Sony turned a few heads earlier this month during their Gamescom conference PS4 presentation, stating that the company would be entering into "strategic partnerships" with European broadband companies Orange, Deutsche Telekom, Virgin Media and Ono. What do these exclusive partnerships entail?
At around the 57:50 minute mark of the presentation
, Sony notes that customers of these ISP partners will enjoy certain promotional perks, including a "range of broadband packages" as well as "reserved parts of the pipe for gaming."
Details are nonexistent beyond this statement, or on whether this idea will extend into the United States. I've fired off an inquiry to Sony for more detail on exactly what "reserved parts of the pipe" means.
Game prioritization and trying to get gamers to pay more for better routing certainly isn't anything new (remember Gamerail
?), and neither are on network CDN servers, or certain content being restricted depending on your ISP (see HBO Go, ESPN3
). However, tying your game network performance on a console to a particular ISP does add a slightly new wrinkle to the mix, depending on how it's implemented.
Like the HBO Go and ESPN3 models, this wrinkle might not be looked upon too kindly by consumer advocates or smaller ISPs that can't afford to partner with Sony. With so many ISPs in uncompetitive broadband markets now implementing caps, this idea also easily segues into companies paying a premium so their
system or content bypasses the cap (a favorite new idea of AT&T
), which will also raise some flags amongst the network neutrality brigades.