Jan 18, 2012

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ESA Supports PIPA/SOPA at Gamers’ Expense

The Entertainment Software Association is an association that serves gaming companies and its members. Many of them are larger companies such as Electronic Arts, Epic Games, Sony, Nintendo and Ubisoft. So it shouldn’t be that much of a surprise to gamers that the ESA backs SOPA and has spent $190,000 lobbying PIPA. If you think the ESA was on the side of the gaming industry, think again.

Eariler this month the ESA released a statement backing both acts, saying:

“As an industry of innovators and creators, we understand the importance of both technological innovation and content protection, and do not believe the two are mutually exclusive. Rogue websites–those singularly devoted to profiting from their blatant illegal piracy–restrict demand for legitimate video game products and services, thereby costing jobs. Our industry needs effective remedies to address this specific problem, and we support the House and Senate proposals to achieve this objective.”

Even after many gaming companies have come out against SOPA/PIPA, the ESA and VGVN remain silent, ignoring the fact that the industry they claim to protect has completely denounced both bills.

Last year the ESA and Video Game Voters Network (VGVN) lobbied heavily against the California Video Game Law that would fine retailers if they were caught selling M rated games to minors. I was completely in favor of the bill and said more than once that the only reason the ESA is opposed to the bill is because they would lose money on the M rated games sold to minors or that were purchased by parents for their child. If you ever doubted that fact, then here is your proof.

During the time when the California Video Game Law was going through the supreme court, the ESA was actively lobbying for PIPA. According to Kotaku they spent $190,000 in lobbying fees during the spring and summer of last year. Let me reiterate, at the same time the ESA was lobbying to gamers and industry leaders that the California Law was a form of censorship; they were actively paying lobbyist to gain support for a bill that, in my opinion, has more to do with censorship than the California Law ever had. While people might not know as much about The Protect IP Act (PIPA), it is just as terrible as SOPA and it’s safe to say that the majority of the gaming industry is against it. This means that while the ESA was standing alongside the industry, at the same time they were doing something that the majority of the industry is against.

Surprised by that? Well, you shouldn’t be.

The ESA doesn’t look out for gamers in any meaningful way, despite their front last year. Just look at their website! This is what they are all about: “The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) is the U.S. association exclusively dedicated to serving the business and public affairs needs of companies that publish computer and video games for video game consoles, personal computers, and the Internet.”

Everything they do is in the best interest of the companies they represent and of course they need to secure profit for themselves. While many of us sit here thinking the ESA is about providing support to the gaming industry and us gamers, this definitely isn’t the case and we as gamers need to remember that the ESA is looking out for their best interests, not ours.

Only seven months ago, the ESA was sitting hand-in-hand with the gaming community actively supporting gamers in the fight against the California Law. At no point did anyone question their reasons for opposition. Well, if you thought the ESA was speaking on your behalf, sorry to burst your bubble, but they aren’t. Until more companies like Red 5 Studios or Epic Games (who are members of the ESA) publicly denounce SOPA/PIPA and the ESA’s stance on the two bills, gamers should be worried. I hope that this situation has opened the eyes of many gamers who will now see what the ESA is all about. I urge you to join the petition created by the League for Gamers, and put a stop to the ESA’s support of SOPA/PIPA.

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About Eric Galaviz

Currently learning how to play League of Legends and recovering from E3. You can follow me on twitter @theherp80 that's also my Xbox Live and PSN Name if you want to hit me up on there feel free.