LucasArts exits ESA

Star Wars publisher says leaving gaming industry body but will attend this year's E3.

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Questions concerning the future of the Electronic Entertainment Expo have swirled since show organizers the Entertainment Software Association decided to dramatically downscale the gaming industry's premier event in 2006. While the ESA has continued to trudge on with E3 amid debate over the show's relevance, this month saw a potentially debilitating blow struck to the organization when soon-to-be-merged publishers Activision and Vivendi said they would not be renewing their membership with the representative body nor attending its annual event.

Now, another leading gamemaker has decided to part ways with the ESA. GameSpot has confirmed with LucasArts that the all-things-Star Wars publisher will not be renewing its membership with the ESA, though the publisher still plans to attend this year's E3 Media and Business Summit at the Los Angeles Convention Center on July 15-17.

"We can confirm that LucasArts is no longer a member of the ESA," said LucasArts public relations director Margaret Grohne. "As a company we are still committed to bringing consumers the best interactive experience possible and support the ESA's mission in the industry. LucasArts will be participating in E3."

The ESA was quick to issue a statement both acknowledging LucasArts' departure and painting a bright portrait of the organization's future.

"Since its creation in 1994, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) has grown and evolved into the pre-eminent voice of the video and computer game industry," said ESA senior vice president of communications and research Rich Taylor. "The organization has 25 members, including three companies that were welcomed last year. Today, we can confirm that one of our members, LucasArts, has decided not to renew its membership. We value each member of our association, but respect the unique factors that led to LucasArts' decision. Last year was a record year for an industry which is becoming an increasingly important part of the nation's social, cultural and economic landscape. We are confident the industry will continue to thrive and ESA will continue to create a beneficial environment for the entire entertainment software industry."

In the wake of Activision and Vivendi's departure from the ESA, several other publishers and developers, including NCsoft and Foundation 9 said they would also be skipping out on this year's event. However, a number of other gamemakers, including Electronic Arts, Bethesda Softworks, Warner Bros. Interactive, Majesco, and D3Publisher, reaffirmed their commitment to the annual trade show. After having initially confirmed its attendance to GameSpot, id Software's appearance at this year's show remains in question.

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