SOPA, Video Games And You

    January 13, 2012
    Zach Walton
    Comments are off for this post.

The Entertainment Software Association supports SOPA, but do the game developers and publishers they represent support it as well?

It’s an interesting question that has raised a lot of eyebrows the past few weeks as more and more publishers and developers have risen up in opposition to the dangerous legislation.

The ESA issued a statement to Joystiq on why they support SOPA last week. Here it is in its entirety:

“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. We are mindful of concerns raised about a negative impact on innovation. We look forward to working with the House and Senate, and all interested parties, to find the right balance and define useful remedies to combat willful wrongdoers that do not impede lawful product and business model innovation.”

That last paragraph is especially interesting. They claim that they support the House and Senate so they obviously support SOPA and PIPA but are looking for ways to stop piracy that “do not impede lawful product and business model innovation.”

They could achieve this goal to “not impede” by supporting the OPEN Act, the safer alternative to SOPA. The ESA has not updated their stance, however, so it’s safe to assume that they are still firmly in the pro-SOPA camp.

The problem with developers and publishers is that they are represented by the ESA. This makes all of them supporters of SOPA by association.

Sony, Nintendo and EA, all members of the ESA, listed their support for SOPA. They had removed their support after some anger, mostly at Sony, arose from the depths of the Internet. Of course, when asked by Joystiq, EA said, “EA never expressed a position for or against SOPA.” I think putting the company’s name on the list of SOPA supporters firmly planted them in the for SOPA camp.

Some developers that are represented by the ESA have stood up against SOPA though. The list is still really small unfortunately. The confirmed list is Epic Games, 38 Studios, Mommy’s Best Games, Trion Worlds, Major League Gaming, Riot Games, Nvidia and Red 5 Studios. Out of all those companies, only Epic, 38 Studios, Trion Worlds and Nvidia are members of the ESA. They are a minority where as the other publishers just seem to delegate any concerns over SOPA to the ESA.

Capcom was the first to do this as they said that the ESA represented them in legislative matters. They then doubled back and said that they never claimed to support SOPA and that anybody inferring that from their statement was practicing bad journalism. I hate to break it to you, Capcom, but SOPA is a legislative matter.

Sega was even worse when a fan asked for their position on the matter. Sega sent back a form letter telling the concerned gamer that they need to “hard reset” their device. They apologized later for the answer, but still gave no official stance on the subject.

Once again, this is the main problem. By remaining silent, these publishers are supporting SOPA and the ESA.

That’s where you, the gamer, comes in. Keep pestering these publishers to actually say something about it. The more publishers that come out against SOPA, the more likely that the ESA would drop their support for it. This can’t be done by a few dedicated concerned gamers though. Get your friends, your clans, your guilds and everybody else in on this.

Gamers are a powerful force that have and can achieve a lot. Making publishers and developers formulate an opinion on SOPA independent of the ESA should be a piece of cake. We just need to show them our sheer force and numbers.

The companies that have yet to make a stance are 505 Games, Deep Silver, Disney Interactive, Eidos Interactive, Ignition Entertainment, Konami Digital Entertainment, Level-5, Namco Bandai Games, Natsume, Nexon America, Perfect World Entertainment, Square Enix, Take-Two, Tecmo Koei, THQ, and Ubisoft.

Getting a stance, even a pro-SOPA one, is an important step in this fight. Without knowing, we are left to just assume they are supporting it. Don’t let them delegate this stuff to the ESA. It’s too important to just let them delegate everything to them.

Reddit can do a black-out, every tech company can voice their dissent but gamers are a large force that can make things happen.

Demand action and the ESA will have to notice.

  • Ron Mangroe

    The gamers action is simple. Stop buying new releases. Thats all. Just stop buying new released games.

    The video game industry is making more money than ever, despite the horrible economy, despite piracy. In fact this industry continues to grow and yet they have the nerve to support SOPA.

    Unless the video game cartels publicly denounce their support from SOPA, while taking their names down from this list, including ESA, do not buy new release games.

    The video game companies support SOPA! Dont believe their worthless chatter trying to side step on the issue. Game compaines only care about gamers money. So stop giving them cash! Stop buying new released games!!

