Employees Allege ESA Leadership in Turmoil And Problems Mounting

Published: May 13, 2019 1:20 PM /


entertainment software association fallout terminal

Variety recently published a comprehensive, in-depth report on the state of the Entertainment Software Association, and all the leadership troubles of the past few years. Most of it focuses on the former president, Michael Gallagher and his management style, which, according to almost a dozen industry professionals and current and former ESA employees, was challenging at the very least, but often overdemanding. According to the Variety report, one employee was seemingly fired during Variety's investigation and received a hush money settlement.

The ESA currently faces pressures from all sides, with the most urgent matter at the moment being the loot box controversy. However, developers' cries for unionization following several reports on the industry's brutal crunch culture and the WHO classification of "gaming disorder" last year also impacted the association and added to the general state of instability with the internal struggles and low-trust that followed Gallagher's stepping down as president last October.

The Variety report goes into great detail on Gallagher's management style, which could partly explain the current state of the ESA and its general managerial disarray. Under Gallagher, the ESA supported United States President Donald Trump's 2017 tax reform proposal, which upset potential ESA members and drove them away. His dismissal of the seedy underbelly of the gaming industry that is crunch culture was also seen as problematic. And though Gallagher did play a role in the 2011 ruling of video games as protected speech handed down by the Supreme Court, his legacy doesn't seem lasting. Still, interim ESA president and CEO Pierre Louis had an optimistic statement on the future of the association.

We are excited about where the ESA is and where it is headed. One of our important goals is to ensure that the success of the video game industry gets told, to help shine a light on the benefits of video gaming. The ESA has been running very effectively throughout this transition and will continue to do so.
Last Friday we reported on the latest "Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry," a survey published every year by the ESA. Some thought the timing of the survey was highly suspicious as it coincided with the loot box ban bill to be introduced by the United States Senator Josh Hawley. Some even ventured to say this was carefully planned, and that it meant to signal that the vast majority of gamers are responsible adults, which might facilitate the approval of a loot box ban bill. It's likely that we'll hear more about the ESA in 2019 as events unfold.

What do you think of the state of the ESA? Can new leadership leave these troubles behind, or will it continue to plague the association for a while? Let us know in the comments below!


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