Dean Takahashi Interviews ESA Boss on Eve of E3

July 12, 2008 -

Over at VentureBeat, Dean Takahashi serves up a terrific Q&A-style interview with ESA CEO Mike Gallagher (left).

The interview comes on the eve of E3 and Takahashi fires some tough questions at Gallagher.

Highlights include:

VB: How did you choose the Texas governor, Rick Perry, for the other keynote?

 

MG: It makes complete sense Gov. Perry would be an invitee. Texas is a leading state when it comes to game development. They have an environment where they welcome the video game publishers and developers. They are reaping the economic benefit because of that... We’re delighted for the first time to bring such a high level politician to E3. It’s a sign of respect for the industry and maturity.

 

VB: The industry still has its share of political battles regarding censorship. How are those going?

 

MG: We are winning those but we are not out of the woods... There are many in the state and federal arenas that operate off a broken, flawed historical stereotype. That problem is a top priority for us. We’re trying to set a positive image for this industry and to make sure politicians understand it... 

 

VB: Would you say Jack Thompson (the crusading Florida anti-game attorney) embodies your opponents and their views?

 

MG: He is in the rear view mirror... The bright future that lies in front of us does not include Jack Thompson...

 

VB: Some companies have dropped out of the ESA. There seem to be several reasons. Some may not get along with you. Some don’t like the higher dues... 

 

MG: Who says they don’t get along with me?

 

VB: I can’t specifically answer that.

 

MG: I would press you on your sources. I haven’t heard that element come through where there is a personal disagreement with me, or, more importantly, there is a disagreement with the ESA’s mission. Every company that has left has embraced the ESA’s mission... When it comes to the ESA mission... we are making sure that the states and federal constituencies understand it...

Read the entire interview at VentureBeat.

12 comments

E3 Travel Weekend

July 12, 2008 -

I'll be flying out to Los Angeles tomorrow morning for E3, so posting will be somewhat light this weekend. I will, however, post my E3 schedule so readers can see what I'm up to at the show.

It's really impossible for a site like GP to provide the kind of wall-to-wall E3 coverage that the bigger sites can and that's not really our focus anyway.

What I will do is attempt to give readers some of the flavor of the show, especially this year's new, smaller format. E3 in L.A. has always been an extravanza. This year will be... different.

There are a few events that are right up GP's alley, like the Gov. Perry keynote and ESA boss Mike Gallagher's state-of-the-biz speech. Of course, I'll be all over those. I may also do a little live-blogging from some of the press conferences as well.

Hal Halpin and the ECA HQ crew are heading to the show as well. Should be fun!

I will also be using Twitter for some short bulletins at E3. If you want to catch these updates, set your Twitter account to follow GamePolitics 

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Variety: More Info on Why Activision Bailed from the ESA

July 10, 2008 -

Variety's Ben Fritz serves up some new info on Activision's recent departure from the ESA, although his interview with CEO Bobby Kotick raises as many questions as it answers.

While Kotick's comments to Fritz seem to indicate that Activision's departure from ESA is only temporary, actions always speak louder than words and the monolithic game publisher is apparently hiring its own exec to handle government relations. That would include things like lobbying and First Amendment issues. 

Here's what Kotick told Fritz:

I said don't view [pulling out of ESA] as anything but time off... With the combined companies [from the merger with Vivendi], the [ESA membership] dues went up enough that I said for it to make sense [to spend that money], we have to make a strategic plan. We don't have that because nobody owns it for us right now.

 

We have our own issues that are not the industry's issues. Our challenges are sufficiently different from other publishers' issues that we need our own point person. We'll have someone soon.

The Activision-specific issues reference by Kotick include Blizzard's enormous WoW subscriptions as well as substantial dealings in China. So, will Activision ever return to the ESA fold? Kotick said:

We'll consider it.

 

3 comments

E3 in Make-or-Break Year, According to TheStreet.com

July 9, 2008 -

The reaction to next week's E3 Expo in Los Angeles could dictate the show's future, according to Priya Ganapati of TheStreet.com. She quotes IGN exec Tal Blevins:

This year will be a big test to see if there will even be another E3 or who will participate next year. Companies will see how much coverage they get out of the show and how much value they are getting out of the conference...

