Mike Gallagher, head of the Entertainment Software Association, says members of his trade group favor tax reform, but they are more cautious on social issues.
Mike Gallagher, the chief of the video-game-industry lobby, says he’s getting more calls from members of the trade group since President Donald Trump took office.
The industry had largely tuned out Washington, D.C., after gridlock between the White House and Congress tightened in the later years of the Obama administration, he said.
Now, “one-party control in Washington means things can happen,” Gallagher, head of the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), said in an interview ahead of Tuesday’s kickoff of the ESA-run E3 trade show.
Big video-game builders find reasons for both optimism and caution in what they see so far from that one-party control, he said.
Gallagher said ESA members — which include companies like Microsoft, Activision Blizzard, Disney and Take Two Interactive — favor tax reform. In Republican usage, that term typically includes corporate tax cuts and tax relief for profits that U.S. companies repatriate from abroad.
“There are a number of things out there where a good (outcome) could happen,” Gallagher said.
Meanwhile, immigration-policy changes that bolster the ability of U.S.-based companies to import skilled workers under the H1-B program would likely benefit ESA-member companies, Gallagher said.
On social issues, however, Gallagher and the ESA are more cautious.
Video-game developers — clustered in liberal-leaning areas like Los Angeles and Seattle — tend to work for companies that, on paper at least, support broadening their workforce to include a more representative mix of employees across lines of gender, race and sexuality, as well as expanded civil-rights protections.
Like other technology-industry trade groups, the ESA weighed in against the Trump administration’s travel ban, since suspended by the courts, that was applied to citizens of several Muslim-majority countries.
“It was a bad approach, bad idea, bad delivery,” Gallagher said.
On net neutrality, or the policy that internet service providers treat internet-delivered content equally, Gallagher said he’d prefer to wait for concrete new proposals from Washington, D.C., before spelling out his views.
ESA members include companies that may have differing views on the subject. Member companies like Microsoft both build games and run internet-distribution infrastructure, while others exist purely as game builders.
The baseline policy — promoting a fast and affordable consumer internet capable of delivering games — is the industry’s top priority. Beyond that, it’s too soon to tell. “It’s an evolving conversation within our own industry,” Gallagher said.
As for trade, the ESA is hopeful that the Trump administration starts negotiating the bilateral trade deals that the president indicated in withdrawing from talks on the Asia-focused Trans Pacific Partnership, as well as his intention to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Video-game companies typically push for greater cross-border protection of intellectual property in such deals.
Now, Gallagher said, “they need to put their money where their mouth is” and start those talks.