ESA: 'COVID-19 has changed how we work, but not what we do'

ESA: 'COVID-19 has changed how we work, but not what we do'

The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has meant that US video games trade body the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) had had to switch up how it worked, but not what its core mission is. 

That's according to CEO and president Stanley Pierre-Louis, who told that the stay-at-home orders in the US meant that it could reach members of Congress or the House of Representatives via phone or video calls in order to discuss the issues facing the games market, rather than meeting in person. 

"[COVID-19] has changed how we do our work, but it has not changed the nature of what we do. For example, where we might travel to a state or walk the halls of Congress pre-COVID, we are now able to reach legislators, regulators and their staff through phone calls and video calls like everyone else," he said.

"There are also video fundraisers where candidates are looking to meet with various industries to ensure that they have an opportunity to be heard with their concerns. And in many ways, you can create deeper connections by having one-on-one meetings with regulators and legislators and staff members, rather than all of the transactional costs of creating an in-person meeting.

"So we've had opportunities to deepen our understanding of what our issues are by having one-on-one sessions, and really be able to target the questions that people have in a setting that is without distraction. We continue our work to ensure that the concerns our industry has get addressed and get an audience. We just do it in a much more targeted way."

Pierre-Louis also said the ESA shares the concerns of EU video games trade body ISFE over the recent verdict reached by the European Court of Justice regarding the transfer of data between Europe and the United States. The court found that the treaty that allowed information to be passed from the EU to the US was void as America doesn't have as strong protections in place.

"The nature of the video game business is that it's global, which means that a company based in the US may have European offices and vice versa," he said.

"And whether you are talking about your employees or video games, audiences, and fans who are on your network, it has an impact on cross border data flow. The decision certainly creates a significant issue with respect to data flow.

"They did leave standing one of the aspects of data flow, which was the standard contractual clauses that are created by the EU and allow for the flow of data, particularly a person's personal data. But it still is less than the ideal of having a Privacy Shield in place. And so we'll be reviewing how that impacts companies from the US side and seeing if there are any solutions we can help fashion. But this is a problem that's not unique to the video game industry."

PCGamesInsider Contributing Editor

Alex Calvin is a freelance journalist who writes about the business of games. He started out at UK trade paper MCV in 2013 and left as deputy editor over three years later. In June 2017, he joined Steel Media as the editor for new site In October 2019 he left this full-time position at the company but still contributes to the site on a daily basis. He has also written for, VGC, Games London, The Observer/Guardian and Esquire UK.