 

E3 had much more of an impact when it was [an extravaganza]. The video game industry is about fun and entertainment, and we should have a show that reflects it.

GP: I will be reporting from E3 next week...
 

22 comments

E3 WILL Have Plenty of PC Games Says Scribe

July 7, 2008 -

Yesterday GamePolitics linked Dean Takahashi's VentureBeat piece predicting that PC games would be noticably sparse at next week's E3 in Los Angeles.

Writing for Big Download, John Callaham begs to differ:

The Games for Windows Event this week had... Civilization IV: Colonization, Call of Duty: World at War, Bionic Commando, Ghostbusters and Space Siege... E3 2008 will have those same five games plus a ton more titles. A number of publishers are scheduled to show a lot of PC only games at the show such as Electronic Arts (Crysis Warhead, Spore, Warhammer Online), THQ (Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II) Codemasters (Jumpgate Evolution) Sega (Empire: Total War) and Deep Silver (STALKER Clear Sky).

 

UK based Jagex is scheduled to show off for the first time their next generation version of their hugely popular free MMO Runescape at the show. Russian based publisher Akella will only be showing PC games at the event. As far as hardware, Big Download confirmed this week that Toshiba will be showing off a new high powered gaming laptop PC which will be officially launched at the show...

 

15 comments

PC Games M.I.A. at E3

July 6, 2008 -

PC gamers should not expect much in the way of news from next week's Electronic Entertainment Expo, according to Dean Takahashi on VentureBeat.

Microsoft's Kevin Unangst, senior global director of Windows gaming, told Takahashi:

As it has morphed, E3 has fundamentally become a console show. We didn’t want to just squeeze out some time at a console show... There have been a lot of trend pieces about how PC gaming is dying when that is absolutely not happening. It’s growing exponentially, thanks to online games, and even faster than the rest of the market.

Said Rahul Sood of HP's high-end VoodooPC game computer line:

E3 used to be the mecca of gaming. I’m skipping it because it’s not what it used to be. Now it’s just an event called E3.

 

 

41 comments

That's Gotta Hurt: Duke Nukem Forever Developer Calls E3 "Irrelevant"

June 30, 2008 -

Scott Miller, head of 3D Realms, told Next Generation that he views the upcoming E3 Expo as "irrelevant".

3D Realms, of course, owns perhaps the most vapory vaporware game property of all time, Duke Nukem Forever. Of the long-awaited DNF, Miller commented:

Development is swimming along nicely. Seriously nicely.
 

But E3 show-goers won't be seeing Duke. Miller told Next Gen:

It's just that we view E3 as irrelevant nowadays.  In fact, I wasn't even aware it was coming up.

GP: It's a safe bet that Miller is not a favorite of the video game industry establishment these days. Readers may recall that in 2007 the 3D Realms boss got into a bit of a nasty exchange with ESRB president Patricia Vance.

46 comments

BREAKING: Another ESA Departure as Crave Leaves Game Publishers Trade Group

June 23, 2008 -

Another US video game publisher has left the membership ranks of the Entertainment Software Association.

This time it's California-based Crave Entertainment (World Championship Poker featuring Howard Lederer, Pinball Hall of Fame: The Williams Collection).

While the company is still listed on the member page of the ESA website, GamePolitics has learned from a knowledgeable source that Crave is no longer a member of the organization, which represents the interests of US video game publishers. Despite leaving ESA, Crave will be exhibiting at next month's E3.

It's unclear why Crave's departure was not made public. GamePolitics has requested comment from both Crave and the ESA on the decision. 

Crave thus becomes the fifth publisher to leave the ESA this year, following earlier departures by Activision, Vivendi, LucasArts and id.

UPDATE: The ESA has confirmed Crave's departure, forwarding this statement from Rich Taylor, Senior Vice President of Communications and Research:

We can confirm that Crave has decided not to renew its membership in the ESA. We value each member of our association, but respect their decision. In conversations with Crave, representatives stated that they value their longstanding membership with the ESA and remain committed to the values and goals of the association.

