ESA Head Delivers State-of-the-Biz Speech

ESA CEO Michael Gallagher (left) addressed the E3 crowd for the first time yesterday afternoon. Gallagher, hired in May, 2007, opted out of speechifying at last July’s E3 in Santa Monica, citing newness in the position.

Yesterday’s 2008 state-of-the-industry address was a workmanlike effort that had no major high or low points.

Although not seemingly a natural public speaker, Gallagher delivered a credible performance which would have been helped greatly by a warmer venue and better attendance. By our estimate, only 75-100 people caught Gallagher’s speech, delivered in a cavernous meeting room at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Why not utilize the LACC’s cozy theater, as the ESA has in years past?

The biggest disappointment in our view was that there was no audience Q&A following Gallagher’s address. The ESA boss did, however, field one-on-one questions from media types after his talk.

Gallagher termed the current era the "golden age" of gaming and made five recommendations for going forward: 

  • Remember our base. Never forget our loyal fanbase. We must continually push forward and look for new tech to keep them interested and involved.
  • Welcome new gamers. Welcome in converts who’ve joined us recently, continue to serve them, as well.
  • Broaden the use of games. Remembering it is still play, games are increasingly not just recreational. And this is a good thing and a growth trend that must be protected and strengthened.
  • Help parents. We must continue to look for innovative ways to ensure games are parent-approved. All hardware providers include parental controls; this a great step. They now need education on how to use parental tools such as these controls.
  • We must unite to support our policy interests.

The "remember the base" remark is oddly remiscent of partisan politics. Gallagher, of course, was a Bush Administration official before taking the helm at ESA. Although GameSpot felt that Gallagher took a shot at his predecessor, Doug Lowenstein with this remark:

In my predecessor’s time, our organization was fighting politicians, not having them embrace us.

…we didn’t take it that way, believing that Gallagher was simply commenting on the times. After all, if politicians have learned that they can’t successfully legislate game content, those battles were either won or begun on Lowenstein’s watch.

As with Gov. Perry’s keynote, I live-blogged Gallagher’s speech on Twitter. I’ve pasted those observations in after the jump. Once again, these are unedited SMS messages, entered via mobile phone. Please forgive misspellings, punctuation, etc.

ESA boss starts state of the biz speech

Gallagher starts off by thanking guv perry, calls perry’s talk "inspirational"…says two years ago it was unthinkable 4 politician 2 be@E3

Gallagher touting the widespread cultural penetration of games…

He mentions a variety of serious games/games for health type products… Mentions advances in game tech

Gallagher speech is better attended than guv perry’s keynote. He has maybe 75-100 people here

Gallagher talking about sales numbers, mentions Halo 3, GTA IV launches… There are 80K game biz workers in US

Discussing stats in the booklet they hand out. Sez corp America embracing games for training

Gallagher sez entering the golden era of gaming

Sez: remember the base, welcome new casual gamers, broaden use of games, help parents on content assurance

He also calls for unity on policy issues, mentions partnerships with officials by ESRB. Mentions UK ratings debate, sez self-regulation best

Talks about unconstitutional state laws, political criticisms, waste of taxpayer $$$…

Sez 100K members of VGVN, wants to double that by next E3

Wrapping up…

Will he take audience questions? No… Walking offstage. That’s too bad

Overall I thought Gallagher’s speech was so-so. A bit rushed, and he does not project especially well. Said all the right things, though


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