Game publisher Devolver Digital has accused the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) for a $100,000 loss during E3.
According to a report from Polygon, the ESA apparently barred Devolver from holding their own private festival during E3 this year, located in a private parking lot across the road.
Devolver Digital often rents a private lot on Figueroa Street, and this year wanted to double their presence due to the opening of E3 to the general public. The Austin-based publisher then rented an adjacent lot to its original location - a lot often used by E3 for storing exhibitor semi-trucks.
The problem, however, came from permit access. The ESA, who is the organizers behind E3, receive no revenue from off-site activities, but the lot rented by Devolver Digital is not private property but owned by the City of Los Angeles. City officials then denied Devolver Digital's all of their permits for the space, save for vehicle parking.
Devolver was also told that it couldn't use the lot to store its equipment. "They assigned us a special asshole to make sure we did not do one thing," said Devolver Digital co-founder Mike Wilson.
Wilson was forced to cancel their plans for E3, and had to squeeze their represented developers, including the Indie Megabooth, into a smaller lot further away from the E3 grounds.
Wilson is blaming the ESA for the denial of permits. "E3 does not like us being here. We've always had a long-standing love-hate relationship," stated Wilson. "But not in a fuck-with-us kinda way, until this year. They just started making trouble for us with the City, saying, 'How dare you rent this space out to these renegades, blah, blah, blah.’ Obviously, they have a lot of sway with the city. Phone calls were made and threats. We were being bullied."
A spokesperson for the ESA refuted Wilson's claims, stating "No, we didn't." Another anonymous source stated that “We’ve got better things to do than worry about Devolver.”
Devolver's issues with the ESA stem back nearly fifteen years, with Wilson antagonizing the ESA on several occasions. He argues that the ESA exhibiting prices are too high for indie developers, with costs reaching tens of thousands of dollars. He even hosted a "mock funeral" for E3 years ago, criticizing the event for being irrelevant for most of the gaming community. This is in a stark contrast to the laid-back atmosphere of Devolver Digital's typical E3 presence, including parties, beer sharing and post-show gossip.
Wilson stated he plans to hold an alternative festival in Austin next year. "We were so excited about a fan festival, we're going to have something in Austin in the spring, and really showcase our indie friends. We're just trying to figure out timing so we don't compete with any other events."
Devolver is not planning to seek litigation against the ESA for the $100,000 loss, which Wilson states is what he would normally spend at E3 anyway.
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