UPDATE 2: Crave has confirmed with this statement from president Michael Maas:

Crave’s departure from ESA at this juncture is not a statement against the value provided by our longstanding membership, but rather was motivated by our need to focus on the impending sale of our company. We will be re-evaluating our decision, hopefully in the near future. Crave still supports the goals and aims of ESA.

UPDATE 3: Crave has been removed from the ESA member page.

22 comments

E3 Keynote Speaker Backed Controversial Pastor's Claim that non-Christians Condemned to Hell

June 3, 2008 -

When the Entertainment Software Association announced on May 19th that Texas Governor Rick Perry would deliver the keynote address at E3 2008, GamePolitics was one of the few news outlets to publicly question the ESA's decision.

We expect more raised eyebrows over Perry's selection given yesterday's reports on Wired and The Escapist that in November, 2006 Perry affirmed the comments of controversial minister John Hagee that non-Christians are condemned to Hell.

In the photo at left, Perry is seen covering his face while Hagee preaches.

Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential candidate, recently rejected Hagee's endorsement over, as CNN reported, "Hagee's comments that Adolf Hitler had been fulfilling God's will by hastening the desire of Jews to return to Israel in accordance with biblical prophecy."

As the Dallas Morning News reported on November 6, 2006:

Gov. Rick Perry, after a God and country sermon attended by dozens of political candidates Sunday, said that he agreed with the minister that non-Christians will be condemned to hell.

 

"In my faith, that's what it says, and I'm a believer of that," the governor said.

 

...Asked afterward at a political rally whether he agreed with Mr. Hagee, the governor said he didn't hear anything that he would take exception to. He said that he believes in the inerrancy of the Bible and that those who don't accept Jesus as their savior will go to hell.
GP: While there are surely many Christians among E3 attendess, there are just as surely many who aren't. Aside from the fact that Perry was a bizarre keynote choice from the get-go, his divisive comments indicate that the ESA should rescind the offer.
 
We have to ask again: why is E3 2008 being politicized? The answer, we suspect, has much to do with embattled ESA boss Michael Gallagher.
 
UPDATE: The ESA went ballistic over this story and called GP's objectivity into question, given the ECA's ownership of the site. Here's part of what the ESA had to say:
 
If the ESA posted a blog and called it a news site, journalists would rightfully balk and it wouldn't pass a smell test. Remarkably, GamePolitics doesn't face the same scrutiny even though it's funded by the ECA and tainted with anti-ESA vitriol. At the end of the day, calling GamePolitics a news site is as laughable as saying there's a Cuban free press.
 

 Ouch.

Despite the ESA's reaction, I stand by what I wrote regarding the appropriateness - or lack thereof - of having Gov. Perry deliver the E3 keynote. However, I am making one edit to the headline. While Gov. Perry agreed with Rev. Hagee's contention that non-Christians would be condemned to Hell, it does not appear to be a direct quote. That error has been fixed.

210 comments

BREAKING: id Software Leaves ESA

May 23, 2008 -

Is the Entertainment Software Association DOOMed?

It might seem that way, as yet another member company, id Software, has left the organization which represents the interests of US video game publishers. id's departure follows those of Activision, Vivendi and LucasArts in recent weeks.

GamePolitics has confirmed through a representative that id, best known for its first-person shooter franchises DOOM and Quake, is no longer a member.

The ESA did not respond to our inquiries, but might be expected to issue a late Friday afternoon press release as it did when it acknowledged LucasArts' recent exit. We also note that id no longer appears on the member section of the ESA website.

GP: At some point the continuing departure of member companies calls into question the ESA's ability to survive. The organization has gone from 28 to 24 members over the last few weeks and there are rumors of additional potential exits.

UPDATE: The ESA has confirmed id's departure. GamePolitics has received this statement from Sr. VP Rich Taylor:

We can confirm that id Software has decided not to renew its membership in the ESA.   We admire their creativity and innovation.  We also respect their decision.

 

The ESA continues to lead the thriving video and computer game industry.  We are dedicated to protecting intellectual property, preserving First Amendment rights and fostering a beneficial environment for the entire entertainment software industry.
 

