Global Game Industry News Blog

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Sinking of the ESA and the Future of the ESRB...

[Cross Posted from IStC]

For those not in the know, the ESA, or Entertainment Software Association is a U.S. based lobbying and representative group with membership largely compromised of videogame companies. They have done quite a bit of research related to market demographics of gamers in the U.S. More recently they have turned to "educational" programs aimed at school children to teach them the dangers of copyright violation and piracy. Their educational programs contain no mention of "fair use," however.

The ESA is also the parent organization of the ESRB or Entertainment Software Ratings Board. The ESRB is the organization which all console manufacturers require licensees to acquire ratings through prior to distribution. Most computer game software goes through this process as well, primarily because most distributors (WalMart) will not distributed un-rated entertainment software.

Recently, numerous large organizations have begun pulling their ESA memberships. This means that they will not be paying their rather large membership dues which keep the ESA in operations.

Here is a sample of those who have officially dropped their support from the ESA:

  • LucasArts (Going to E3, but no longer ESA member)
  • Ativision/Blizzard
  • Vivendi

Other companies though not dropping out of the ESA entirely have said that they will not be attending E3, the ESA's major industry expo. These companies include those above and:

  • Id Software
  • NCSoft
  • D3Publisher
  • Her Interactive
  • Majesco
  • Bethesda

Perhaps more tellingly, Gamecock (a videogame publishing company) recently released the following video clip:

And EA, or Electronic Arts, has said that this massive set of departures shows a "lack of leadership" at the companies who are leaving, but I think that doesn't quite capture what's going on here.

What this seems to indicate is growing industry dissatisfaction with the ESA. Ultimately, I wonder what ramifications this will have on ratings, because the ESA and ESRB are closely related entities. Have these publishing companies made further decisions about the future of game ratings as well?

Casey O'Donnell

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  • If you read the article, EA is saying that Activision/Vivendi are showing a lack of leadership for leaving the ESA.

    By Blogger Darius Kazemi, at 5/19/2008 05:30:00 PM  

  • Darius... Thanks for the comment. Yeah, I made the same misreading that GamePolitics did this morning. I didn't edit the blog post until later though. It still makes me wonder if there are some rumblings for a new organization, and thus a possible new government/industry ratings board.

    By Blogger Casey, at 5/19/2008 06:35:00 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Anonymous Martina, at 8/07/2008 01:37:00 AM  

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