id bids ESA adieu

Doom maker confirms it has left E3 show runners and gaming-industry trade body, following long-standing publisher Activision, Vivendi, and LucasArts.


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More ill tidings today for the runners of the E3 Media & Business Summit. GameSpot has confirmed with id Software that it will not be renewing its membership with gaming-industry representative body the Entertainment Software Association. Following initial confusion over id's E3 presence, the ESA revealed earlier this week by omission that id Software had yet to sign on to this year's show, which runs July 15-17 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Earlier this month, longtime id Software publisher Activision and its soon-to-be-merged partner Vivendi Games initiated the ESA exodus by revealing that they would not be renewing their membership dues and had no intention of attending this year's show. Activision Blizzard was then followed out the door by LucasArts, though the Star Wars: The Force Unleashed publisher said that it still plans on attending the ESA's annual gaming exhibition.

Speculation over what has inspired the growing unrest over the ESA reached a fever pitch earlier this week when it was revealed through tax documents that the lobbying group had paid nearly $5.4 million in event-cancellation fees to move E3 from LA to Santa Monica in 2007. The IRS filing also indicated that ESA membership fees had spiked from about $1 million in 2006 to roughly $4.5 million in 2007 as a result of the dramatic downscaling of its revenue-generating trade show.

The ESA had not responded to requests for comment concerning id's departure as of press time.

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Avatar image for Fumpa

What the heck is up with that insane membership fee?

Avatar image for CCyberDDemon

bad news indeed

Avatar image for Nawras

Sad news. I live on the other side of the world and was never able to afford the trip to E3. The year I was able to, the show got downsized.

Avatar image for Mega-Tom

Thats a shame. Old E3 ftw such a brillient show.

Avatar image for CageFury

I think a big part of the magic of E3 was putting the sheer size and force of the gaming industry on display, and by "downsizing" they pretty much screwed that up. I really hope they can do something to bring back the spark, I miss the insanity.

Avatar image for McBainburger

one thing to keep in mind is that ESA represents the publishers.. So the ultimate decision to scale down E3 was all up the publisher's doing... NOT ESA. With that said, the increase in dues was all ESA's fault.

Avatar image for furionpride

This is depressing...

Avatar image for Lord_Foortwenti

What a mess... This is nothing but bad for the industry as a whole. The ESA are the ones that fight unconstitutional anti-gaming legislation when it pops up, and handles many other behind-the-scenes going-ons. That being said, it's really no wonder publishers and devs are starting to leave the trade-group. They took the most popular, highly anticipated video game trade show, and totally destroyed it. I mean, yeah, some publishers and devs were complaining about it, but many more complained about the downsized E3 b/c it was scattered all over, and was very confusing. Then, it's revealed that they spent all that money just to cancel the previous arrangements, and as a direct result, had to increase membership dues by almost I wonder if there will be a new trade-group formed, or what's gonna happen, but it certainly isn't looking good for the ESA

Avatar image for Get_Shorty

What a way to muck things up. Why try to fix something that wasn't broken.

Avatar image for Hvac0120

Wow! In one year they jumped the membership fee $3.5 million. That is insane! I think the publishers would have rather paid for the booth space and dealt with the huge crowd of the old E3's. At least, then all the crazy people stuck in lines buying soda's and swag would pay those extra costs. I can see why a lot of company's have left. It may be in the ESA's best interest to go back (mostly) to the old E3 format. They could still do the media and business meetings in private areas, but they could get money on admission and other stuff.

Avatar image for juddstudd

lol whos left on the ESA now?

Avatar image for mrkame16

The IRS filing also indicated that ESA membership fees had spiked from about $1 million in 2006 to roughly $4.5 million in 2007 as a result of the dramatic you down scale and have the nerve to charge 3.5 million more in fees in a year?? whos running this Hustle i want in.

Avatar image for bardkieran

Totally agree with Fireburger's post. Sounds like an excellent plan

Avatar image for zeus_gb

Another company votes with it's feet. This years E3 isn't looking too good but there's still plenty of developers/publishers that'll be there.

Avatar image for jmartin1016

Yeah it's doomed. $4.5 million to show a few people a video or a demo. Yeah E3 doesn't stand a chance.

Avatar image for hunter8man

Too bad. I knew that downsizing E3 was going to be nothing but trouble, and I really missed the hype that the event used to gather. After this year, I think you're going to start seeing E3 slowy drift into nothingness.

Avatar image for the3game

Rest in pieces E3... lol

Avatar image for retrofraction12

Who needs E3 when you have the internet?

Avatar image for Mauller

E3 is dead. PAX is the new E3 and it will be more loved than E3 ever was because it's for the gamers. We're the ones that drive the industry.

Avatar image for g_plowking

A couple of weeks before a game is due is more than enough time for me to check up on it, see vids and decide if I want it or not. These days we don't really need E3 showing us games that won't be out for another year.

