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Video Game Industry Association Appoints New President, CEO

Stanley Pierre-Louis, an industry executive with more than two decades of entertainment experience, will be the Entertainment Software Association’s (ESA) new President and CEO, the group announced Monday.

The news comes days after a months-long investigation into the association by Variety found an organization adrift, staggered by the departure of its past president who had a created a toxic environment rife with internal politics, witch hunts, and in-fighting.

Over the course of its investigation into the departure of Entertainment Software Association president Mike Gallagher by Variety, nearly a dozen current and former employees and industry professionals described an ESA struggling to find a path forward. Questions have been raised by employees and members of the association about its relevance, its efficiency and whether the E3 trade show should be spun off from the lobbying group.

While Pierre-Louis assumed the role of acting president and CEO in October 2018, no decision had been made as of earlier this month about who would take on that role permanently.

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Monday, the association announced that Pierre-Louis will assume the permanent role of President and CEO immediately. He joined the ESA as its General Counsel in May, 2015.

Prior to his stint at the ESA, Pierre-Louis served as Senior Vice President and Associate General Counsel for Intellectual Property (IP) at Viacom Inc., where he was responsible for managing major IP litigation, developing strategies for protecting digital content and leading other IP-related legal initiatives for brands including Nickelodeon, MTV, Paramount Pictures, and more than 130 other networks worldwide. He previously served as co-chair of the Entertainment and Media Law Group at Kaye Scholer LLP in New York City as well as Senior Vice President for Legal Affairs at the Recording Industry Association of America in Washington, DC.

Pierre-Louis is well respected both inside the office of the ESA and within the board that is made up of members of the association and which directs the association’s actions to some degree.

The issues that plagued the association under its previous president went beyond just unhappiness with his toxic management style, but also with the lobbying efforts of the ESA and the shape of E3 itself.

The future of that annual show, or at least what form it will take in the long run, also seems in question. Late last year, Variety broke the news that PlayStation wouldn’t be attending the association’s annual E3 show, spurring questions about the trade organization’s largest investment and money maker.

Internally, there is some question about whether it makes sense for ESA to split its energies between lobbying on behalf of the video game industry and running a major trade show. And this isn’t the first time the question has been raised.

Currently, the ESA says it has a contract with the LA Convention Center through 2023 to hold E3 there, though the association has broken its contract with the LACC in the past.

E3 is an integral part of the ESA, not just because of the publicity that the show provides the game industry, but also the money it provides the ESA. According to the association’s 2016 non-profit 990 tax filing, the most recent filing with the IRS, the trade show made up about 48% of the ESA’s entire annual budget (which comes out to about $34.8 million) that year.

You can read more about the investigation into the ESA — which includes more than 20 sources — and E3 in Variety‘s report.

In a prepared statement, Pierre-Louis said that he looks forward to leading the ESA and “advocating for the industry with a strong voice and clear vision. The future of our industry is bright and limitless. Video games are a part of the fabric of American culture and a cornerstone of entertainment.”

In speaking with Variety earlier this year for its report, Pierre-Louis references the challenges of the transition.

Pierre-Louis is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Clark University. He earned his J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School, where he also served on The University of Chicago Law Review’s Board of Editors. Following law school, he clerked for Judge David A. Nelson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Pierre-Louis served previously on several boards, including on the University of Chicago’s Alumni Board of Governors, the law school’s Visiting Committee, the Washington Area Lawyers for the Arts, and Lincoln Center Education, the educational arm of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

“Stan’s strategic vision, years of entertainment industry experience, and policy expertise make him the ideal choice to lead our industry through this period of growth and opportunity,” said Robert Altman, Chairman of the ESA Board, and Chairman and CEO of ZeniMax Media, parent company of game publisher, Bethesda Softworks. “The Board and the industry look forward to his leadership of the ESA.”

The U.S. video game industry is one of the nation’s fastest-growing economic sectors and provides more than 220,000 jobs in all 50 states, and more than 520 colleges and universities in 46 states offer programs or degrees related to video games.

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