ESA Boss Talks Politics, Prez Candidates, Piracy

GameDaily BIZ serves up a lengthy interview with ESA CEO Mike Gallagher (left). It’s definitely worth a read as the first-year CEO dishes on a number of topics, starting with piracy:
 

For video games, [piracy is] a $3 billion issue, and that’s from an industry that has $9.5 billion dollars in sales. That’s a huge amount of leakage… and it’s only going to grow as broadband speeds increase and as the hackers are more adept at circumventing [console] security preventions. It’s already just a disaster in the PC space…

 

How do we send the message?… we have an anti-piracy division within ESA… it works on enforcement very aggressively… we’re going after the sources of the material in Malaysia, Uruguay, and Mexico. We’re working together in Canada… North Korea… We’re also collaborating for the first time with MPAA…

Gallagher also mentioned last summer’s controversial Homeland Security raids on mod chip dealers inside the United States:
 

Domestically, we had a sting where we used 20 different locations, 16 different U.S. Attorney offices, which simultaneously busted a network of traffickers of pirated goods here in the United States.

GamePolitics was among those which questioned the ESA’s radio silence on Fox News’ January smear of Mass Effect. Gallagher spoke about why the ESA held back:
 

We have to be careful as an association that represents the entire industry, that our activities relative to specific companies and specific titles are very carefully selected. We certainly support the thrust of the industry activities and the reaction of the video gaming community to the distortion that Fox published…

Gallagher acknowledged the clout wielded by game consumers in the Mass Effect episode:
 

They pay attention, they are vocal, they are digital… they are heard immediately… That same power is what we want to harness when it comes to influencing policy makers. Policy makers are very gun shy about the Internet… they fear it because its mobilizing capabilities are outside their comfortable zones…

The ESA head diplomatically side-stepped GDB’s question about how the industry viewed the current field of presidential candidates:
 

[The candidates] love technology, they love high tech jobs, they all worry about the economy… So we’re going to focus on those and make sure that our profile as an industry is known to those campaigns… but the cultural aspect of video games, the historical [political] football nature of the industry in the presidential space means we have to be vigilant. I don’t necessarily see the risk being something we can look past with any of the candidates…

Asked about a threat by watchdog group the Parents Television Council to target candidates who accept campaign contributions from the ESA’s new political action committee, Gallaher was dismissive:
 

How many voices have you heard? The one. What we’ve heard in the meantime from other sources is many, many voices saying, "It’s about time [that the industry began contributing.]" And the politicians, our policy makers in this country, will be very appreciative of our industry’s support…

 

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