Donald Trump has been President for a few week but his actions are already having a tremendous impact on the country (for better or worse). The agenda the GOP and his administration are trying to push is going to have profound impacts on major industries and gaming is going to be one of them.
This list takes a critical look at how the current policies and goals of President Trump could hurt the game industry. Given the short amount of time he has been in office, there is a chance these policies could be abandoned but we as citizens should always be vigilante.
Wild theories with no evidence or over the top dooms day scenarios will not be included on this list. Even though Trump made a minor Tweet many years ago, there will be no discussion on how he could ban video games.
5. The Impact of Tariffs on Consoles
This has been one of the most talked about impacts the Trump Administration could have on the gaming industry, imposing tariffs that could make consoles and gaming accessories more expensive. The fear is that the administration will impose either an across the board tariff or ones directed at China, both could be costly for gamers.
Before anyone starts countering with “Sony is a Japanese company and Microsoft is American” type arguments, what country the company is from won’t matter since most consumer electronics are manufactured by Foxconn in the Peoples Republic of China. Foxconn is responsible for the manufacturing of the Wii U, Switch and PlayStation 4 along with 10% of Xbox One orders.
If the Trump Administration is willing to engage in a trade war with China or go after American companies that outsource their manufacturing, the gaming industry could get caught in the cross fire. However Trump being a businessman, the chances of such tariffs is unlikely as a verity of business could also be harmed.
4. Hampering Attempts to Combat Online Harassment
Online harassment has been a major issues facing individuals in the gaming industry and community. One of the most common tactics has been Swatting, the act of falsely reporting a serious emergency that would require a heavy police response. Another tactic has been doxing, the publishing of private information for the purpose of harassing the individual.
Popular among trolls and those who identify with the Alt-Right, these tactic have been used to either harass and intimidate individuals. It has gotten so toxic in the last few years that elected officials are starting to take action. Law makers across the country have been proposing legislature to criminalize such activities or stiffen penalties that are already on the books.
Given the relationship between the Trump Administration and the Alt-Right, attempts to criminalize such activities may become more difficult. Anti-online harassment laws could be vetoed by the President or the GOP controlled Congress may not make it a priority. Not helping is how Trump supporters have used such tactics against high profile critics of the administration. The future of anti-online harassment laws is unclear at the moment but there still might be some hope.
3. Immigration Restrictions and the Flow of Talent
President Trump signed an executive order that halted immigration from seven Muslim majority nations for 90 days and suspending the relocation Syrian refugees. Tech leaders in Silicon Valley have already condemned the ban while also having to suspended the overseas travel of Muslim employees out of fear they may not be allowed to return to America.
The gaming industry for the most part is also connected with the tech industry of Silicon Valley and will also have to take the same precautions to protect their employees. At the same time the ban may also affect hiring or delay projects because employees were not allowed to enter or return to America. The gaming industry and Silicon Valley has been able to grow thanks to its inclusive atmosphere and its acceptance of a diverse work force.
The new immigration policy could hurt Silicon Valley in two ways with the first being restricting qualified people from entering the country. The second is that it could make it undesirable for talented individuals to wanna immigrate to the United States out of fear of never being allowed to return back to their home country.
2. The Affordable Care Act and Indie Developers
One of the benefits of the Affordable Care Act is that it has encouraged people to pursue their dreams. No longer having to be dependent on an employer for health insurance, visionaries have cut back on their work hours so they can have more time to focus on building their own future. The result were best witnessed in Silicon Valley when there was a massive boom in start-ups following the implementation of Covered California.
The same could be said about passionate game developers who want to bring something unique to the market or unhappy with how the industry titans operate. The last six years has been a golden age for Indie developers and the Affordable Care Act. More enthusiastic developers are willing to take the time and risks to make their dream a reality. Without having to depend on an employer for health care, one could put 20 hours a week to their job then spend a good 15 – 30 hours on their passion project.
Both the Trump Administration and the GOP controlled Congress are determined to either replace and reform or abolish the Affordable Care Act. Abolishing it will be detrimental for Indie developers while certain proposed reforms could hurt tech hot spots in parts of the country. Without affordable healthcare, Indie developers could shutdown or have a hard time attracting talent who may take any job so long as it offers health insurance.
1. Net Neutrality and Online Gaming
Back in 2014, the fate of the internet was at stake after the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled in Verizon Communications Inc. v. FCC that the regulatory agency did not have the authority to impose Net Neutrality. Many feared this could be the end of the open internet as carries like Comcast and AT&T could impose a two tier system that would stiffen creativity and innovation.
The gaming industry was among the most outspoken critics of the ruling and help push the FCC to support Net Neutrality. The fear was that if the internet was broken up based on who paid more then it would detrimental to online gaming and stiffen creativity in the industry. Indie developers and small time streamers were the most vulnerable as they lacked the resources to compete with those who could afford the fast lane.
Thankfully the FCC resolved this by reclassifying broadband access as a telecommunication service meaning its protected under Title II Common Carrier. Despite the victory, the future of the open internet is still at risk the Trump Administration and the GOP congress have been openly hostile towards Net Neutrality.
To make matters worst, Ajit Varadaraj Pai was promoted to the position of Chairmen of the FCC. He is a former Verizon lawyer who has been an outspoken opponent of Net Neutrality while having voted against the Title II protection. Prior to taking the chairmen position, he has vowed to undo the work of his predecessor in protecting the open internet. Yet given how strongly supportive the tech industry has been to protecting Net Neutrality, it’s in Trumps best interest to keep Pai under control at the FCC.
What are your thoughts on the Trump Administration and its impact on gaming? Is there a policy or proposal that could hurt the gaming industry that was missed? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.