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Eidos’s Ian Livingstone criticizes broadband providers for holding games back, calls for “super fast” broadband


Eidos Life President and Games Workshop co-founder Ian Livingstone criticized the Internet providers earlier this week for lagging behind the growing needs of the games industry, and “holding us back” in the transition from a retail to digital services model.

The “Super Fast Broadband for Super Fast Games Market” talk at the Broadband World Forum (spotted by PC Gamer) was partly a brief history of the games industry, and how it has changed from the arcade and hobby-shop era as it became the world’s largest entertainment industry, with a $50 billion market. But Livingstone also remarked that it was “crazy” that the industry is fighting broadband every step of the way.

He pointed out that Cisco projects 50% compound annual growth for gaming traffic between 2011 and 2016,and complained that broadband is not keeping pace with gaming’s demand for high speeds and low-latency. Its needs, he said, are often forgotten, and designers are forced to build their games around pessimistic estimates of the quality of their users’ connections.

It’s a good point and one most gamers likely share. The increasing popularity of online gaming, in particular competitive multiplayer games like League of Legends, has made more and more people aware of exactly how poor their pings are, and how sluggish their download speeds can be.

Yet it’s hard to see the remedy, because while the audience at the Broadband World Forum gave Livingstone a polite hearing,the fact remains that consumers in most markets don’t have many remedies for poor service. Besides, providers often view broadband as a threat to other businesses like cable television and content production. While broadband providers may be holding games back, to paraphrase Lily Tomlin, they don’t have to care.