Why is no one talking about net neutrality in the VR industry?

The ramifications of repealed net neutrality are going to be huge for Social VR.

There has been a lot of uproar about the fight for net neutrality and there wasn’t any topic that ran as hot as it on the internet. The VR industry largely missed this uproar and I personally didn’t witness much debate on its implications to the future of VR. I would argue that if any industry, the VR industry stands to lose the most with a throttled internet.

Virtual Reality is inherently a performance intensive medium compared to other mediums. VR is “drawing” a world around you instead of on a limited 2D screen like your monitor or your iPhone. This is the reason why VR needs high end PCs to function well and top of the line smartphones to function barely. The future of VR is tied to the relentlessness progress in increasing raw CPU and GPU performance. More so, the future of VR is tied to increasing internet speeds across the spectrum.

Think about it, whenever you are meeting someone in Social VR, there is tons of data that needs to flow to make it an experience where you feel socially present. There is data related to your movement, voice and location. On top of that, any shared content needs to be streamed as well. We know the hassles first hand because of our social game, Casino VR Poker (changing to Poker VR this week with our biggest update yet this week.) Throttled internet with Social VR doesn’t mean that you would get buffering on a shared video.

  • Throttled internet can mean that you don’t hear someone properly even though their avatars’ mouth is moving.
  • Wouldn’t it be fun to repeatedly say “What are you saying? I can’t hear you. WHAT?!”
  • It can mean that you hear someone from afar even though they came close by in the meantime.
  • It can mean a game of catch between friends becomes a game of “guess when did I throw the ball?”.
  • A hand shake can turn into a punch or worse, (or better?) into a bitch slap.
  • An Echo Arena match would be very fun if you are trying to punch someone but they ended up scoring anyway.
  • It can mean lots and lots of weird and creepy movements.
  • One minute you can be socially immersed and another minute you want to put your friend’s avatar out of their misery because their avatar looks convoluted like hell.
  • Streaming 360 videos would (still) look like you are watching a globe of pixels dance and change colors.
  • Stereoscopic 360 can feel like the same but instead (bonus points) you are also cross eyed.
  • I don’t even know what kind of hell hole can Web VR be with throttled internet.
  • Social Web VR? be my guest to guess.

Everything above becomes increasingly more jarring in VR than other platforms. Every missed word, every weird avatar movement, every lag is immersion breaking. In some cases, it can even be nausea inducing.

It’s not just VR though but think about the intersection of other technologies as well. Think about using blockchain and VR together.

SO WHY IS NO ONE TALKING ABOUT THIS?!

Jokes aside, there should be active conversation on the implications of repealed net neutrality in the VR industry. The future of VR is more connected and immersive, not isolating. It is likely that big tech giants like facebook, google, sony, valve etc don’t have as much to lose as new innovative startups. VR is the next platform and the last thing we need is stunted or centralized progress in our industry. The last thing we need is a throttled internet.