 

38 comments

Texas Guv Will Give E3 Keynote Address... But Why?

May 19, 2008 -

The ESA issued a press release today announcing that Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) will give the E3 keynote address.

We can't help but ask... why?

It's unheard of for a politician to give the opening remarks for the video game industry's big dance. Reading between the lines of the ESA press release, Perry's  qualifications seem to be that: a.) Texas is home to a lot of game developers and b.) in 2007 he signed into law a bill providing financial incentives to film and video game productions.

However, as GamePolitics reported when Perry signed the legislation, the video game incentive package is fraught with potential content restrictions. The Austin American-Statesman wrote at the time:

To appease some concerned legislators, the incentive program was structured to guard against paying companies that make violent games. The state will be allowed to pick and choose projects, eliminating those that have "inappropriate content" or are "obscene." Game companies are left wondering which projects could be deemed "inappropriate."

The Daily Texan noted:

The bill requires the office to consider "general standards of decency and respect for the diverse beliefs and values of the citizens of Texas" when considering grant applications. The bill also requires submission of a final script to determine if changes occurred during production would conflict with these standards.

Moreover, in order to qualify for incentives, a project "cannot portray Texas or Texans in a negative fashion."

A number of states have enacted incentive packages in recent times, most recently Michigan and Georgia. GamePolitics is aware of no state other than Texas that makes funding in any way dependent upon content.

Beyond the content issues, it just seems, well, odd. For many years as ESA president Doug Lowenstein gave the E3 keynote. After all, E3 was the ESA's big show. Lowenstein's annual speech was something not to be missed, a kind of State of the Union address for the video game biz.

However, in 2007, his first year at the helm, freshman boss Michael Gallagher begged off, citing newness to the position. This announcement means that the E3 crowd, which has yet to hear from Gallagher, will have to wait another year to learn whether the man has a vision for the industry.

It may be worthwhile noting that Gallagher has deep Republican roots, as does Perry, the current Chairman of the Repulican Governors Association.  Perhaps the ESA (or Gallagher) views Perry as having loftier aspirations (say, the White House) when his second term expires in 2010.

UPDATE: The ESA has dropped GamePolitics a line to say that Gallagher will be giving some sort of state-of-the-industry speech at E3.

35 comments

Report: ESA Squabbling with Game Critics Awards over E3 Eligibility

May 17, 2008 -

Should Activision be eligible to win a "Best of E3" award even though they are technically not a participant in the show?

That's apparently one of the issues driving a reported flareup between the embattled ESA, which owns and operates E3, and the Game Critics Awards, an independent group which makes the annual "Best of" selections.

According to Kotaku, the issue has become "heated:"

[ESA] assumed that the departed companies' games would no longer be eligible for any of the annual "Best of E3" awards, given out by an independent group of Game Critics' Awards judges at each year's show.

However, Geoff Keighley (left),  executive producer of GameTrailers and co-chair of the Game Critics' Awards, told Kotaku that no decision has been made on eligibility. And while several publishers have said they will not participate in E3, the recently-departed Activision and Vivendi apparently will have some sort of unoffical presence outside the July expo's L.A. Convention Center venue. Said Keighley:

The fact that Activision is not a registered exhibitor for E3 has brought to light the issue of how to determine the eligibility of games... A precedent has been set that in the past, judges have voted on games that have been presented off the show floor at hotel suites and across the street from E3. It would be a shame for me if the best game of E3 didn't win the Best of Show award because it was demoed across the street from the show floor...

 

The fact we are independent awards [lets us] define our own rules for eligibility... Our organization isn't for profit. It's a volunteer organization, a consortium of journalists, so we can be pure.

Both Activision and the ESA declined to comment.

9 comments

It's Official: LucasArts Bails on ESA

May 16, 2008 -

Following Activision and Vivendi out the door, LucasArts has made its exit from the Entertainment Software Association official.

GamePolitics broke the news last week that signs pointed to LucasArts leaving the organization which represents the interests of US video game publishers.

Since that time, both LucasArts and the ESA went into silent mode - until late today (Friday afternoons being the corporate mind's preferred time for dropping bad news).