Avatar image for jivemaster

Goodbye to E3. Change back to how you were in the good ol' days or you will vanish.

Avatar image for donught_luver

R.I.P E3

Avatar image for FireBurger

I think that they should just bring back the old E3 and put some sort of spending-cap on the booths, so that developers and publishers don't feel like they need to shell out millions to one-up the guys down the floor. Part of the problem was that it wasn't any longer cost or time effective for publishers and developers to attend, but with some sort of cap (nothing as strict as the "new" E3), that anxiety could be alleviated. Bring back the light shows, booth babes and whatever else, just keep it reasonable...

Avatar image for Mindchamber

HHAhahaha E3 choked on its own greed.

Avatar image for Paul_TheGreat

We all know that E3 is dead.

Avatar image for grigjd3

$4.5 million annually is a hefty ammount of money and that doesn't include the effort to produce someting for the trade show. Short of giants of the industry, the ESA just doesn't provide enough benefits to justify that kind of price tag. For the money, it's easier to just send people around to popular game stores around the country to show games to people directly - and more effective. I'm much more likely to buy a game that someone personally showed me than to buy one shown at some distant convention.

Avatar image for fencingbean

suprise, suprise (not)

Avatar image for greystone227

Geesh, ESA, what did you really think would happen after you downsized E3? E3 was an enormous event that the public loved, and you took that away and made it super-controlled. In case you didn't realize, the craziness is what made E3 stand out. Then you quadrupled membership fees. If E3 is not ridiculously crazy this year, it's dead.

Avatar image for xgalacticax

yea, Developers want to promote their products to the consumers directly. Thats where their cash comes from. Its all about giving ur consumers a feel for what they are gonna spend money on. Why waste money promoting games thru stuff like the new E3 (where its just the media) when u can just use the resources to promote the games at events like TGS where the general public can check out ur stuff for themselves.

Avatar image for Humorguy_basic

people are too dumb today when it's the death of a 1,000 cuts. They only look for big explosions. So it is with not dealing with climate change so it is with PC gaming. If you go back far enough E3 was all about PC and so was the organisation. As the market moves away from PC to console, so exhibitions like this die, because console gaming is promoted in a different way. Much more through direct media contact to generate hype.

Avatar image for MJ-X

hope this will help in the development of force unleashed and doom4. sounds like ESA is a thorn in developer's butts. Bad ESA Bad.......

Avatar image for RaiKageRyu

Sigh... *facepalm

Avatar image for darkfox101

Just go back to the old way, say sorry to all the devs in a stream of tears, stop charging ridiculous prices..and success will come back

Avatar image for crunchb3rry

RIAA, MPAA, ESA...glad to see the entertainment industry triumvirate suffering a slow death. All three of them are cancers in their respective fields.

Avatar image for Jedilink109

Well heck, I wouldn't want to have to pay 4 million dollars to be a member either!

Avatar image for phrozac

i think e3 was beginning to be a real hassle for developers, who had to spend a not insignificant amount of time prepping their games for a tradeshow. i think in the future, we'll be seeing publishers hosting their own smaller scale conventions where they can be the center of attention instead of having to spend time and money on making a bigger, more abnoxious booth than the next guy. i'd rather have developers spend their time making their games better, than having to build smoke and mirror versions of their projects to show the public all in the sake of building hype, then delivering a crappy product.

Avatar image for DSgamer64

They shot themselves in the foot, dumbing down E3 and making it so that the public can't attend has killed the future of E3, which in turn means that the other gaming conventions like PAX, TGS and CES all wind up becoming more popular and they will start to generate more revenue from doing so and eventually one of those 3 shows will fully replace E3 which will fade into oblivion in no time. I think we can expect CES to be the replacement for E3 in a few years time, since it already gets loads of coverage as it is, way more then PAX at least.

Avatar image for mkreku

Slowly? There's nothing slowly about this situation! They're going down like a burning plane. Self-inflicted too so.. Just bad business decisions all round.

Avatar image for ScriptedError

The ESA had to have seen this coming when they decided to scale back E3. They had no legitimate reason to do so, and now they are paying for it. Like GunnyHath said...either they go back to how they were or they will slowly fade into extinction.

Avatar image for gunnyhath

E3 will either go back to the way it used to be or go extinct, it has no option.

Avatar image for Sins-of-Mosin

ESA did this to themselves. E3 was a huge event that made news world wide. Now E3 and ESA is a joke and its the gamers who suffer.

Avatar image for nappan

Not a surprise since E3 was gutted... I think that everyone knew this would end up in either a new huge trade show, or each company going their own way into smaller shows. It's only a matter of time that can tell us if this is for the best or if it's a detriment to the industry.

