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EA: Activision, Vivendi ESA exit shows "lack of leadership"

Brown accuses rivals of "stepping away from responsibility" but calls for ESA to prove membership benefits to the industry

As LucasArts last week became the latest publisher to quit the Entertainment Software Association, EA has criticised Activision and Vivendi's departure from the US trade body and withdrawal from this year's E3.

Speaking exclusively to during a recent event at EA Canada, Jeff Brown, the publisher's VP or corporate communications, said: "I think having [Activision and Vivendi] pull out of the ESA reflects an unfortunate lack of leadership.

"They're a big company and we feel that when you're a big company you've got a responsibility to consumers to work on policy issues which are very, very important to consumers. And the best way to do that is with an industry consensus. That's the way it's been done with the ESA in the US, and with ELSPA in the UK."

Brown added that EA was not reconsidering its position, but urged the ESA to make a strong case to remaining members for their ongoing participation.

"There's always tensions inside these organisations, but for the most part it works," he insisted. "So it was sad to see them step away from that responsibility. We hope that others don't do that, but I think that the onus is on the ESA to prove that membership in it is good for the company and good for consumers. And I think we're going to see the ESA redouble its efforts to prove that."

Activision and Vivendi Games are currently in the process of merging to form a single entity, Activision Blizzard, which is set to become the largest games publisher by revenue in the industry, overtaking Electronic Arts.

The companies withdrew from the ESA earlier this month, an Activision representative at the time stating: "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."

LucasArts revealed last Friday that it had also resigned its membership, but pledged to participate in E3 2008, organised by the ESA.

Brown, who reaffirmed EA's support for the ESA and its trade show, further dismissed suggestions that Activision and Vivendi's decision would materially affect the Los Angeles showcase.

"EA is 100 per cent committed. There's Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, THQ, Disney, a bunch of others – and I assume all the others are still locked into it," he said.

"For that matter, Activision Vivendi is going to be doing an event of some description in Los Angeles at the same time, so there's still critical mass. Everyone's going to be in Los Angeles this summer and it's hard to imagine it isn't going to be a successful event."

The ESA, headed by Michael D. Gallagher, has 25 remaining members. E3 2008 will run from July 15-17 at the Los Angeles Convention Centre.