The Daily Grind: How should studios solve the gaming-while-rural problem?

If you’ve ever read any of MOP’s Andrew’s coverage of Pokemon Go, you’ve probably noticed a recurring theme: One of his biggest pet peeves is that Niantic privileges urban players over everyone else. If you live far away from a large city, you’ll not only struggle to attend events there; you’ll suffer from a lack of hotspots, gyms, raid opportunities, and other players on the daily, and you’ll have to drive between far-flung destinations just to play. A studio obviously can’t fix a population weakness, but it surely could work harder to stop making game opportunities and rewards effectively dependent on where you live.

The same problem’s apparently cropped up in Hearthstone as Blizzard has begun incentivizing what are essentially player-hosted LAN-party events with an ultra-rare Nemsy cards, ostensibly in the service of community. I plugged my current address in and came up with no less than six events over the next month within 20 miles of my home – triple that if I am willing to drive up to 100 miles. But I live in a large city (6M metro area) in the midst of even more large cities. If I plug in my address from back when I lived in New Mexico, there are no events within 100 miles of Albuquerque and Santa Fe. Zip. Nada. They don’t even make the top 50 list for metro areas in the US, but they’re the biggest for 300 miles in any direction where they are. And still nothing.

So imagine how truly rural players must feel being screwed over by online games whose charms were supposed to include the fact that you can play them with other people from anywhere!

My gut reaction, and yours probably will be too, was that folks who live in rural areas should take the initiative and host their own, but as Kotaku points out, it’s not that simple as there are a few irritating hurdles to clear first. And even then, is it really all that fair for rural gamers to have to do groundwork that gamers in cities just have handed to them?

What’s the fix for these issues? How should studios solve the gaming-while-rural problem?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
SHARE THIS ARTICLE
Code of Conduct | Edit Your Profile | Commenting FAQ | Badge Reclamation | Badge Key

LEAVE A COMMENT

100 Comments on "The Daily Grind: How should studios solve the gaming-while-rural problem?"

Subscribe to:
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most liked
Andrew Ross
Staff
Andrew Ross

Late to the party, but I’ll put in a few more words anyway:

Being rural, in general, sucks, and not just for gaming. Events tend to mean driving into the city, which may be near, but the traffic is terrible and the public transportation is worse. Meet Ups I join tend to require me to drive for at least 40 minutes. Having to drive back early to avoid traffic (or crime) makes you seem like a party pooper. And a lot of people there get annoyed by a 20 minute drive.

Adding in gaming, where I feel like we have a reasonable amount of people who are behind screens trying to develop social skills, makes this harder. It’s been cool that I’ve been doing more local multiplayer. I’ve been reminded of one of the big appeals of online gaming: access to the outside world without needing to worry about social fallout. The problem instead is that, well, the communities can fall apart just as easily.

As frustrating as Blizzard is, I think that having incentives to create social gatherings is at least a decent start. The problem, however, is that it’s difficult for rural gamers to start gatherings alone. People are constantly telling me I should start some sort of local group, but outside of Pokemon GO (which has a much different crowd than, say, Smash Bros players), I can’t easily meet locals into the same games as me just by stepping outside.

I think the only thing devs could do is provide regional message boards or even “LF Group” sign ups, where people fill in details like “Can Host,” “Not willing to drive more than 10 miles,” “Can coordinate tournaments,” etc and pair them up as soon as there’s, say, a core of 3 people. Of course, then the company may be held responsible for issues like pairing someone up with a thief, so out-of-game communities tend to handle community building in the real world these days. Naturally, being outside the game means less social media savvy players don’t know how to reach out and find other players, so we’re still left with a vicious cycle.

Reader
socontrariwise

Which means you can host one yourself?
Finding 3 people on two occasions to meet up isn’t crazy difficult is it? You could have your classmates and who knows what come. We’re not talking 100-people-villages, people living in Brooklyn, NY, complain that there is none in their close area …
Seriously?

Reader
Bryan Correll

I’m just glad I finally got DSL service a few years back.

Reader
rafael12104

In my experience, it’s not really about the gaming. Some rural areas are lagging way behind in infrastructure.

It is staggering to an extent because services like eHealth are being compromised.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Pandalulz

Honestly, no idea. I live in the suburbs of Atlanta, I’m not even really that rural. But even then, I’m not going anywhere to eat, or buy groceries, or hang out at a park unless I go get in my car and drive somewhere. Unless they make a gym at every other house, I’m not going to be walking for much of Pokemon Go either. I mean, for the Hearthstone issue, there are a couple of local places nearbyish (within ten miles or so) where I can go to play Warhammer minis, Pokemon CCG, D&D, etc. While they’re not currently Hearthstone taverny things, I bet if I asked around, they’d let me set something up if I cared that much. Once you get more rural than that though, I mean, you hang out with people somewhere right? Post a note at a bar or something.
I mean, I’m not gonna get this character because I’m specifically anti-social and don’t go out anymore, but I’m not going to complain about that either.

Reader
Sally Bowls

Some comments from $ perspective on the rural internet sidebar:

1) Since ’95, US taxpayers gave telcoms $100B in subsidies for rural internet.

