Recently, we censored our blog title in protest to legislation proposed in the US. SOPA and PIPA threaten the very foundation of the internet, all in the name of stopping a few “rogue sites”. Since the introduction of these bills, many consumer rights groups have been vocal in their opposition. Now the ECA has added their voice to those in protest.
In November, I had the opportunity to seek a guest editorial from the ECA on behalf of Techdirt. In this editorial, Jennifer Mercurio raised a few objections to this legislation from the point of view of a gamer. There are many aspects of the legislation that would be harmful to gamers. One of the more controversial portions is the felony streaming provision of SOPA. This would make it illegal to post videos of copyrighted works for display publicly. This would essentially make it illegal to post videos of your gameplay sessions.
There are many other issues raised within the editorial and I recommend that you read it.
More recently, Hal Halpin wrote in an IGN blog that most of the issues that SOPA are based around really boil down to a problem in customer service. In this article, Hal tells of Valve and their efforts in providing a better customer service experience for gamers. This business philosophy has done wonders for Valve which is the leader in online sales of games.
Expanding on this view Hal says the following:
Think about it objectively: the reason for any recent company or brand’s success of late stems from your affinity for the good or service that’s provided. Zappos is a great example. Online shoe ordering….really?! Books? Sure. Sneakers? Didn’t see that coming… The sole (no pun intended) reason for their success isn’t that they create something amazing. In fact, the thing they do create that is amazing is customer loyalty. They create an affinity bond between their brand and their consumers and anything that impedes that – to them, philosophically -is a threat to their core business.
This highlights exactly how a content provider can provide a level of service that not only competes with other similar businesses but also with pirates. If you are not only providing the product your customers want but also an experience that leaves them wanting to come back, you can certainly expect more sales. This is not rocket science. This has been the foundation of business from the rise of capitalism.
Hal also lays some of the responsibility on the gamer. This is something that I can agree with. As gamers, or really consumers of any digital good, we hold a responsibility to follow the law. However, as a business, they hold a responsibility to appeal to their fans and provide a level of service that will benefit their customers. SOPA does not accomplish that. SOPA effectively declares that all fans are potential criminals, which is something that fans are not fond of.
The ECA is certainly one group that understands the current digital climate and their views are very much in tune with gamers. I have grown quite fond of their efforts and will continue to follow and support their work. If you would like to support them in this effort against SOPA, I recommend that you visit their action page on the SOPA.
Disclosure: I am a comment moderator to the ECA’s political blog Game Politics. I am also a member of the ECA and a former Chapter President.