Following news that Activision and Vivendi have pulled out of this year's E3 and dropped their ESA memberships, four other developers and publishers have revealed that they will also be avoiding the conference, with some blame being aimed at the current ESA leadership.
Kotaku has reported that industry heavyweights Codemasters, NCsoft, Her Interactive and id Software have elected not to participate in the 2008 E3 Media and Business Summit. NCsoft claimed that their absence this year, the first in the company's history, resulted from the development cycle of their games and bore no reflection on the ESA itself, but "several industry sources" have said that current ESA President Michael Gallagher is partly to blame for the pullouts.
During Gallagher's tenure, the ESA cut back on lobbying initiatives while simultaneously increasing budgets, and Gallagher himself has come under fire for maintaining a low profile in what was previously a high-visibility position held by Doug Lowenstein. "Lowenstein was a very savvy industry veteran who paid attention to the goings-on in the industry and cared what the community had to say," commented noted industry analyst Michael Pachter. "The new person... whose name completely escapes me because I've never met him or heard from him, is far less knowledgeable and sophisticated about this industry than Doug was and is going to make some rookie mistakes." Gallagher took over as ESA President in May 2007.
Pachter also criticized the timing of this year's E3, saying the July date is "financially inopportune" for Activision and Vivendi due to the timing of their fiscal quarters, although Activision did say it would be holding a separate press event on the first day of E3. The full report is available here.