2) Google, a company that is “not capital constrained” (a/k/a rich) has given up on fiber. I am so sad. If places like LA & SF won’t get fiber, one can only imagine the sad state of rural internet.
https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2016/10/google-fiber-laying-off-9-of-staff-will-pause-plans-for-10-cities/

3) There was a Ruttles [q.v.] song, “all you need is cash” There are private individuals with 10,000 Mb internet connects.
https://tech.slashdot.org/story/16/10/27/2057251/a-radiologist-has-the-fastest-home-internet-in-the-us

Reader
Armsbend

I don’t like to talk about your number 2. ATT, Comcast, WB won that one. I personally will relish the day those three are crushed for good. I hope they allow us all to take part in burning their corpse publicly.

What will happen though is they will ramp up their funding of congress to bring out anti-trust lawsuits.

Reader
socontrariwise

As long as people vote in a president that installs someone like Ajit there will never be a crash and burn of ATT, Comcast and WB.

Reader
Armsbend

True words. NN is the finest example of how you can whip up a base to support something they literally do not, and cannot, understand. Everything a Net Neutrality hot button issue comes up for debate I go on alt-right sites to see just how mind numbingly angry I can get and the lack of knowledge and the fact people will believe anything they are told to believe if they are dumb enough. It is Nazi Germany in motion.

I wouldn’t prattle on about how much I knew about raising chickens – so for someone who doesn’t understand what the internet is or how it works to yell down people who do – is alarming to me.

Reader
Sally Bowls

In support of one of hot buttons, I would like to point out the rural problem is not just gyms and LAN parties. If you design your game so that your ping must be low to play well, that is never going to work well for a lot of places – including rural on slow or especially satellite connections but also servers on other continents (e.g. AUSNZ)

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Loyal Patron
Jack Pipsam

Yes I imagine that New Zealand gets even more screwed over than a lot due to their location, I believe their web-tubes gotta’ zip across to Sydney before going off into the world if I am not mistaken.

Reader
Robert Mann

The fix is to fish-slap studio executives. Because there is absolutely no excuse for this to get a pass. It’s that simple. They can make such events easily, and should.

They don’t care about gamers who aren’t in a city, because it’s a smaller amount of $ that is not as easy to get to? We should all be saying ‘Nope, you get NO gamers until you fix this. Ever.’

The tune will change faster than superman in a phone booth.

styopa
Reader
styopa

Sorry, but that’s asinine.

You might as well insist that restaurants deliver to EVERYONE EVERYWHERE because they shouldn’t ‘privilege’ certain people that happen to live close geographically.

If person X isn’t willing to pay for bandwidth Y needed to run the game optimally, how the hell is that Niantic (or Sony, or MS, or Blizzard, etc)’s problem?

Reader
Robert Mann

The problem isn’t that they don’t have the net to do it in so many places, but that they simply didn’t bother to make events in locations other than major metropolises. There’s cities of 100,000+ that they just ignored all over the nation.

It’s simply that they are only focusing on the biggest markets, when it’s a fairly simple thing to take these events and make similar happenings all over.

IF it was a bandwidth issue to extremely remote areas, then you would have a point. It isn’t, at this time. It’s ignoring a huge amount of customers because they aren’t in the biggest cities, which is just dumb.

styopa
Reader
styopa

“they simply didn’t bother to make events in locations other than major metropolises. …It’s ignoring a huge amount of customers because they aren’t in the biggest cities, which is just dumb.”

I’d love to see the link to where they said this, because otherwise what you’re saying is ENTIRELY based on bald supposition. You’re asserting, then, that a company is willfully ignoring potentially-easily-gained revenue what, because of some sort of spite they have for “people who don’t live in metropolises”?
Sorry, but that’s ridiculous. You might as well say they hate people that like spaghetti, or people that wear the color green.

“… it’s a fairly simple thing to take these events and make similar happenings all over…. ”
Right. Why do I suspect it’s not as simple as you believe?

Reader
socontrariwise

Niantic’s game map is set up from Ingress player data. Few people play = little data = few spots. Aka it is the problem of too little interest in the first place. Can’t blame a company that relies on local participation on lack of participation.
For Hearthstone or such LAN parties hosted by players: again, those are based on local interest, can fault only the player for not hosting one them self.

Reader
Rheem Octuris

I would like to point out for rural Hearthstone players, you can always host your own fireside gatherings, they tell you how on the website.

Reader
Armsbend

The internet divide is a much bigger problem in US rural areas. Some lawmakers have suggested a large scale public works project bringing high speed to rural areas – akin to bringing electricity to Appalachia at the turn of the 20th Century.

I wholeheartedly support it morally and as a taxpayer.

Reader
Sally Bowls

Theoretically, yes. Real world governments and telecoms, perhaps not.

Since 1995, US taxpayers have spent over $100B on rural telcom internet subsidies seemingly without much to show for it.

Since 1995 the program(CAP – Connect America Fund) has spent $84 billion in real dollars subsidizing rural telecommunications providers. In addition, the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utility Service (RUS) has given out another $7 billion since 2009 in grants and loans for telecom programs. The National Telecommunications and Information Agency gave away another $4 billion as part of the 2009 stimulus package.