    • Zach Walton

      The games industry is not making more money. They are losing money as NPD numbers for December revealed. It’s not a lot and they are still making bank, but gaming is not growing exponentially like it used to.

      Also, the games industry is the only industry that piracy directly affects and harms. It’s not as bad as some people would have you believe, but it is a problem.

      If you read my piece, you would also see that not all developers and publishers support SOPA.

      Not buying new games isn’t going to solve any problem and in fact would make things worse. Buying used games is more damaging to the games industry than piracy as year after year of research has proven.

      Show some support and voice your opinions. Publishers are more catering to their fan base than other mediums. Have a little faith.

  • Jess

    Can EA ignore 125k people calling on them to publicly oppose these bills? http://www.change.org/petitions/tell-electronic-arts-to-oppose-internet-censorship

  • Bret

    I love websites like this where the writer of the articles responds to comments. I have a question for you, Zach. SOPA would make it a felony simply to show video game footage on youtube, correct? So the developers are supporting the bill to prevent piracy, but the bill also prevents somebody like the Angry Video Game Nerd from showing footage for 30 year old games? This seems like overkill to me. Preventing people from showing video game footage online isn’t restricting demand for a product. And it could potentially increase demand for it.

    • Zach Walton

      Hey Bret, I just got into work this morning so I just saw this.

      As to you question, yeah, the law would make it a felony to stream copyrighted material such as video game footage. The problem is, pretty much every game journalism outlet does this to provide gameplay footage to people who are on the fence about a game. It used to be that back in the day, just reading about a game in a magazine was enough, but many gamers want to see the game in action before they commit to a purchase.

      It also would effectively destroy the Let’s Play community which is ridiculously popular on YouTube. If you are unfamiliar with it, Let’s Play is where a person or a team play through a game in its entirety while providing colorful or insightful commentary. It’s a wonderful video feature that needs to keep on happening.

      Of course, the most popular use of game footage recording are video walkthroughs. While some people, like myself, are content with just using text guides on GameFAQS, some people like to have the video walkthrough that will help them through a particularly tricky part of a game. I know I’ve used video walkthroughs for some of the harder parts of Catherine.

      So yes, game footage recording, especially on YouTube, is incredibly important to the industry. The problem is that publishers and developers are only seeing the stop piracy part and don’t see the regulations to other forms of so called “copyright infringement.” They rely on gameplay footage from fans just as much as they do their own footage.

      Don’t get me wrong though, I don’t support game piracy in the least. Piracy is the most damaging to the games industry, more so than any other industry. There are other ways in combatting this though. The best way is to provide the best value to consumers without punishing them. I think CD Projekt Red did this well with the Witcher 2 and its lack of DRM. More and more publishers are realizing this and are using value added material to convince gamers to buy their product.

      Wow, this turned out to be a full article in and of itself, but it’s something that I’m passionate about. If you have any more questions or any other subjects you want to discuss, feel free to comment more. I enjoy them!

  • Bret

    wtf I posted a question to Zach a day ago and it never showed up on here.

    • Bret

      oops nm there it is. I thought the most recent posts were at the top.

  • http://affordablemedz.com James cameron

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  • Anon

    video game developers should use a system that makes buying games and content for games simple. Steam is a perfect example of this, the games are easy to purchase and download, the games are updated automatically so no one is running an out of date version and it and it allows you to download your games across multiple accounts providing that you enter your account details on each computer you download them to.

    At the moment content developers are quite happy to screw over people who purchase legitimate copies of games with stupid copy protection and/or forcing gamers to use software that provides a horrible user experience. EA and ubisoft are prime examples, ubisoft due to their always online policy and EA because origin is horrible attempt to replicate what steam does which players will be forced to use.

    I buy legitimate games and find it frustrating when i’m forced to log in to services like windows live before i can play the games i’ve purchased. SOPA is just IP owners looking for an easy and below the belt win against software pirates that will ruin the internet for everyone else.

    • Anon

      *and it and it allows you to download your games across multiple accounts providing that you enter your account details on each computer you download them to.

      allow me to correct that statement, meant to say

      and it and it allows you to download your games across multiple COMPUTERS providing that you enter your account details on each computer you download them to, and they can only be played on that one account.

      sorry it was a bit of a rushed post =s