SOPA, Video Games And You

    January 13, 2012

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.