Reader
Utakata

That’s an issue with accountability and not with the idea itself. And one that tends to happen a lot when government is mixes it up with private interests.

…and citation needed.

Reader
Ket Viliano

Those were free money give aways, with rural service as an excuse for paying the kickback. What we need is for a real, functioning market, one rightly regulated to create competition, not to protect monopoly.

Reader
Robert Mann

How about just removing their monopolies from the list of government supported/enforced things? Let other companies lay line if they want, and let companies talk about using poles and/or existing lines without having to get insane approvals from their competitors!

There’s a whole slew of regulations that actively prevent these things, and the only two reasons the lawmakers are making any noise is increased power for themselves, and P.R.

Reader
A Dad Supreme

I don’t think the government should do that with tax money and I’m a very liberal guy.

If a private company wants to do that with it’s resources I’m all for it, but I don’t think public tax funds should be used to fully fund this kind of venture.

Perhaps tax breaks and some smaller subsidies for private companies is about all I’d want but something like high speed internet to play video games (which isn’t a necessity as much as we like to think it is) shouldn’t be a thing for just entertainment, which most of the people would probably end up using it for.

This is something that should be carried by the customer of those private services, just like I don’t think someone in Utah should be helping to pay my 1Gig internet here in PA.

I’d rather the government paid people in these depressed areas like Appalachia (and some natural disaster zones) some money to move to areas that can’t find enough workers and start over but you know.. “I was born here, my grandaddy was born here so I ain’t movin’!” happens.

Reader
Armsbend

Then they simply won’t do it.

Here is the reason why I believe it should be a government project. Imagine you are a brilliant boy off 11 years old. You have the imagination and intelligence of any of New York’s finest BUT you have access to Dial up and DSL only. You are not given the same library of the world’s knowledge that the city kid gets.

So the kid suffers but more importantly we all do because what if some great mind – one that might progress the human race (or just publish and awesome apple pie recipe) is just languishing because he didn’t have the same opportunities?

AND business suffer mightily because of the divide. You have doctor’s offices that have just as good as doctors and their city counterparts but can’t even file digitally because their network isn’t strong enough. So they are at an automatic competitive disadvantage. So the talented doctors may choose to pack up and go big city – leaving real people who need them behind. That is not fantasy it is an everyday thing – a big deal in my state of Georgia.

That is my personal take as a raging moderate.

styopa
Reader
styopa

Except you seem to start with the mistaken assumption that it’s a free market. It’s not even close: governments (federal, state, regional, and local) HANDED monopolies to regions to specific companies as carrots to incentivize their investment in capital in those regions.

Those monopolies – largely – predate the internet.

The situation today is quite comparable if governments had somehow allowed Burlington Northern, ATSF, Norfolk Southern, CP/Soo Line, etc all to still hold (after the invention of the car) monopolies on ‘any sort of transport roadway’ over great swathes of land because they’d originally been granted regional monopolies for RAILROAD trackage.

I don’t think anyone would refute the idea that today’s internet is critical to commerce. But I also strongly suspect that if these exclusive monopolies were vacated, Adam Smith would quite quickly build all but the very capillary connections throughout the network. THEN and only then, we should talk about subsidizing those final 5% connections.

Reader
Ket Viliano

Yes, the exclusive monopolies need to go, right along with the bribe payers and bribe takers that set up this system to begin with.

Mewmew
Reader
Mewmew

I agree with you. The Internet isn’t just some optional tool anymore, it’s an integral part of our lives and more integrated each and every day. Can you live without it the way you can live without electricity, plumbing, etc? Sure, but nobody in a supposedly 1st World developed country should have to. As said this is an integral part of our lives now not just a fun diversion or simple place to gather information.

For the country that developed the Internet we’ve fallen behind in speeds and keeping everybody connected. I realize it’s partially because of the size of the US and some of the places people are spread out in compared to other Countries but the Internet has become a basic necessity of modern life and it would be money well spent.

I’m wondering what ever became of those “Free Internet for all Humans” satellite programs from the news 3 years ago about them being in the works. Though I never took the time to investigate the speeds they were going to be and it was more about connecting the rest of the world that wasn’t online at all than fixing holes in the US.

Reader
Armsbend

That’s a good question. I had forgotten about it.

Reader
Ket Viliano

The telecom companies like their monopoly control, and won’t give it up. They want to abuse sole access to a utility service to the maximum extent. That is why better internet is opposed by private companies.

They don’t want competition messing up a good racket.

Reader
Schmidt.Capela

A pity Google put Project Loon on the backburner.

Free, if low speed, wireless Internet with global coverage, based on solar-powered routers floated by balloons. It would have been a gamechanger, forcing rural ISPs to improve their offers, just like Google Fiber forced ISPs to drastically improve their offerings in every city it was implemented.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
squidgod2000

I agree, though I think the government should hold back for a bit and see what comes from the various wireless internet projects that are in the works. Though, having said that, they should also enforce existing regulations and contracts regarding rural internet build-out. They’re far too quick to cave to the telecoms and their money.