Despite giving the kiss-off to ESA, LucasArts says that it will still exhibit at E3 in July.

We should note that while working on this story no fewer than five LucasArts PR reps failed to return GP's phone calls, e-mails and IM's. The ESA also chose not to respond. Notice that nobody was denying the rumor. Obviously, there was a good reason for that.

Joystiq has the ESA's press release, which the publisher's group did not deign to send to GamePolitics. I assume that's by way of payback for reporting the rumor.

Classy.

28 comments

Gamecock Co-Founder Eyes ESA Top Job

May 11, 2008 -

With the ESA facing defections from both its membership and the upcoming E3 Expo, Gamecock CEO Mike Wilson (left) has tossed his hat into the ring as a potential replacement for embattled ESA boss Michael Gallagher.

It's all tongue-in-cheek, of course. Wilson is known for his over-the-top P.R. tactics. Game Informer reports on Wilson's remarks:
 

I read last week that some... are not happy with the current administration of the ESA, and many of them apparently feel that I am the right man to right the ship, before it sinks entirely, due to my intimate experience with, or at least near, the E3 Expos in the past.

After a long conversation with my wife, Melissa, who was the E3 funeral director in Santa Monica last year, we have decided to step forward and bear the slings and arrows of public life this election season.  Coincidentally, my campaign HQ will be housed at the lovely Hotel Figueroa this year, during the [E3] days of July 15-18...

God Bless America. We're Just Sayin.


Be sure to check out the video which accompanies the Game Informer story.

14 comments

Analyzing Activision's Defection from ESA

May 7, 2008 -

Game biz guru Keith Boesky offers his thoughts on last week's stunning news that Activision and Vivendi have pulled out of the ESA.

While the decision of Activision and several other publishers not to participate in this year's E3 got much of the attention of the gaming press, Boesky sees the ESA defections as the real issue - and we agree:
 

The ESA is this industry’s most important advocate. The organization’s impact as a lobbyist in Congress is effective, but not really tangible... We can however point directly to litigation efforts, which... beat, every legislative attempt to restrict or impair the sale of video games... If not for The ESA, video games would likely not be considered an expression of free speech...

...many are speculating about disappointment over [ESA CEO] Mike Gallagher... We can expect a less confrontational organization than the old ESA and again, it is too early to know whether it is a good thing. I don’t think Mike’s presence... drove the decision...


 

Activision... simply did not want to pay the fee. ESA membership fees are based on revenue. The soon to be largest publisher in the world will be paying more than anyone else, and it did not sound like fun. As far as the impact on lobbying... Activision... can pay a portion of the money they would otherwise pay in membership fees and target their own issues...

Moreover, we have yet to see whether this action is truly a withdrawal, and not a negotiating posture to revise the fee structure has yet to be seen. If it is a withdrawal, it could signal the end of The ESA as we know it.


Meanwhile, The Escapist offers its take:
 

[Activision's] walking away from a long-standing industry group like the ESA is not something done lightly... In light of the news that other industry majors are also dropping out of E3, it leaves the impression that the ESA is standing on some rather shaky ground...


 

An imploded ESA... leaves the industry without any form of organized political influence in Washington. With anti-videogame hysteria swirling around releases like Grand Theft Auto IV and Bully while the general public is subjected to a steady stream of misinformation... the lack of a unified voice speaking for the industry could be devastating.

 

22 comments

E3 Returns to Los Angeles in 2008

December 18, 2007 -

e3-vertical1.jpgEveryone agrees that this year's E3 in Santa Monica didn't quite work out.

So the Entertainment Software Association is moving the show back to the Los Angeles Convention Center. The announcement comes this morning by way of an ESA press release. E3 '08 will run from July 15-17.

Despite the return to the LACC, the conspicuous consumption flavor of E3 circa 1998-2006 will likely remain a thing of the past. From the press release:
 

The event will continue to focus on the business of the computer and video game industry, with an emphasis on press events and small meetings with media, development, and other key sectors. While there will be opportunities for game demonstrations, the 2008 E3 Media & Business Summit will not feature the large trade show environment of
previous years.


