Devolver Digital lost $100,000 after the City of Los Angeles prevented it from using a parking lot it had rented to expand its E3 presence.
According to a report from Polygon, Devolver had rented the lot to expand its usual presence at E3; not on the show-floor, but the parking lot of a nearby branch of Hooters, where it showcases its games and hands out free beer and food in a more relaxed environment than the one inside the convention centre.
This year, the plan was to double its presence by renting the adjacent parking lot - a space owned by the City of Los Angeles, unlike its usual, privately-owned space. The lot is also normally rented by E3, but this year Devolver got there first.
However, Polygon reports that City officials were unaware of the nature of Devolver's plans for the site, and ultimately denied it the necessary permits to use it for anything other than parking. Mike Wilson, co-founder of Devolver, has accused the ESA of being involved in the denied permits.
"E3 does not like us being here," he said. "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.'
"Obviously, they have a lot of sway with the city. Phone calls were made and threats. We were being bullied."
Devolver is not a member of the ESA, and its E3 presence is entirely unofficial. However, it has flatly denied Wilson's claims, with a "senior ESA staff member" saying, "we've got better things to do than worry about Devolver."
However, if Devolver's plans to expand its presence at E3 didn't work in one way, it was certainly successful in another. When the indie publisher announced that it was planning an E3 press conference, it was difficult to know what to expect. What emerged was a grotesque parody of the way huge corporations talk to consumers from public stages like those offered by E3.
Devolver received our E3 Award for Best Marketing for its video, which you can watch below.