Atari has announced that it will not be exhibiting at this year’s E3, just three weeks before the show is set to begin.

“Atari has made the proactive decision to attend but not exhibit at this year’s E3 event,” the company said in a statement to Joystiq. “Although we feel E3 benefits the entire games business, we are very focused around other selling and marketing initiatives for our upcoming Ghostbusters, Champions Online and other to be announced titles.”

A representative added that Atari had no plans for other press events during the E3 show in Los Angeles, but would not comment further. Joystiq speculated that the company could simply be out of cash and unable to attend as a result, pointing to the recent surprise announcement that the initial release of Ghostbusters in Europe will be published by Sony as a PlayStation exclusive as evidence that Atari could simply be tapped out. Atari has said it will issue a more detailed explanation “sometime soon.”

The pullout seems to have caught event organizers by surprise; at the time of writing, Atari was still listed on the E3 website as an exhibitor. Unlike last year, however, when Activision, id, Codemasters, NCsoft and others dropped out of E3, the Atari cancellation isn’t a sign of trouble with the show itself. The Entertainment Software Association has promised that the 2009 E3 will hearken back to the spectacle of the show’s glory years and the interest level has been substantially heightened as a result. The 2009 E3 takes place June 2-4 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

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