Activision rejoins ESA

Call of Duty, World of Warcraft publisher returns to Entertainment Software Association after 5-year absence; Tencent joins lobbying group.


The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) announced today that Activision Blizzard and Tencent have joined the industry group. The ESA is responsible for putting on the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo and represents the industry's interests on Capitol Hill.

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The ESA's membership now stands at 37 companies, including heavyweights like Microsoft Corporation, Nintendo of America, and Sony Computer Entertainment of America, among others.

Activision left the ESA in May 2008 citing "business reasons."

Today, Activision Blizzard chief legal officer Chris Walther said the company is "excited" to return to the ESA.

"ESA has a long track-record of supporting its members and the video game industry, and we look forward to sharing our unique perspective and experience with them," Walther said in a statement.

Tencent is a significant Chinese Internet company that owns a majority stake in League of Legends developer Riot Games. The outfit also owns 40 percent of Gears of War studio Epic Games and has two employees on the developer's board of directors.

"ESA supports and cultivates collaboration among member companies," said Tencent director of business development and industry relations Gordon Bellamy. "We are excited to join an association that promotes the development of the U.S. game industry as we are exploring more opportunities in this market."

The ESA recently organized E3 2013 in Los Angeles, which drew 48,200 total attendees. Next year's event will be held June 10-12 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

The trade association's president, Michael Gallagher, met with United States vice president Joe Biden earlier this year to discuss the role of violent media--including films and games--in mass shootings. The discussions came after the December schoolhouse massacre in Connecticut perpetrated by a reported "deranged gamer" that left 20 children and six adults dead.

ESA lawyers also successfully defended the game industry in a 2011 landmark Supreme Court decision that ruled that a California law preventing retailers from selling violent games to children was unconstitutional. The attorneys, Ken Doroshow and Paul M. Smith, were presented with the GDC Ambassador award for their contributions to the case.

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