ESA head honcho Mike Gallagher commented:
 

We look forward to welcoming the media and top industry executives to a centralized, business focused and personalized experience. Our program of high-level meetings, networking and personal dialogue, and industry-shaping panel discussions will capture the explosive growth we have seen in 2007 and lay the foundation for the 2008 video game marketplace.

 

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Papa MidnightI could say the same about race. I certainly enjoyed being on the receiving end of this while playing StarCraft II this past week: http://i.imgur.com/mIZA1QB.png (and this is actually mild compared to what I usually see). Report players? What a joke...08/29/2014 - 12:29am
AvalongodWhether you approve of Sarkeesian's view or not, no woman deserves to be the target of that kind of harassment and it won't stop until men tell each other it's not appropriate under any circumstance.08/28/2014 - 8:44pm
AvalongodI'm guessing the twitter account was a troll, but come on, I'm sorry, it's just disgusting someone is saying those things to Sarkeesian whether serious or a joke.08/28/2014 - 8:43pm
ZippyDSMleesocial movement that is bringing most of these issue to the spot light to be nothing but trend mongering white knighting bullies who are not much better than the hateful moronic bullies on the other side.08/28/2014 - 5:20pm
ZippyDSMleereflects the world we live in while the rest is the worst stuff that should be focused on. Leaving whats reflected in the same boat as everything else that's exaggerated and skewed by media/fiction and happliy consumed by current society. I find the socia08/28/2014 - 5:20pm
ZippyDSMleemales live off the power fantasy but once you realize as a male you will never reach what fiction or media calls perfect it demoralizes you just the same. And I would not call female negative stereotypes rampant and out of control not when 70-80% of it re08/28/2014 - 5:19pm
ZippyDSMleeNot saying that there is not a difference in the treatment of males and females in media, but males are begin painted as near perfect superhumans with cliched flaws it dose as much damage to the psyche as how females are treated. Sure you could claim that08/28/2014 - 5:19pm
ZippyDSMleeNeeneko:As I said if you do not 100% belive it then you are a Neanderthal. Theres more gray to everything than black and white.08/28/2014 - 1:27pm
NeenekoMeh, the "PCism" is just trotted out when people do not know their place and dare to complain about things the speakers think are fine. How dare people complain about how they are treated/portrayed, it is not like it bother us, our feelings matter!08/28/2014 - 1:13pm
ZippyDSMleeNeeneko I do not think its against feminism but rather against PCisim’s and that most things are offensive since if you do not believe that you are a Neanderthal that beats women,ect..08/28/2014 - 12:48pm
Neenekocomplete with the standard 'she is a lying and attacking the game industry! threats are wrong but she did it to herself' comments.08/28/2014 - 11:28am
Neenekosad, but not surprising. the backlash against feminism has been growing the last few years.08/28/2014 - 11:25am
PHX Corphttp://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/08/27/feminist-video-game-critic-forced-to-leave-her-home-after-online-rape-and-death-threats/ Feminist video game critic forced to leave her home after online rape and death threats08/28/2014 - 9:43am
Uncharted NEShttp://kotaku.com/once-again-atlus-doesnt-want-you-to-spoil-the-new-pers-162782610808/28/2014 - 5:17am
Uncharted NESOnce Again, Atlus Doesn't Want You to Spoil the New Persona08/28/2014 - 5:16am
lomdrPretty much, Andrew. And hell, it helps that it is a bit reasonably priced too. $8 for 1, $12 for both at once08/28/2014 - 3:43am
Andrew EisenMP - Probably not and for good reason. That term holds a lot of deserved negative baggage.08/27/2014 - 10:02pm
Uncharted NESApprently there is still a classic mode, but...08/27/2014 - 9:34pm
MaskedPixelanteSo, there's been massive positive reception to the Mario Kart 8 DLC bundle. Somehow, I doubt it would have gotten as much positive buzz if they called it a "Season Pass".08/27/2014 - 9:34pm
Uncharted NEShttp://m.pcgamer.com/2014/08/27/quake-live-makes-newbie-friendly-changes-in-latest-update-people-get-mad/08/27/2014 - 9:19pm
 

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