NCsoft exits ESA

Korean MMOG publisher opts out of membership, taking wait-and-see approach to industry body's newly rejiggered E3.

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In a sense, this year's E3 Media & Business Summit was defined not so much by those who were at the Entertainment Software Association's annual trade show, but by those who weren't. Leading up to the one-time premier US industry event, game makers such as Activision Blizzard, LucasArts, id Software, and Crave opted out of their memberships with the ESA. Others, such as NCsoft and Foundation 9, said that though they planned to remain in the industry body, they'd be skipping this year's show.

Today, both NCsoft and the ESA have confirmed for GameSpot that, for the time being at least, the game maker will not renew its membership in 2009.

"While we appreciate what the ESA does for our industry, we can confirm that NCsoft has elected not to keep membership with the ESA for 2009," said an NCsoft representative. "There have been many changes in the gaming industry over the past couple of years and, like other developers and publishers, we have decided to wait to see how related industry events and organizations further develop before rejoining. We will be reviewing our membership status on an annual basis."

"We can confirm that NCsoft decided not to renew its ESA membership," said ESA senior VP of communications and research Rich Taylor. "We respect their decision and remain committed to serving the public-affairs needs of the computer and video game industry."

E3 has begun to face mounting competition from a variety of industry events in recent years. In addition to overseas trade shows such as the Leipzig Games Convention and Tokyo Game Show, E3 has seen domestic challengers from the likes of the Penny Arcade Expo as well as dedicated events put on by individual publishers.

Furthermore, E3 itself has been on the ropes since 2006, when the ESA said that it would be drastically downsizing the event and moving it out of the Los Angeles Convention Center to a more intimate Santa Monica venue. As a result, crowds were cut from their 2006 high of roughly 60,000 to an invite-only crowd of 5,000 by 2007. The new format was not to the liking of a number of top-line publishers--namely EA and Ubisoft--and the ESA has continued to tinker with the format in the subsequent years, moving the show back to the LACC in 2008 and rescaling the event upward for 2009.

For NCsoft's part, the South Korean publisher has fallen on hard times of late. In the face of dismal profits, NCsoft said last month that it would be parting ways with celebrity game designer Richard Garriott as well as shutting down his commercial flop Tabula Rasa at the end of February.

Discussion

27 comments
aura_enchanted
aura_enchanted

yeah but there peofits are mostly from asia where everyone who can type leetspeak plays 2-3 mmo's :P

Zloth2
Zloth2

GW is doing well, as far as I've heard. City of Heroes has been hiring more staff this year and have been making some pretty big innovations in the game. Subscription rates are shrinking but pretty slowly. It's got some years of profitability left in it.

7_armageddon_7
7_armageddon_7

I am really looking forward to GW2. The first three campaigns were awesome: both PvE and PvP aspects. And in terms of PvP alone, GW cannot be beat.

DaylightX
DaylightX

PEELEDbanana, 2 key differences from the 2 games you mentioned and GW. 1). The 2 you mentioned required a monthly fee, GW doesn't. So, strictly speaking, GW can't die unless NCsoft really does go under, as they're not counting on the monthly fee as a source of income. If NCsoft really does go under, it will be a while away with Lineage and Lineage 2 tanking the company. 2. The two that died are both Sci-fi as opposed to Fantasy. From the current market of MMO's, Fantasy genre seems to have higher survivability than Sci-fi. 'sides, GW was released in a stable state, not like a lot of the new MMO's now days (which is also why half of them bit the dust). People won't be forgetting about GW anytime soon, if you've played recently, you'll know that there are still enough players to fill up 4 to 5 districts in one outpost. When special event take place, it can go up to 13, and that's just the English districts.

aliko
aliko

I don't care, as long as they keep Guild Wars alive all is good!

Adam_the_Nerd
Adam_the_Nerd

Ahh man but I really wanted to see some Champions Online and Guild Wars 2 stuff!

