I know it’s not exactly an everyday dilemma, but it’s starting to become apparent in this new console generation that the current state of Canadian Internet access is going to become an issue digital titles. This is largely the result of a corporate cold war between those that want to encourage more digital goods, and those that control the Internet service itself, but regardless of who’s at fault, it’s we the consumers that are caught in the middle.
In this instance, I’m thinking in particular of the new standard for current generation games, specifically file sizes and how that clashes head on with the bandwidth caps that most large ISPs have in place. My situation isn’t dire, but it’s one that does require a bit of monitoring. My current Internet plan has a monthly bandwidth cap of 150GB, which, for most months, is more than adequate. My household cut the TV cable years ago, so the majority of our TV consumption comes from services like Netflix and Crunchyroll. On average, that usually equates to about 1-2 GB of data per day on streaming combined with regular Internet access, which is still only about 60 GB in a month, well shy of my particular bandwidth cap.
However, throw in digital purchases of games and the numbers change drastically.
In the last generation, it wasn’t so bad. Most games, because of their multi-platform nature, had to fit on a DVD, so the size of the average game was about 5-6 GB, not a big deal. However, current gen games like Knack or Killzone: Shadowfall the PS4 use high-res assets and lossless audio, which bumps up their file sizes considerably. Both games exceed 35 GB in file size which, depending on your purchasing habits, can have a pretty heavy impact on your bandwidth if these titles are digital purchases. Some games, like NBA 2K14 are over 40 GB, so it’s easy to see that the current generation of AAA games are requiring the use of Blu-Ray discs for a reason. The file sizes are massive now.
This makes for a dilemma when it comes choosing the convenience of a digital copy over a traditional, physical, retail disc. InFamous: Second Son, for example, is coming out in March, and Sony already has pre-orders available on the PlayStation Network for people that would like to purchase a digital version. In theory, this sounds great, because it means that there’s no waiting in line, no travel time to pick up the game, just wait until midnight of March 21
and start downloading. The caveat here is that the PSN listing for the game currently has no information on the file size, and with monthly internet bandwidth caps ranging anywhere from 20 GB to 2 TB for deluxe plans, it quickly becomes obvious that depending on the kind of internet access a consumer has, digital consumption is not always viable. Someone with an 80 GB monthly cap can use up over half of their allotted data on one AAA game purchase alone. Someone with the absolute minimum service of 20 GB per month can’t buy these games at all. I myself have to occasionally keep an eye on the download usage simply because a lot of publishers now prefer to hand out review copies of games as digital downloads, which means that my own Internet service is counting down the data when I download a game for work purposes.
This is in stark contrast to the USA where many Internet users enjoy unlimited access and don’t think twice about streaming, downloading and generally consuming as much digital content as they can. As we move further into the 21
century, America, and many other parts of the world, are in a good position to embrace the new digital era we find ourselves in. Canada, unfortunately, is trapped in a largely unnecessary bottleneck that has content providers like Sony and Apple scowling at the service providers like Bell and Rogers who are hampering their efforts to make digital content faster and more convenient for people that don’t always have access to an EB Games—or even a local video store—just a few minutes away.