Today the European Parliament made a decision, whose consequences will most likely be huge: Today is the day that net neutrality was sentenced to die.
What exactly is net neutrality? The short version: equal access to internet for everyone. Data passing from one computer to the next without any data being slowed down in favour of other data.
Even though there was heavy criticism from activist groups, experts and the general public the European parliament avoided making decisions at the crucial points of constructing a law to secure net neutrality, thus making it possible for internet providers to create a two-class internet in the near future. The upper class of internet users, having enough money to pay up will have faster internet than before at the cost of everyone else. The lower class will most likely get their internet speed slowed down every month after they have reached a certain amount (set by the internet provider company) of MB downloaded/uploaded. Don’t you hate it, when you reach your internet limit on your phone prematurely because you dared to watch a video and either have your speed slowed down for the rest of the month or pay an additional fee to be able to acquire back your full speed? Imagine having to deal with that on your computer.
This is how things might look in the future unless the national law of the European state you live in, steps in to prevent it.
But what will the consequences be for esports? First of all: a lot less players. Formerly free to play games like League of Legends, Heroes of the Storm, etc will come with a monthly fee that scales up with the amount of time you want to play, that is outside of Riot’s or Blizzard’s control. A huge amount of casual players will most likely turn away from online gaming and return to working their way through their steam libraries full of single-player games, hoarded over the months with the help of “Lord Gaben’s” Steam sales. Up and coming talent will most likely be eradicated in Europe since only very few will have the money to be able to put in the amount of practice required to become a pro.
Esports won’t only take a big hit on the playerbase department, though. The amount of European viewers will go down significantly. The records broken by DOTA2 and LoL championships will most likely have to be reached without European views, since watching one or two best-of-fives on 720p might already overstep the internet limits of a regular household.
As a result the growth of eSports in Europe might be nullified and the region will probably take several steps backwards, when it comes to being competitive not only in eSports but in the global internet market.
It might not be too late to stop this from happening though. While the law that was constructed by the European parliament doesn’t stop internet providers from taking advantage, the national laws of each European country can still be restrictive enough to secure net neutrality. Write to your government, show that you care about the laws and if enough people stand up for it, we might just make a difference.