promotion picture for game never alone with boy and fox

The True Cost of Never Alone for Nunavummiut

November 22, 2014

10 Minutes
Ryan Oliver

Ryan Oliver

About the author

Ryan is the Founder of Pinnguaq. His experience includes eight years in the Economic Development and Transportation Department in Nunavut and six years as the Executive Director of Pinnguaq. He has conceptualized and delivered the te(a)ch program since its inception and has a solid portfolio of business and community relationships in Nunavut that support the project.

Never Alone was released this past week and for those unfamiliar it is the first game to come out of the worlds “first Indigenous owned video game developer and publisher in US history”.  It’s an important game, especially for Nunavummiut as it focuses on Inupiaq culture, a cousin of Inuit.  The only language spoken in the game is Inupiaq, a very very close cousin to the Inuktitut language.  

It is replete with cultural stories and features and tells a story familiar to Inuit and Nunavummiut.  Pinnguaq was created because we saw our friends and family playing games that did not reflect the experience they lived day to day. Never Alone is one of the first games to be released that truly does reflect that experience. Naturally, for us, it is exciting and we believe it should be mandatory playing for all, but especially the people of the Circumpolar Arctic.

I was excited when it was released and immediately downloaded the game.  On PC the game is around 2.5 gigs.  Not the largest game by any means, but it got me thinking about what that means for Nunavummiut. We are limited by our infrastructure and pay the most for Internet in the country. This very important game would for most people take up a full quarter of their monthly bandwidth allowance.  So what does it cost for Nunavummiut to play experiences that are finally reflecting their culture?

A majority of Nunavut communities are serviced by the ISP “Qiniq”, a subsidiary of SSI Micro.  The rates for Internet can be simply broken down into three easy catagories.  These can be found by clicking on this link, but I’ve recreated the basics below and added a third column that expressed those costs in “cost per megabyte”.

Plan Name:AtiigiallakAtii PlusAtii Pro
Transfer Ratio10gb15gb30gb
Cost Per Month$80$129.95$369.95
Cost Per GB$8.00$8.66$12.33
Overage Fee$17.50/Gig$16.00/Gig$15.00/Gig

Most homes have either the Atiigiallak (10gb/Month) or Atii Plus ($15gb/Month).  What really gets most people is when that transfer ratio expires.  Then users are asked to pay between $17.50/Gig and $15/Gig for each additional Gig used over.  It is very rare for users to not go over their bandwidth transfer ratio in a single month.

We should take nothing away from the work Qiniq is doing. They are doing above and beyond the best they can with the limited and constantly at risk support they receive from the federal Government and because of Qiniq, every community in Nunavut (even Grise Fiord) has working Internet.

But what is the true cost for Nunavummiut to play this game in their home communities?  It’s pretty simple math.

The game is currently retailing for $15.29 (Canadian) on Steam.  Presently on sale (regular price is $16.99) due to its release.  The file to download is ~ 2.5 Gigbytes and that makes for some pretty simple math.

Plan Name:AtiigiallakAtii PlusAtii Pro
Cost of Never Alone$15.29$15.29$15.29
Bandwidth Cost(2.5 Gig File)$20.00$21.65$30.83
Actual Cost of Game$35.29$36.94$46.12

This assumes that Nunavummiut will sacrifice the 2.5 Gigs they normally use during a month.  Without a doubt in most households, this type of download would drive users into “overage fees”, meaning the additional cost to download the game would range from $37.50 (2.5 Gigs at $15/Gig) to $43.75 (2.5 Gigs at $17.00/Gig).  This means that with the cost of the game ($15.29), a user would be looking at a total cost of as much as $59.04.

If only Nunavut had a company willing to install a fiber optic line. Oh, we do? Let’s hope the Federal Government can find it within themselves to not balk at backing such a worthwhile endeavor to help bring down the cost of living and bring up the quality of life for all Nunavummiut.

If there is one game Nunavummiut deserve to play, it’s Never Alone. They shouldn’t have to pay 4 times as much to do so as everyone else.

You might also like