Why Netflix May Hurt Online Gaming


No, I’m not talking about anybody watching too many movies and doing too little gaming. Some monetary transactions by Netflix are setting ground work that could potentially set precedent for how much you pay for your online gaming.

Those that follow Netflix know full well their long battle with the cable companies, especially those that are also internet service providers. Recently, Comcast was able to use certain practices, that I consider to be borderline extortion, to get Netflix to pay them a huge sum of money. Comcast was throttling the bandwidth from Netflix data centers to Comcast customers. Essentially causing the viewing experience to degrade to the point enough subscribers contacted Netflix to complain. To resolve the issue, Netflix now has a paid contract with Comcast so that they will not limit traffic from Netflix to its customers. When this deal was first announced I got a bad feeling. Now we are seeing the second shoe drop with Netflix announcing that it is going to be raising its rates for new subscribers. The monthly streaming package will go from $8/month to $9-$10/month. Current subscribers will be immune for now but Netflix plans to adjust those rates with in the next two to three years as well.

What worries me now is that this opens the door for Comcast and other providers to put the same squeeze on other services. If they put a limiter on Xbox Live or PSN traffic, making online matches unplayable, there will be an uproar. Much like they did with Netflix, Comcast could simply blame the service for causing too much load for their network to handle. Will Microsoft and Sony buckle and agree to pay providers to not limit their traffic? If they do, will they then push the cost back on to the customer as well? Nobody can say for certain but it is a possibility. Imagine your Xbox Live subscription going from $60/year to $65 just because of something like this. Don’t think that MS and Sony will be the only targets. Valve and EA will have their services, Steam and Origin, targeted as well. Think about buying that brand new game that is a 50GB download but it taking several hours to download before you can play. This entire scenario makes me a little queasy. Especially given the fact that Comcast had the resources to handle the traffic. All they did was remove the barriers that they put in place.

Kotaku posted an Kotaku Article outlining how this may already be in the works. The FCC is supposedly going to allow Internet service providers to offer “fast lanes” that content provides can pay said ISPs extra money to make sure their content has priority over other traffic. Essentially allowing ISPs to slow all traffic unless the content provider pays them.

Does this worry anybody else?

Author Line

dudewantshisrugPaul Novak is a self described Polish ninja toiling away as an IT professional but more into gaming and writing. Physically existing in the west side of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania yet existentially flowing with the ether of the Internet. Found here at What’s Your Tag? and on the Twitter @dudewantshisrug. Game on with Team XBRO!


  1. I am honestly surprised that it has taken this long for ISPs to become this corrupted by lobbyists and fatcats in the government. But if we fight it now at this stage of the game, there is some hope.

    1. It is not good that Verizon and Comcast are “helping” draft net neutrality rules. Nor that their lobbyist are so influential. Raise your voice to your representatives to tell the this is not good for their constituents.

  2. I can only HOPE that the reason comcast attacked Netflix is because Netflix is the number one reason for comcast losing revenue by way of cable television subscribers. More and more users everyday choose to cut their cable television off totally or back to basic and simply get a Netflix subscription instead. They are basically competition for comcast cable television. Comcast doesn’t, however, offer any form of online gaming. In fact, gamers wanting the highest speed connection are probably boosting sales of the higher bandwidth and higher speeds offered. I truly hope that comcast, and all other ISP’s, view this as a reason to working with gaming consoles rather than against them. But, if there’s money to be made, they’ll squeeze what they can. Nice expose, thanks for sharing!

    1. Comcast is losing subscribers because of themselves. People don’t feel they are getting value for what they pay Comcast. If they were losing subscribers to Hulu, they probably wouldn’t have attacked them. Since Comcast owns a major stake in Hulu.

  3. In Canada, we pay through the nose for internet and still get throttled. We have found an ISP that gives us unlimited DL’s, but at the expense of speed, so we have sh!tty slow internet, but we refuse to go with Ma Bell or Rogers who have high prices and throttle anyway. It’s such a scourge.

  4. In the old days they would siege castles and now they blockade websites. It’s disgusting that big companies are legally allowed to hold rivals to ransom like this.

  5. Not to mention stuff like monthly data caps on your home lines, similar to cell phone data caps. That 50GB game you mention would take up about 20% of the standard user’s monthly cap. And that’s not even the future, that’s already happening in most locations (if would be more, but some states have laws that come down on ISP’s if they enforce those caps). My cap here in NJ on Comcast is 250 GB, which thankfully isn’t being enforced due to these laws in place. Could you imagine being like “Well, I COULD download this game now, but this other game I’ll have to wait until next month.” … Already a reality.

    1. Caps are an issue. I understand why Comcast and others want them but even their own offerings, onDemand and live channels on the web, are going to blow the cap limits. There has to be an agreeable balance that will work for the consumer and provider.

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