Reader
Fervor Bliss

Everywhere you live has advantage and disadvantage. Internet speeds are much better than the USA where i live. In most cases where you live is your choice and not a companies problem.

Reader
Robert Mann

By that reasoning, everyone should just move into the biggest cities and we can all starve to death. Sounds lovely!

There’s people all across our nation, and they should not be excluded. In the case of internet, especially they should not be simply due to government supported telecom monopolies.

Estranged
Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Estranged

I want to add another take on the situation.

The expense of running hard lines to isolated areas is just too expensive, versus installing a cell tower. The increased latency isn’t friendly to gaming, but it is practical. We have to remember tech restrictions and expenses.

My friends are grateful to have somewhat speedy wireless internet to tether and play games with minimal hassle in the rural southeast US. People are dropping their landlines in these areas (and the rest of western culture), why would comm companies devote more resources to wired? Satellite and wireless is just more practical.

Reader
Armsbend

Gaming in rural areas should not be a primary concern. Any way to get them faster internet – for business and learning – should be top priority. Whether that be cell or hard lines, it should be done whatever the expense.

Estranged
Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Estranged

Armsbend, indeed. Wireless is the easy answer. Friend gets about 8 down and 1 up on his wireless in bum-fed Alabama. Good enough for streaming and education. Also, satellite ISPs are greatly improved.

Reader
John Mynard

I resent the implication that Alabama is “bum-fed”. There are some things I’d like to change around here, but the biggest “Issue” is that cell coverage is not universal. If I drive “too far” from where AT&T has a tower, I don’t just have to connect to one of their partners, there is NO signal. This is one of many reasons I support Title 2 regulation of all forms of telecommunications. Cellular wireless technology has largely replaced POTS copper lines in much of the nation. That being the case, it becomes incumbent upon the Wireless ISPs(AT&T and Verizon being the big boys) as Title 2 organizations to ensure that connectivity is universal. Hell, I lose 2 bars going the 150ft from my house to my barn.

Reader
Armsbend

I’ve always been under the assumption that ‘bum-fed’ is a nice, christain way of not saying the more traditional and well-known ‘bum-fuck’. As in Bum Fuck Egypt. Am I wrong?

Estranged
Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Estranged

John, I am an Alabama native from a SMALL town. My comments are said with love and sarcastic southern humor in mind.

And yes, I have to go with expensive Verizon cellular to ensure coverage. AT&T and Verizon should be forced to play nice and share towers.

WDE or RTR? lol

Reader
Schmidt.Capela

Satellite ISPs are greatly improved in bandwidth, yeah.

In latency, though, the theoretical minimum latency is 2x the time it takes for light to get from Earth’s surface to the satellite and back, which for geosynchronous satellites — used by all current satellite ISPs — is a tad above 470ms. Without breaking the laws of physics it’s impossible to get any better latency than that from geosynchronous satellites.

It might be possible to improve latency it by using large swarms of low orbit satellites (and you need a swarm, because at low orbit a satellite can’t remain over a single place), and one company is announcing something of the kind for 2019, but only time will tell how cost-effective that will be. Geopolitical issues might also crop up, as those satellites would forcibly cover most of the world, something governments that control Internet usage — like China — might not be willing to allow; China has in the past threatened to shoot down balloons from Google’s Project Loom if they flew over China, and as they made sure to demonstrate in the past, they have missiles capable of shooting down any satellite they can detect.

Reader
Ket Viliano

TV bandwidth is now available with the switch to digital broadcasting. The spectrum could easily be used for internet. I do not know if this is being done or not.

Reader
Sally Bowls

The $20B of spectrum will be going to mobile, but these days that is essentially internet.

http://fortune.com/2017/02/10/fcc-wireless-television-mobile-auction/

Estranged
Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Estranged

Ket – that is why we have improved speeds in my area. Same ole coaxial cable. They have also figured out how to optimize DSL. Issue with it is distance from the switch.

Reader
Ket Viliano

Good to know. Yea signal attenuation is a thing. I got a monitor that seems to know that it is on a 10 foot cable, instead of the provided 5 foot.

Reader
Schmidt.Capela

It’s why the best answer for rural Internet, and perhaps even wired telephony, is fiber. AFAIK it allows links about 10x longer before attenuation becomes an issue (thus needs less repeaters), is chemically inert (no oxidation issues), and is immune to electromagnetic interference and thunderstorms to boot (better link quality, less chance of burning the equipment); fiber is better in just about every way when it comes to long links.

The main, and perhaps only, reason to keep using copper in rural areas is because of already existing copper-based infrastructure.

Reader
Sally Bowls

I want fiber.

It seems like fiber is in retreat and companies are turning to wireless. If Google is switching from fiber to wireless, I can’t see the antediluvian telcos/cables going fiber.

Reader
Schmidt.Capela

I kinda doubt they are going full wireless. Wireless is incapable of the throughput wired connections can achieve, particularly when you have too many users; wireless, due to its very medium, behaves like the network hubs of old, where the total amount of data you can transmit through it falls with every new connection you add.

