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NCSoft Exits Entertainment Software Association

Following a summer of high-profile departures from the Entertainment Software Association, publisher NCSoft (City of Heroes, Tabula Rasa) is the latest to exit, according to new online reports. [UPDATE: Official NCSoft statement added.]
Following a summer of high-profile departures from the Entertainment Software Association, publisher NCSoft (City of Heroes, Tabula Rasa) is the latest to exit. "We can confirm that NCsoft decided not to renew its ESA membership," ESA senior VP Rich Taylor told news site GamePolitics. "We respect their decision and remain committed to serving the public affairs needs of the computer and video game industry." NCsoft joins LucasArts, Id Software, Codemasters, Crave Entertainment and the pre-merger Activision and Vivendi in declining to renew its membership with the trade body. Earlier this year, those departures prompted mass speculation on the value of the ESA to its constituency, the state of the fluctuating E3 event and the high fees publishers pay to belong to the organization. The publisher recently saw its profits sliced in half thanks largely to disappointing performance of its struggling MMO Tabula Rasa, which is now slated to close in February following the resignation of high-profile creator and erstwhile astronaut Richard Garriott. The company declined to exhibit at E3 this year, and in September, announced a business consolidation that meant considerable layoffs of 50-70 employees from its Brighton studio, just one month after some 21 NCsoft employees in Austin also lost their jobs. NCsoft's move means the ESA's membership has decreased from 28 companies to 21 -- a reduction of 25 percent -- in 2008 alone. [UPDATE: NCSoft's David Swofford sent Gamasutra the following official statement on the matter: "While we appreciate what the ESA does for our industry, we can confirm that NCsoft has elected not to keep membership with the ESA for 2009. There have been many changes in the gaming industry over the past couple of years and, like other developers and publishers, we have decided to wait to see how related industry events and organizations further develop before rejoining. We will be reviewing our membership status on an annual basis."]

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