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Activision Blizzard Say They Will Skip E3 2008

Today, a major industry player announced that it would not participate in this year’s E3 and that they have decided not to renew their membership with the video game industry trade group, the ESA, which runs the show. Activision is currently the world’s largest publisher. Having them and their soon-to-be merger partner Blizzard opt out of attending E3 is a major blow to the trade show that many are now saying is quickly becoming an irrelevant event.

It all started in 2006, when then-ESA president Doug Lowenstein announced that the show would be radically reduced in size for the following year. E3 went from a 60,000 person marvel to a 5,000 person invite-only mingling of insiders. Smaller sites like Game Freaks 365 were excluded from the show while the largest sites (namely IGN and GameSpot) had monopoly-like control over information and play time.

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Many of the attendees at last year’s show were critical of how the ESA managed the event. While E3 had for years taken place at the Los Angeles Convention Center, E3 in 2007 moved to an airport hanger in Santa Monica, California. The booths were cramped, displays were limited and many companies opted to rent out suites in hotels in the Santa Monica area to show off their products without the restrictions imposed on them by the new E3. Due to the dissatisfaction, it was announced in December 2007 that E3 2008 would return to the Los Angeles Convention Center.

In a statement, Activision explained why it would not attend E3 this year and why they decided to leave the ESA. “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. 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.”

Activision and Blizzard are not the only publishers who have decided that they will not be attending this year’s E3. NCsoft and Foundation 9 both told GameSpot that they will bypass E3 this year as well. Others purportedly still weighing their options include Atlus, Majesco and id Software. Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft and Electronic Arts all still plan on attending this year’s E3.