The ESA’s Michael Gallagher doesn’t believe unionisation is a “significant issue”

The ESA’s Michael Gallagher doesn’t believe unionisation is a “significant issue”

The president of US video games trade body Entertainment Software Association Michael Gallagher believes the strength of wages and opportunity has kept unionisation from being an issue in the games industry.

During E3, Waypoint questioned industry figures for their thoughts on unionisation and labour rights in games. Gallagher told the outlet that the issues had rarely, if-ever, been an issue during his time as president.

“This is, fortunately, an issue we haven't had to deal with much in my time as the leader of the ESA, and I think there's a reason for that,” said Gallagher “The wages in the video game industry are very high. The barriers to exit for employees are very low, and the opportunities to create within the industry are abundant.”

“When you put all of those elements together, it’s created great opportunity for individual laborers, or the game makers, at whatever level, to make choices that empower themselves. So I think that’s why we've had less... it hasn't been a significant issue in the game industry for the last ten years.”

The ESA is a trade group that claims to speak for the US Games Industry; a claim reinforced by major players like Activision Blizzard and Bethesda. Their stance on these issues carries weight.

However, the issue of unionisation in the games industry continues to build in light of events like the ArenaNet firings last week. The ESA confirms that while it doesn’t see an issue right now, it will continue to monitor the conversation.

“We are, of course, paying attention, and we are listening because these issues, we've learned, you have to pay attention to them when they're small because they can become big. And then when they're bigger, they're much more difficult to manage.

But right now, the dialogue that's happening is at a level that is, I would say, in its infancy, to the extent that its going to grow, I don't know.”

Speaking to earlier this year, Devolver and Good Shepherd founder Mike Wilson said that a traditional union was unlikely to work in an industry as spread as video games, but said that developers need some form of collective bargaining

Staff Writer

Natalie Clayton is an Edinburgh-based freelance writer and game developer. Besides PCGamesInsider and, she's written across the games media landscape and was named in the 2018 100 Rising Star list.