Firefall developer Red 5 Studios is skipping E3 2012 booth, and devoting its energies to an anti-SOPA grass roots movement.
Red 5’s The League for Gamers has been launched as “a gathering place for gamers, developers and industry supporters who want to stand against legislation that’s detrimental to the games industry”, backed by $50,000 previously intended for an E3 booth.
E3 is a major source of income for the ESA, a trade industry body which has thrown its support behind the Stop Online Piracy and Protect IP acts, despite the discomfort of many of the members it represents.
CEO Mark Kern told ArsTechnica the developer pulled out of the show the very same day it had signed off on a booth, having realised that the ESA would not change its stance.
“We’re on the hook with ESA for the money that we owe them, and because of our stance against what the ESA is doing here, I doubt we’ll ever get that money back,” he admitted.
Interestingly, Kern admitted that it was media efforts – particularly those of Shack News – which spurred him to pull out; Red 5 also took Firefall offline to mark an international day of protest against the proposed legislation.
Kern expressed disappointment that corporations and the ESA are “definitely putting corporate needs well above that of gamers’ First Amendment rights, and the First Amendment rights of the Internet in general”, but said even in purely practical terms, the introduction of SOPA and PIPA could be detrimental to Red 5.
“Because we’re a free-to-play game, and we’re heavily into eSports,” he explained.
“We feel that our ability to stream games on sites like JustinTV or other streaming sites around the world is threatened by the fact that if some user were to stream the wrong content on these sites, these advocates for game spectating would be shut down financially.
“We love the idea of user-generated content. We want to see more games with user-generated content, and [SOPA] threatens that as well. Firefall doesn’t have any, specifically, right now, but we do want to protect eSports and the ability for teams and players to stream game content.
“A lot of shoutcasters make their living by streaming content. All it would take is one game company that says ‘That’s not fair use,’ and it doesn’t just affect that streamer, it affects the entire site.”
Hit the link above to read the full interview, which is well worth a read and not as dry as some SOPA coverage.