On Saturday, GamePolitics broke the news that MMO publisher NCsoft was the latest company to leave the ranks of game industry trade association the ESA.
At the time GP speculated that the move might have been financially motivated. NCsoft has, after all, experienced some setbacks in recent months.
However, NCsoft's Director of Public Relations, David Swofford, assures us that the decision to leave the ESA is not related to those issues. NCsoft released this statement concerning its ESA membership:
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.
This decision was not financially motivated, as indicated in your story. 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.
In a phone interview Swofford elaborated on NCsoft's position and pointed out that, prior to leaving, the company did not have a long history as an ESA member:
We joined [ESA] for one year and then we decided we wouldn't [renew]. We think everything the ESA does is great. Right now the timing is just not right for us to be a member of the ESA.
Swofford also told GP that trade show issues are very important for NCsoft, which exhibited at PAX this year, but not E3:
Everyone is looking to see how E3 plays out now.
So, might NCsoft rejoin the ESA fold at some point in the future?
Absolutely. We're going to assess that on a yearly basis.