The Entertainment Software Association has had a tumultuous 2008. The year isn't even half over, and the gaming-industry trade group has already lost a handful of members representing a cross-section of Western publishers. The biggest of the big, the soon-to-be-merged Activision and Vivendi Games, touched off the wave of departures, and were followed by midsize LucasArts and venerable indie developer id Software.
A fifth departure, that of Pinball Hall of Fame and World Championship Poker publisher Crave Entertainment, was reported by GamePolitics today, and GameSpot has since confirmed the departure with the ESA.
"We can confirm that Crave has decided not to renew its membership in the ESA," said ESA senior vice president of communications and research Rich Taylor. "We value each member of our association, but respect their decision. In conversations with Crave, representatives stated that they value their long-standing membership with the ESA and remain committed to the values and goals of the association."
It is unclear at the moment if Crave will continue with plans to showcase games next month at the E3 Media & Business Summit, the ESA's premiere trade show. Although Activision, Vivendi, and id apparently scuttled any plans for the show when they left the organization, LucasArts and Crave are still listed on the E3 Web site as participating companies.
[UPDATE] A Crave representative has provided a statement on the company's departure, saying, "Crave's departure from ESA at this juncture is not a statement against the value provided by our longstanding membership, but rather was motivated by our need to focus on the impending sale of our company. We will be re-evaluating our decision, hopefully in the near future. Crave still supports the goals and aims of ESA."