Estranged
Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Estranged

Gotta have hard lines to connect the towers to the main system. Yes.

Reader
Schmidt.Capela

It’s not just that.

First, everyone connected to the same tower shares the same medium for transmitting data. AFAIK a 4G (LTE) cell can only handle 1Gb/s max — which is divided across all current users in that single cell — because the airwaves simply can’t carry more data with the currently available spectrum, regardless of how much throughput the hard line connected to the tower could handle.

Then there is the loss of efficiency when multiple devices are connected to the same tower. It’s kinda like when multiple people are talking. If it’s one person recording a monologue, there is no interruption; if it’s two persons talking on the phone, sometimes you will have both starting to speak at the same time (in networking speak a “collision”), wasting time; if you have a few dozen people on a teleconference, people might be wasting more time determining who is going to speak next than actually speaking.

Cable internet — be it fiber, coaxial, or even twisted pair — bypasses those issues. Each user has the whole medium just for him or herself. Plus, in the case of fiber, light is theoretically capable of carrying a thousand times more information on a single carrier wave than any frequency usable for wireless.

Reader
Ket Viliano

The big game companies should sue the crap out of ISPs that fail to deliver high quality internet to rural customers. As well, go after the politicians that have taken bribes from ISPs to pass laws banning public ISP.

No data caps, no dropped packets, no bandwidth chokepoints, make this the law.

Reader
Robert Mann

WE as a populace should go after those politicians (hint, there’s about 6 that aren’t actively taking bribes from the lobby industry.) We are the ones with the power, since we are the only entity which supersedes the ‘it’s not illegal for us’ rules they made outside the courts. The courts… are just a political extension, due to the placement being political.

So the only thing left is us, as a nation, saying “We selected these people from our population to fix the mess the politicians made.” Will it happen? Probably not for at least another 6 years. There is, however, a swiftly growing movement to do such things.

Reader
A Dad Supreme

What’s the fix for these issues? How should studios solve the gaming-while-rural problem?

“Hey, how come they don’t hold the next ComiCon or E3 in Boise, Duluth or Little Rock instead of Vegas, New York or Los Angeles again?” -said no one ever.

It’s sad to say but I don’t think there is a fix other than time. The only thing that can fix this problem is the continuing evolution of technology over time.

A company is going to shoot for the biggest market when they are faced with choices about how to spread their product or support for that product. That’s not just for gaming companies, that’s for any company in general and in the case of broadband and associated products, that means more populated, wealthier areas usually.

10-15 years ago, a thing like PokemonGo wasn’t really a viable project due to technology constraints, even though I’m sure people thought up similar games but had no way to really deliver them. Once the tech can evolve to a point where it can facilitate more reliable/stronger coverage at a reasonable cost, then there’ll be more of a equality as companies can reach those areas with that product.

Reader
Robert Mann

Except these are events where it just takes a few minutes to change location data for the most part. They are virtual for the company, for the most part. It’s not quite a fair comparison, given that the physical structures for those other activities just aren’t in place… and that making a duplicate is far easier for these events.

Estranged
Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Estranged

I’m a rural guy and in no way, shape or form feel disadvantaged.

When I want “city culture”, I’ll drive into downtown and participate. We really don’t want these areas urbanized, ‘tis why we live in small towns. Rural folk trade these “conveniences” for less traffic, lower cost of living and reduced stress.

Keep another form of urban sprawl away. Please.

I use a 60 meg connection to chat and play online games. Perfectly happy.

styopa
Reader
styopa

“So imagine how truly rural players must feel being screwed over by online games whose charms were supposed to include the fact that you can play them with other people from anywhere!”
‘Screwed over’? That’s a pretty entitled statement.
It’s not the gaming companies’ PROBLEM.

Where you live (in the US, it’s your choice, generally speaking) involves tradeoffs. One of those choices is urban/rural – the consequence of those choices impacts a lot of things, not least is likely broadband connect speeds.

Certainly, as commercial firms, it’s advantageous if they can offer their product equally to those of low bandwidth, but it’s not something they have to “fix”; it may be that their product only plays well on gigabit internet, and there are enough urban customers to keep them afloat.

I’m not sure where this Pollyannish notion came from that everyone has to have equal access to everything anytime anywhere anyhow? The very concept is pretty dumb; nothing is distributed equally, ever. It never HAS been.

If you live ‘far away from a big city and can’t participate in all the neat city stuff’…MOVE CLOSER. If it’s not worth it to you, you could simply accept the result of your choices and live with it, or whinge and complain that you are unhappy about the result of your choice? I know which one will lead to more life-satisfaction in the long run.

Personally, I’m delighted to be well out of a metro area. I will happily accept my 50 meg max internet speed, as a trade for open space, quiet nights, crime rates that are imperceptible, and zero traffic.
comment image

(Not my picture, but not a long way from my home.)
Yeah, that’s worth pages downloading in 0.4 seconds longer, I think?

rahkeesh
Reader
rahkeesh

Phone/cable monopolies are actively fighting attempts by others to expand rural access, that is the issue. If the “free market” can’t find profit in going rural then that’s one thing, but we don’t exactly have a free market.

