International Collaboration and Leadership
From Latin America to the Asia-Pacific, ESA collaborates and engages with international partners and policymakers on behalf of US companies, knowing the success of the US video game industry is incontrovertibly linked to the health of the global video game business and policy environment.
There are 2.6 billion gamers around the world and 75 percent of global consumer spending on video games comes from those outside the United States. From Latin America to the Asia-Pacific, ESA collaborates and engages with international partners and policymakers on behalf of US companies, knowing the success of the US video game industry is incontrovertibly linked to the health of the global video game business and policy environment.
“Communication is critical to effectively engaging the international community,” said ESA Vice President of Media Relations and Event Management Dan Hewitt. “Close relationships with local partners, including our colleagues at other video game trade associations, provide the knowledge and means for the industry to work with policymakers and government agencies around the world.”
In 2017, Hewitt hosted the first-ever full-day summit of international communications and public relations professionals from the video game industry. Throughout the meeting, which was held in London at the offices of UK Interactive Entertainment (Ukie), participants discussed important topics such as the current state of the video game industry, best practices for issues management, evolving communications strategies for new media, and information sharing.
On the policy front, ESA Senior Vice President and General Counsel Stanley Pierre-Louis hosted the second annual Video Game Association Summit to discuss issues of global concern – including digital tax, trade, talent and diversity, and privacy. These sessions, which were also held in London, included more than 70 participants, consisting of more than 40 member company representatives and 34 trade association personnel spanning North America, Europe, Australia, Asia, and Africa.
These summits deepened the knowledge of the industry across borders and helped form stronger and more coordinated approaches to the global public policy issues it faces.
In Latin America, ESA continued engaging directly with local members of the video game industry and governments in 2017, sponsoring a third Video Juegos MX video game design competition in Mexico and opposing legislation that would control public access to video games.
Video Juegos MX, which highlights Mexican video game studios and the industry’s potential to drive economic growth, saw a 70 percent increase in participation compared to 2016. More than 400 professional developers, university students, and high school students competed for awards in a wide range of categories. The Mexican Secretariat of the Economy, the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property, the National Institute of Entrepreneurship, and the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (a leading private university) all partnered with ESA for the competition.
“Video Juegos MX shines a light on Mexico’s thriving video game industry and strengthens ESA’s partnerships in the country,” said ESA Vice President of Legal Affairs Jon Berroya. “The competition is a major point of entry for ESA to stress the importance of intellectual property protection to Mexico’s economic growth, safeguarding the hard work of both US and Mexican video game developers in the local marketplace.”
In Chile, ESA worked to reduce the burden on US companies of a local video game rating system enacted outside the Entertainment Software Rating Board’s (ESRB) International Age Rating Coalition (IARC) framework. The law went into effect January 2, 2018, with significant concessions secured by ESA, Chilean and international partners, and the US Trade Representative.
“This represented a significant undertaking on the part of ESA, which was brought into the issue on the eve of the law’s passage in 2013,” said ESA Senior Vice President and General Counsel Stanley Pierre-Louis. “Through the strong partnership of ESA with members, consultants, government officials, and local industry representatives, we were able to achieve remarkable results for the video game industry in a region that is increasingly important to ESA member companies.”
Chile’s legislation highlights the importance of IARC and the ESRB’s international work. Established in 2013, IARC gives video game companies a global, streamlined age classification process. As it expands, submitting products separately to individual rating agencies around the world is becoming a thing of the past.
In 2017, IARC reached an important new market when the Republic of Korea’s Governmental Game Ratings Board (GRAC) joined the authority, making GRAC the sixth rating authority to do so. IARC now includes rating authorities representing more than 1.5 billion people – Classificação Indicativa in Brazil, Classification Board in Australia, ESRB in North America, Pan European Game Information in Europe, Unterhaltungssoftware Selbstkontrolle in Germany, and GRAC.
Bringing 51 million people in Korea under IARC in 2017 was enormous step forward for international efforts to improve business opportunities for US companies and their counterparts overseas. A decade ago, the video game industry united the world’s 2.6 billion gamers with the addition of online features to games. ESA and its partner trade associations across the globe are now uniting the industry itself to reach that community anywhere in the world.