Kenji_Masamune
Kenji_Masamune

uh yeah.. lineage 1 and lineage 2 are still major cash cows for NCsoft. Maybe not here in the states, but for world wide L1 and L2 respectively follow behind WOW in terms of subscriber #s. Grant it, it's a HUGE gap, however L2 is still stronger than any other MMO (aside from wow like I said).

PEELEDbanana
PEELEDbanana

DaylightX, As much as i wish it would, i don't think GW2 will come out. With all these MMOs dying (Auto Assault and Tabula Rasa), i feel that NCsoft may be going down too. Also, people will forget about GW really soon unless they really step it up and, at the very least, put some screenies out for us to get hyped for GW2.

DaylightX
DaylightX

@ Gruug- dude, get your facts right. GW has a max player count of 8 (not the 4 you've mentioned, 4 is only at the beginning of the game, so obviously you haven't played it much, if at all) in one instance in PvE, there are special cases where it goes up to 16. Max number of players in PvP can go all the way up to 24. And the instances are NOT hosted on players' PC, they're hosted server side. NCsoft gets away with the no monthly fee model because they release new chapters in shorter successions than other games. Oh, by the way, they've already announced that GW2's gonna be persistent world (i.e, none of that "glorified meeting room" stuff you talked about, that applies to GW only).

aura_enchanted
aura_enchanted

basically guild wars 2 is ncsofts last kick at the can, as stated earlier the the odds of it being a smash hit arent very good (knowing fluff wanting backstory and pariphanalia). and then it has to make up for millions in lost profit. tabula rasa barely broke even if that, and auto assault is still hurting them. at best in ideal guild wars 2 is a well versed break even stategy.

Gruug
Gruug

GW and GW2 (when it comes out) are both NOT MMO's. Both might (if you stretch it a bit) be considered (small m) mmo's as in "minor multilplay online". GW and GW2 use and will use small groups running in a totally instanced setting EXCEPT in the match making zones which are nothing but glorified meeting rooms for players. All the actual game play is by no more then 4 players at a time and that all takes place on the hosting players PC. That is why NCsoft can get away with making the game "no monthly fee".

runstalker
runstalker

It's all about Guild Wars 2. Seamless open world + still no monthly fees + likely the best MMO PVP support (if you look at GW's global tournaments). Not to mention ArenaNet has about 40 more staff working on the sequel and all the original core GW team (the architects of WoW, essentially) are still happily employed. Yes, we should all have high hopes for GW 2.

Night_stalker01
Night_stalker01

I wouldn't worry about the financing of GW2, their newest MMO, Aion, Released in Korea little more than a week ago, and it has already broken korean MMO records for a game launch (even toppling over WoW's beta/launch). NCSoft can barely keep up with the influx of new players, and is creating new servers all the time. Aion is set to come out in NA/EU in Q1/Q2 2009 for anyone interested, it really does look like a fantastic game

musicaz70
musicaz70

I just hope that NCsoft stays strong and has a good enough budget to make Guild Wars 2 to it's fullest. I'm really excited to see if they can make it as good as they are saying, while still making it free.

JOKER677
JOKER677

Why would you move from a big place where everybody could go to a smaller place that just looks nice but can hold barely anyone in there dumases

xxxTristamxxx
xxxTristamxxx

I agree. It is going to get worst. If we are not buy as many games the publisher and developers are going to feel the pinch.

firedrakes
firedrakes

yeah old e3 was great seeing alot of games no one heard about where shown their

Franko_3
Franko_3

Good, now use that money to finanace more Guild wars 2

Amir29
Amir29

Being within the time frame where Sony claimed that NCSoft was working on an exclusve PS3 title, this may be a bad time to pull out of E3. Hopefully that one downsizing mistake made by E3 won't cause a chain reaction by publishers to pull out of E3 entirely. Well, I guess we'll just have to see if other publishers follow in NCSoft's footsteps.

Death_Masta187
Death_Masta187

now if the rest of the developers/publishers fallow suit we might get the real E3 back...