Reader
Ket Viliano

Apparently you miss the point of the Rural Electrification program.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rural_Electrification_Act

styopa
Reader
styopa

Oh, that government program that “…enacted on May 20, 1936, provided federal loans for the installation of electrical distribution systems to serve isolated rural areas of the United States….” originally a reasonably justified program to bring electricity outside of cities?

Of course, once electrification became nearly universal, instead of shutting down, the program morphed into another self-justifying makework/spendmoney program, this time asserting that internet connectivity was somehow as necessary as water and electricity?

1949 – extended the act to allow loans to telephone companies wishing to extend their connections to unconnected rural areas[4]
1993 – Provisions to restructure the direct loan programs for rural electricity, telephone cooperatives, and energy conservation market[5]
December 8, 1993 – “North American Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act” – The “Buy American” provision to now include Mexico and Canada.
2008 – Provisions for access to rural broadband telecommunications network and rural internet
2014 – Pilot program for rural gigabit broadband network

Yeah, no, not familiar with that at all.

But of course, in any case your point is completely irrelevant to the idea that somehow it’s games companies “screwing” rural players, or somehow private companies’ responsibility to provide an equal experience to people who deliberately chose to live in the hinterlands.

Reader
John Mynard

The issue is that in 2017 sufficient access to the Internet, the modern marketplace of ideas and commerce, IS as required as electricity and clean water. And I say this as a Ben Shapiro conservative. I wish to God that a “competitive marketplace” could solve the problem. But the big 3 companies and the regulatory body that’s supposed to oversee them are colluding to ensure that their various local monopolies remain intact so that they don’t actually have to compete. When was the last time you actually had the choice to purchase hardline cable television or internet service from more than provider such as Spectrum and/or Comcast? Not in my lifetime, which is approaching four decades in length. There is no competition, at least not between equals. I get low latency 60 meg down from Spectrum, fair competition means that I should have AT LEAST one other choice for low latency 60 meg down and I don’t. Nobody does. Or if they do, they represent the vast exception.

I love living in the “country”. It’s not rural around here, not like what most of you would expect, but that’s the “big picture” of this issue as I see it. The marketplace can’t solve the problem because there’s no marketplace.

styopa
Reader
styopa

We can discuss the merits of infrastructure all day long, but the original article was about how GAME COMPANIES are screwing rural players. (cf the title “how-should-studios-solve-the-gaming-while-rural-problem”.

It is in no *possible* way the game companies’ fault nor issue.

Reader
Ket Viliano

When did I say that game companies were screwing rural gamers?

Private monopolies and oligopolies are screwing rural internet customers, worse than they screw us suburban ones. That is my assertion, you may respond to it as you will.

Do not try to accuse me of missing a point, and remember I have my own.

As for unwarranted extension of government programs, that is another matter entirely. It would seem that you would also be against the federal highway system. You certainly seem to miss the point of having a consistent national infrastructure, and at no time did I say you were not familiar with it.

styopa
Reader
styopa

You didn’t, the OP did: “…imagine how truly rural players must feel being screwed over by online games whose charms were supposed to …”

My original point was that none of this is the gaming companies’ faults, which (again) the OP stated explicitly: “…Niantic privileges urban players over everyone else…”

Your comment was about GOVERNMENT supplying services – a completely, utterly, different (and irrelevant) context.

Reader
Ket Viliano

A counter point is far from irrelevant.

The OP concerns Niantec having built Pokemon on top of Ingress infrastructure, which by its nature is more oriented toward centers of population.

My counterpoint is that ISP quality is by far the greater issue for gamers, both rural and urban, and that the largest game companies can very well exert pressure for better internet connections, they have simply neglected to do so.

That internet quality and pricing is a problem for many is clearly shown by the frequent complaints about the size of auto update downloads that eat up data caps in one go, by dropped connections to servers, and by high latencies.

The government sets the rules, including access to funding and in what way, and we all have a stake in this.

styopa
Reader
styopa

Believe me, if the gaming companies saw a potential financial benefit to strongarming local ISPs, it would have already happened.

No, they recognize quite logically that effing with the people that connect to their customers is literally suicidal to market success.

Estranged
Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Estranged

The quiet woods behind my house isn’t interested in Pokémon. I concur.

Little picture through my blinds. Awful iPad picture, but hey…

84DD482F-23D4-4C0D-83B5-C57A4E25B6F9.jpeg
Reader
steve

Needs to be brush-hogged!

Estranged
Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Estranged

Steve – waiting for the snakes to sleep, about that time.

Reader
Schmidt.Capela

Streetpass on the 3DS (exchanging game data just by passing near someone that is also carrying a 3DS) is a similar enough concept to those local meet ups that some parallels can be drawn; it worked beautifully in Japan urban areas, was still good in Japan’s smaller towns or in big cities on other first world countries, but was a complete failure nearly everywhere else. Nintendo was ultimately forced to tweak the system by entering into partnerships to create special access points that would allow players to “meet” without having to be there at the same time, but even this didn’t work for everyone.

In the end, it’s one of the features that was ditched for Nintendo’s new console.

