Friday, May 16, 2008

ESA: The Last Person Out Please Turn Off the Lights Edition


Lucasarts left The ESA today. It looks like Activision and Vivendi's withdrawal triggered the cascading effect suffered by E3 a few years back. The first pickle out of the jar is always the hardest.

I am sure Lucas's reasons for withdrawal were sound and the decision was thoughtful, perhaps The ESA is not what it used to be post Doug, but are we throwing the baby out with the bathwater? I stand by my earlier statement regarding the need for an industry organization charged with the responsibilities espoused by The ESA. Our business does not provide adequate lobbying at State or Federal level and we suffer for it. It is easy to see the anti game legislation and piracy issues which drew the publishers together to form The ESA, but what about the other issues which could be addressed through a stronger lobby? H1b visas, tax benefits provided by competing territories and who knows what else because no one is doing it? Now we see publishers are willing to withdraw if they do not get the service they want, but what will bring them back to a unified organization?

I am not advocating staying with The ESA if it no longer serves its purpose or merits the associated cost. I am however wondering what the withdrawing publishers are doing to build the organization which will merit their membership. I like to see all publishers involved in the organization and providing check and balances. Something new should be established as a smaller ESA may be worse than no ESA at all. If more publishers leave and an ever shrinking ESA lingers beyond its welcome in a HIllary Clintonesque manner, the remaining publishers will enjoy a disproportionate voice under the guise of an industry organization - ever get one of those BSA letters from the organization which is not mostly Microsoft? As The ESA membership fees are based on revenue, and Activision, Vivendi and Lucas left, EA, Ubi and Take Two's voices got louder. Granted these companies will agree on very few things, but the more withdrawal the closer this particular organization will come to a single publisher agenda. Worse yet, two organizations will divide the focus and impact of the organization.

It is impossible for any publisher, including the ones who withdrew to argue the necessity of an industry organization. So fellas, what's next?




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