he Electronic Entertainment Expo, more commonly known as E3, has been struggling lately to remain significant in the gaming industry. Ever since E3 stopped accepting public attendees and became more of an invite-only show, it’s lost a lot of its luster. That, and no more booth babes either. The whole gaming nirvana feeling from the show has faded substantially. Now, five major studios have opted out of displaying at this year’s E3, two studios have dropped out of the association all together.
Vivendi Universal and Activision, considered by many to be the top studios in the industry, announced yesterday that after careful consideration and “business reasons” the company will not be participating in E3 2008, which is set to be held July 15-17 in the Los Angeles Convention Center. In fact, Vivendi doesn’t plan to return to E3 for the foreseeable future. The Entertainment Software Association (ESA), owners and operators of E3, have confirmed that Activision and Vivendi have opted all together to discontinue their membership with the organization.
"After careful consideration, Activision has decided not to renew its ESA membership for business reasons and will not be participating in any official E3 activities. We appreciate the work that the ESA has done over the years in promoting the interactive entertainment industry with state and federal governments and wish the ESA best of luck with the show," said Activision reps.
Another big loss for E3 will be Blizzard, who also confirmed that it will not be making an appearance anymore at E3 shows. Blizzard however, has its own popular convention called BlizzCon.
Earlier today NCSSoft and Her Interactive have been reported to follow the same lead as Vivendi and dropped out of the show. Contrary to earlier reports id Software has confirmed attendance at this year’s show.
The studios cite timing of development cycles and investor relations as the reasons for pulling out. However, there are rumors of displeasure with the president of ESA, Mike Gallagher and his poor handling of the association. Under former president, Doug Lowenstein, ESA was driven to be an activist for the gaming community with Lowenstein becoming a visible spokesman in congress.
While budgets for lobbying rose in 2007 under Gallagher, fewer issues were confronted by ESA. In March, ESA shut down its New York office, which was headed by Gail Markels, senior VP and general counsel. Markels led ESA’s charge against unconstitutional video game laws and succeeded.
E3 was previous held during the month of May, but in 2006 ESA announced the show would downsize and restructure to meet industry needs. The show was then moved to July and became invitation only.
It is interesting to note that NCsoft was fined by the ESA at E3 2006 for noise violations and had heated exchanges. “We’re not sure we’re on the same plane with this organization,” said vice president of strategic development Fred Schmidt, “I’m not sure we’re coming back here.”
The allure of E3 past is gone. Sadly.