My own experience with it was terrible. While the idea of tagging players as you pass them was interesting, here there are few enough players here that, apart from my brother, I would get perhaps one or two passes per month; it was, in short, useless here, and as a consequence made every game that relied on it less enjoyable to play (well, until I started “cheating” with a homepass, which connects to a virtual network of spoofed access points that allows thousands of players across the whole world to virtually meet).

I’m not sure this can be fixed, though. If the intent is to get people to meet face to face, adding a way for them to do that remotely will make players just settle for the remote way of doing it, and the face to face meeting aspect will die. But without a way for players to meet remotely the ones that live in places with low population density, or where the game just isn’t popular enough, will be at a so great disadvantage they might even leave the game over it if the face to face meetings give important rewards.

Reader
Utakata

*Notes header pic, then throws on some jazz*

…my pigtails are thoroughly urban though. o.O

Reader
CMDR Crow

rural players must feel being screwed over by online games

Where is this happening? There’s a LIST of things with far more effect on a player’s experience than anything a studio can control. At the top goes, as DK pointed out, ISPs themselves. Follow that up by the fact that being surprised when lower-population areas lack high population density (as are needed for in-person games like PoGo or HS Fireside) it is just absurd…

Also, one of the comments from the Kotaku article:

My relatively small city had no Fireside Gatherings so I created one myself. The application was accepted within a few hours and the meet-up is this Friday. As long as I get 3+ people attending, additional gatherings after that qualify as a Tavern. Not that hard.

Reader
Patreon Donor
Schlag Sweetleaf

.

pokemon dreamtime.gif
Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Loyal Patron
Jack Pipsam

Funnily enough, I fully expect Uluru might be one of the few places in the Outback which would actually have both phone coverage and Pokemon Go points.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Loyal Patron
Jack Pipsam

Not only am I stuck with Australian internet… but I am also living in a country town too! Double-whammy of suckage (although thankfully not outback rural, so at least there is a copper connection). Data caps + terrible speeds, yay! ((Fiber-to-Node is meant to be in my area next year, so who knows if that’ll really be much better, hopefully better than nothing)).

But outside of providing much needed local servers (which I always highly encourage, 45 ping > 400+) and offline modes, I don’t know what studios could actually do about it. It’s up to the ISPs and government to improve infrastructure. The Communication Minister doesn’t care about Valve or Blizzard.

With Pokemon Go, I guess they just needed to add more locations. I happen to live close to a train station, so that counted as a landmark, but aside from that, pretty much nothing for ages as there’s so many spots which they’re just not interested in making gyms or whatever. I am glad I just wasn’t into it.

Studios need to provide servers as many places as possible (which yes I fully understand can be an impossible ask for say LotRO or other indie/struggling stuff, but I won’t excuse bigger titles like GW2 for not having local servers, as if they don’t have the money/playerbase to support even one. If Planetside 2 can justify it, many bigger titles could) and it’s up to governments/ISPs to be held accountable for their terrible/lackluster effort. Data caps needs to be abolished too.

With events and the such, I suppose that really is a case of people gotta’ try and band together community style.
But infrastructure improves should be something which never stops, it should be constantly upgraded.

Reader
Ket Viliano

Valve and Blizz don’t pay bribes. They also don’t care about rural customers.

As for providing servers, Riot had to build a custom private backbone to manage LoL traffic. It goes way beyond servers, to leasing the fiber, getting it lit, and negotiating routing table information to cut the ping times.

Smaller outfits could look into Softlayer, which has been bought by IBM and is being rebranded as… (looking it up) … Bluemix.

https://www.ibm.com/cloud-computing/bluemix/data-centers

https://www.ibm.com/cloud-computing/solutions/gaming-cloud/

In the US, several states have passed laws preventing municipalities from creating their own public ISPs. The bribery is pretty easy to follow.

Reader
MesaSage

TIL Bree and I were near neighbors. Both now ExNewMex.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Modrain

Pokémon GO’s rural issue is thankfully easily solvable… not basing all core systems on city-related points of interest, for example. It was a poor game design choice by Niantic, and as Niantic repeatdly proved, you don’t want them to make too many choice on anything.

Cases like Hearthstone’s event are however a lot trickier to solve. You can’t incentivize people to do what you’d like them to do (LAN parties) without bringing something special on the table, unless you only care about your most devoted fans. Yet at the same time you exclude the vast majority of the players (especially rural ones), who won’t ever be able to attend such events. I don’t think there is a good solution. The average player only care about the event due to the exclusive reward, so, you don’t have that many levers to pull.
The easiest way out would be for players to stop caring that much about exclusive content, but we’re far from reaching such a point.

Reader
Schmidt.Capela

I don’t care for exclusive content, but not in the way you want players to. I tend to dislike exclusivity even when I’m the one receiving the exclusive items, so if the game has any exclusive content I truly want, I’m likely to leave it unless/until that content is made available for everyone, even if I was able to get it myself.

Personally, I find uniqueness that comes from others being unable to make the same choices as me to be utterly undesirable. The kind of uniqueness I value is when the choices I made are available for everyone to make, but I’m the only one that has chosen in the specific way I did.