Avatar image for thepyrethatburn

@Kravius: Good post except that you forgot a couple reasons on why two companies demanded the changes. Sony was tired of independent blogs showing them with egg on their face and they wanted tighter control of the information. Microsoft, while not as badly hammered in the press as Sony was, also wanted tighter information control (plus they have their X convention where they don't have to compete with the other two consoles for attention). Both were tired of independent blogs and sites giving a far more accurate picture of what actually happened (and thus negating their PR machine) than the big sites which, having to take ad revenues into account, were more likely to play down any "Giant Crab" moments. So it wasn't just not reaching the press in a meaningful way but it was also making sure "the right message" was relayed from E3.

I agree with the fact that the ESA is the gaming industry's big lobbyist but, if this story is true, then the ESA is both mismanaging their money and using that mismanagement of money in an attempt to cover their mistakes. Under those circumstances, I'd pull my company out as well.

Can they pull out of their tailspin? Increasingly doubtful. Even if they brought back the old E3, a lot of companies have moved on. It used to be that companies like NCsoft would attend E3 for the sole reason that EVERYONE attended E3. That myth has been shattered and a lot of companies are now weighing whether they benefit from E3-level exposure. On the same note, for those who do benefit from the gaming convention exposure, there are quite a few conventions now that get the message out just as well. If I decide my company does benefit from the exposure, then, instead of just going to E3 like companies did in the past, I've got choices as to the most efficient use of my convention fees. Would E3 be as cost-effective as PAX or TGS or CES or other game conventions?

This is assuming that they could bring back the old E3. As mentioned before, some of the big guns don't want E3 back. Would Sony be willing to go back to a convention where they could not control media exposure of their worse moments? Would Microsoft really be willing to promote a console agnostic convention over their own convention? Changing E3 has lost companies. Changing it back might not attract those companies back AND they may lose others.

It is a bad thing that the ESA decided to make these changes and, if the ESA collapses, the games industry may be in for some hurting from lawmakers but it is increasingly doubtful that they can turn it around. If they don't start turning it around this year, they may pass the point of no return when it becomes impossible to do so. When Lowenstein left the ESA, a lot of Gamespotters said that he did this because he saw the ESA as a sinking ship and wanted off. At the time, I thought that was just bitterness over the proposed new direction of E3. Now it seems that statement may have been more accurate than was thought.

One last word since others have said similar sentiments: I hope ESA tells those developers no membership no show. Yeah, that's smart. The ESA is hurting for money and goodwill and you're proposing an idea that would hurt their cash flow even more (The attendance fees for E3 are separate from the membership fees.) and would permanently burn the bridges between the ESA and those companies as well as probably induce others to leave. The ESA needs those companies more than they need the ESA (in the short run, at least). Now is the time for the ESA to mend fences with their member companies as well as the companies that have left rather than slam the door shut on any reconciliation. If the ESA's top brass have any collective intellect left, they are sending their people out to try to smooth over issues with Id and the others to pave the way for them to rejoin (as well as talk with the ones that are still members to assure them of their relevance). Shutting those companies out of E3 guarantees that they'd never rejoin.
Avatar image for BZSIN

E3 is dead, long live (the old) E3.

Avatar image for raahsnavj

E3... why did you change something that was working so well? This is what happens when you 'fix' something that wasn't broken.

Avatar image for TehPickle

It's a shame E3 has gone down the drain like this. But the organisers can blame nobody but themselves.

Avatar image for lanista

Wow, let me get this straight 1. ESA was a money generating event and the public were happy (and the bottom line is that its us who buy the games and keep the business going) 2. the public are unhappy because they dont get to the show anymore 3. but devs/publishers need the public to be happy about games 4. and to do all this the ESA paid huge cancellation fees 5. then the ESA has to increase membership fees to cover 2 and 4 Umm, maybe it's me, but I just dont get how this is good for anyone?

Avatar image for TPSISO9000

The new guys at the ESA are as clueless about the real word as a Washington politician. E3 hadn't been a trade show for years, it was an Expo showing off the games and generating excitement for the industry. Frankly, for an industry that is as expensive as ours, it needs something to pump up the attention. If you want someone to buy a console, buy the accessories and buy your game you better get them fired up, and that's what E3 did. From the time games first came into the Consumer Electronics Show until the first Half-Life was shown, it was still primarily about business deals and aquiring a publisher. Now if you're not a big dog, you're going the WiiWare route; and who decides on middleware programming tools at E3 anyway? Nobody believes marketing videos (KIllzone? If your older, how about StarFox 64?), and magazine and internet reviews are pretty much bought these days (Gamestop/GameInformer and, like, gamespot...cough...Jeff...). People want real hands on time to get excited, and E3 and the word of mouth, and internet, was as close as we got.

Avatar image for krimlin077

No suprise no companies want to attend E3, The cost is too high and they took so much out of the E3 expereience these last 2 years. Most of the shwo is now "behind the doors" business stuff from the sounds of it. Lack of "gamer girls" seriously hinders my will to attend :)