Devolver Digital Alleges ESA Meddling Cost Them 100k This E3

Devolver Digital Alleges ESA Meddling Cost Them 100k This E3

Devolver Digital claims that the ESA played a role in a sequence of events that cost the indie publisher 100k.

Apparently, Texas-based Devolver Digital — who is known for publishing an array of some of the best and some of the weirdest indies in the industry — lost a whopping $100,000 after the City of Los Angeles prevented it from using a parking lot it had rented to expand its E3 presence.

So what went down? Well, it all started with Devolver renting out the aforementioned lot in order to double its presence (which it decided to do because for the first time ever E3 was allowing the public — 15,000 people of the public — to attend the show). For those who aren’t familiar with what the indie publisher does each year at E3: it rents out of a parking lot at Hooters across the street from E3, where it showcases a variety of games, has free food and’s essentially E3’s own festival.


But to accommodate for the above-mentioned expansion and the inevitable more attendees, Devolver also rented out the adjacent parking lot — which is not a Hooter’s parking lot, but one owned by the actual City of Los Angeles, aka it’s not a privately owned space. This lot is usually rented by E3 (the ESA) itself; however, Devolver beat them to the punch this year.

So what was the issue? Well, apparently Los Angeles City officials were not aware of the nature of Devolver’s plans for the site, or rather its intentions, and thus it decided to ultimately deny Devolver the permits to use it as anything but a lot for parking. But according to Mike Wilson, co-founder of Devolver, it wasn’t as straight-forward as this: with the co-founder going as far as to accuse the ESA for being involved with the denial of the permits.

Wilson had the following to say specifically:

“E3 does not like us being here. We’ve always had a long-standing love-hate relationship. But not in a fuck-with-us kinda way, until this year. They just started making trouble for us with the City, saying, ‘How dare you rent this space out to these renegades, blah, blah, blah.’

He continues:

“Obviously, they have a lot of sway with the city. Phone calls were made and threats. We were being bullied.”

Wilson apparently contemplated litigation but opted to just let it go and avoid any more trouble that could endanger the company and what it is doing.


He also points out that companies like Activision and EA hold large off-site events during E3; however, these companies are officially ESA members, and thus help the E3 presenters make money. Meanwhile, Devolver is not an official ESA member, and thus it doesn’t help make the ESA money with its event.

Wilson adds:

“I think this is why this is happening, because (the ESA) is struggling to maintain its relevance.”

When asked by Polygon if the ESA contacted the city about Devolver, a spokesperson for the ESA simply responded “No, we didn’t.” One senior ESA staff member, who asked to remain unidentified, told Polygon that the ESA doesn’t have as much influence over the city as Wilson is suggesting, and that Wilson is simply seeking to generate publicity. The staff member adds:

 “We’ve got better things to do than worry about Devolver.”

At the moment of writing this, the City of Los Angeles has not commented on the situation.