Activision/Vivendi leave ESA, skip E3

Merging publishers cut ties with gaming-industry trade group and confirm absence from annual E3 Media & Business Summit.

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Yesterday, selected members of the gaming press were sent an invitation to register for this year's E3 Media & Business Summit. The invitation offered a nontransferable registration to the 2008 event, which will return the Los Angeles Convention Center from July 15 to 17. It didn't take long for visitors to notice that though Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft were all listed as participating companies, a number of high-profile publishers did not appear on the list. Vivendi, Warner Bros, Bethesda, and several others are all currently missing from the Entertainment Software Association's E3 Web site, as is international superpublisher Activision.

GameSpot has since reached out to several prominent publishers that attended last year's show but were omitted from the ESA's recent list, and can confirm that Warner Bros., Bethesda, id Software, Majesco, and D3Publisher still plan to attend the event.

However, at least one publisher will not be in attendance at the ESA's annual event, which underwent significant downsizing last year. Activision has confirmed for GameSpot that not only will it not be attending this year's E3 Media & Business Summit in LA, but also that it has pulled out of the industry trade body entirely.

"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," an Activision representative told GameSpot in a statement. "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." The publisher did not clarify for GameSpot whether it would be holding an event in the LA area during the E3 time period.

Activision's pullout of the ESA indicates that impending merger partner Vivendi Games will follow suit. A statement from the ESA addressing Activision's move confirms that Vivendi has decided to not renew its membership with the lobbying and representative body.

"While the Entertainment Software Association remains the preeminent voice for U.S. computer and video game publishers, we can confirm that Activision and Vivendi Games opted to discontinue their membership," said Rich Taylor, senior vice president of communications and research, in a statement. "The ESA remains dedicated to advancing our industry's objectives, such as protecting intellectual property, preserving First Amendment rights, and fostering a beneficial environment for the entire industry. Our high level of service and value to members and the larger industry remains unchanged."

Vivendi has not responded to GameSpot's request for comment as to whether it or its subsidiaries, including Blizzard Entertainment and Sierra Entertainment, will be attending this year's show. However, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick has recently said that he expects the near-$19 billion merger to conclude by the end of June, weeks before the annual industry event.

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