Reader
Simon F

Infrastructure in Sweden is good, but when it comes to something like Pokémon Go, it’s horrible. I used to go in a circle for like 4-5 km to catch Pokémon and get items. Like… that’s all that game ever became for me. There were gyms, strongest Pokémon was Lapras 90% of the time, because that’s basically the only decent enough Pokémon you could catch. Not to mention, while there were gyms, they were so damn far away from each other that even by car, you could expect it to take 5-10 minutes to get from one gym to the other. Basically, you’d hatch a lot of eggs if you decided to go and challenge gyms. The 4 that existed.

Now don’t get me wrong here, I was in a fortunate situation. Loads of people reported that they had like 1 Pokéstop, no gyms, and some people couldn’t even find Pokémon, no matter how much they walked around. However, me being in a fortunate situation and it still being terrible, that just goes to show that the game was essentially flawed. It’s a good game for people who live in cities, but for anyone else, it’s just trash.

But hey, at least you can sit in an outhouse in the middle of nowhere and have 4G connection on your phone, so with a laptop, you could play pretty much anything you’d want until the battery runs dry.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Patreon Donor
Loyal Patron
BalsBigBrother

I can only speak for my own experience as a rural resident of the UK but I would say that if the game companies really want to make a difference then they should step up pressure the ISP to give better coverage in those areas first and foremost.

My own internet isn’t great for my own purposes as a gamer it just barely makes the grade and is certainly not comparable to what is available in most cites or even urban areas. If you then look at London which can offer a 1 terabyte up / down domestic lines then I may as well be on dial up.

Honestly until the infrastructure can meet the demands no matter where you happen to live then anything gaming companies do will only be a band aid at best.

dixa
Reader
dixa

Do they want gyms in the middle of pastures? A good chunk of the open space in rural areas is privately owned and those owners don’t want phone-zombies waltzing in their lands all willy nilly.

The internet issue is a real one. Google has been trying to get low cost or free fiber out to many areas only to be fought by phone and cable companies who “own” the conduits. That shouldn’t even be a thing. Why is it that in the heart of San Jose all internet pipelines are owned by only two companies – AT&T for the phone lines and Comcast for the cable lines. Your only options for internet here are either these two companies or companies that sublet off these two companies.

It’s all just more corporate greed.

Reader
Robert Mann

Corporate and political greed, as deekay noted. Our government and the lobby industry are at direct odds with the best interests of the people on so many cases just like this one.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Loyal Patron
Jack Pipsam

Surely there’s phoneboxes, bus-stops, fire-stations ect dotted about the place, even separated.

deekay_plus
Reader
deekay_plus

it’s more than that, those monopolies are pretty much legislated by various levels of government.

and considering that ma bell was broken up only to be replaced by a far more sinister and lower quality (southwestern bell come AT&T) company that is far more monoplistic and anti competitive.

but federal and state regulators don’t have the stomache to break up these monopolies that they had in the 80s and 90s. so it’s just gets worse for consumers.

Reader
starbuck1771

Sadly there is no fix for this. That’s the drawback of living in a rural community. Heck I live in the city and it has been years since I went to a LAN party. Last time I went to one it was 2005 for Madden 2K5 football league at a local internet cafe.

deekay_plus
Reader
deekay_plus

you miss out probably the biggest factor and most longstanding factor in online gaming for rural and remote residents of canada and the US –

that despite massive subsidies and funding to do so, ISPs have largely slacked off or outright resisted improving infrastructure and connectivity in rural and remote areas across the two countries.

while in the US many major cities suffer from essential monoplies (along side other shady and unfair business practices held up by local and state governments), rural areas are even worse for that. while often suffering from extremely low up and down rates and severe data caps.

and that also goes for canada.

my city’s internet choices were extremely lacking until a few years ago when they finally introduced modern speeds. and for those speeds we pay far more than my european peers who get vastly higher. and i pay an additional premium to have unlimited bandwidth after years of getting pinged due to duplicated MAC addresses on modems used by my ISP(although canadian ISP consumer forums suggested my elderly neighbors must’ve hacked my router somehow that required physical access to push a button to even begin accepting new connections, we had outages of the modem going totally dead and needing to be replaced, or were out of town for a weekend, only to see data usage on the ISP bandwidth meter).

i’ve played with a number of rural ontario and alberta residents over teh years who had to go without playing the latest game or delayed due to slow download speeds on launch client downloads and big patches or because their rediculously low data caps meant they were over for the month before the month even started.

doubling down on these things is how major social media like facebook seem intent on maxxing data caps for their users with auto play videos (and oddly the paradigm of still pictures as videos on fb which i’ve seen speculation and indication from my fb fan page ownership that once your page is approved fro revenue sharing videos bring in higher revenues than normal pics), microsoft originally making windows updates peer 2 peer by default (now changed it seems based on recent installs of win10), and ofc the ubiqitous mmo launcher that has p2p enabled by default (or even infamously pando media booster which ran in teh background at all times leeching your bandwidth in an obfuscated and hard to uninstall manner).

wpDiscuz