ESRB Automates Ratings System Pipeline with New Technology

April 18, 2011 -

Starting today, North American video game ratings system ESRB revealed that it will start using a computer-based program to determine ratings on some games. According to a New York Times report, the ESRB has developed a computer program designed to take developer input to create a rating for their games. This will be used first with downloadable games on platforms such as Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network, and WiiWare titles.

Game developers will fill out an online questionnaire to find out what "violence, sexuality, profanity, drug use, gambling and bodily function" that might be considered questionable by players. The submissions would then be reviewed by the new ESRB software and a rating would be issued. A submitted game won't be reviewed by an actual human until after release.

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E3 Expo Revenues Tripled in 2009 Thanks to LACC Return

April 15, 2011 -

Entertainment Software Association tax documents reveal that the return of the Electronic Entertainment Expo to Los Angeles from Santa Monica managed to net the group $12 million. From 2006 to 2009, the Entertainment Software Association changed the format of its annual trade show several times before settling on its current format.

In 2007 the group attempted to downsize the show and moved it from the Los Angeles Convention Center to nearby Santa Monica. While it made the show smaller, it also raised membership due and show fees, which agitated a number of publishers. In 2008, the ESA returned the show to the LA Convention Center, but kept it small. This resulted in reduced revenues for the show that year - from $3.49 million in 2006 to $3.24 million in 2007. Membership fees that year were not enough to offset that shortfall; ESA dues raised $15.22 million in 2007, down from a high of $17.41 million the year prior.

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Pachter Backs Off PSP Go "Rip Off" Comments... We Don't

June 12, 2009 -

Wedbush-Morgan analyst Michael Pachter has publicly apologized for saying that Sony was "ripping off the consumer" by setting a $249 price point on the PSP Go. The eminently quotable Pachter made the damning comment about the new handheld last week during an E3 segment of Bonus Round.

Apparently thinking better of his words in the interim, Pachter penned an apology yesterday as he debuted a new monthly column for IndustryGamers:

I sincerely regret the choice of words... where I said that Sony is "ripping off" the consumer by pricing the PSP Go at $249.99. I made a poor choice of words, and I do NOT think that Sony is doing anything nefarious in choosing their pricing strategy.

 

The company has the right to price its products at a point that they think is competitive, and has no obligation to sell products at lower than a competitive price. They have been subsidizing purchases of the PS3 since launch, to the tune of 22 million sold at a loss of $100 or more apiece (on average), so if they are able to make a profit on the PSP Go, more power to them. They are pricing at a point that positions the PSP Go competitively with the iPod Touch, and the PSP Go arguably has much more value than the Apple product. Notwithstanding my view that the price point is too high to generate more than a few million units sold, I really think my comment was unfair, and would appreciate your allowing me to clear the air...

GP: Pachter is a straight shooter and, apology notwithstanding, I believe he was speaking from the heart when he made his original comment. It's not too much of a stretch to imagine that there were a few angry phone calls from Sony HQ to Pachter between the airing of the "rip off" remark and yesterday's mea culpa.

But the fact is, Pachter got it right. Why does the PSP Go, which does away with the UMD drive assembly, cost $80 more than the current PSP-3000? There's no good reason, and gamers knew that even before Pachter spoke out. From the moment it was announced at E3, the PSP Go's $249 price point went over like the proverbial lead balloon.

Nor do I think much of the PS3 justification floated by Pachter in his retraction. Sony is losing money on the PS3, certainly, but that's no excuse to try to make a few million back by skinning consumers with the PSP Go. Personally, I love my PS3. But if Sony overdid the hardware, over-estimated their market and totally screwed up the worldwide launch, that's on them.

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Faith-Based Bloggers Slam EA For Staging Fake Religious Protest at E3

June 11, 2009 -

At least two faith-based bloggers have raised objections to a fake religious protest staged by Electronic Arts to promote its Dante's Inferno game at E3 last week in Los Angeles.

At GamePolitics reported, about 20 actors carried signs protesting Dante's Inferno on supposed religious grounds. The signs bore messages like "EA = anti-Christ" and "My high score is in Heaven." Initial coverage by the Los Angeles Times even reported (incorrectly) that the demonstrators came from a church in Ventura County, California.

Margaret Cabaniss of InsideCatholic has taken issue with the religious theme of EA's publicity stunt:

It's been clear for a while now that the entertainment industry views Christians on the whole as priggish, thin-skinned fun-killers... Has anybody at EA actually read the Inferno?

Meanwhile, Catholic Video Gamers writes:

Gamers of all varieties will buy this product if it's, well, actually a good game. So instead of engaging in a shamelessly anti-Christian stunt to promote your poor excuse of a product, maybe you ought to work on making this game, you know, something better than a blatant God of War rip-off and make it, ya know, something worthwhile?

GP: Aside from these blog posts there are no official complaints from religious organizations on the Dante's affair... yet.

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New Peripheral Could Turn Your Wii Into a Lie Detector

June 10, 2009 -

Still haven't figured out who "borrowed" your copy of Twilight Princess?

Soon your Wii may help you narrow down the list of suspects.

Australia's Herald-Sun reports that the Wii Vitality Sensor announced by Nintendo last week at E3 measures some of the same body responses as the polygraph. In particular, the sensor attaches to a user's finger to measure pulse and skin conductance. The newspaper reports:

Skin conductance response is a measurement of fluctuations in the electrical conductivity of skin -- also known as electrodermal response and galvanic skin response.

These fluctuations in conductivity correlate with changes in emotions, such as experiencing fear, anger and desire. That's why polygraphs - generally called lie detectors - measure skin conductivity changes along with other bodily responses including pulse and blood pressure.

Nintendo hinted at potential Wii lie detecting fun at E3, the Herald-Sun notes:

Games using the Wii Vitality Sensor have not been announced yet, but Nintendo said the Vitality Sensor would "provide information to the users about the body's inner world"...

You can imagine games along "truth or dare" lines being developed for fun at home on a Nintendo Wii fitted with a Wii Vitality Sensor. The Wii could use the sensor to assess whether or not the player was telling the truth.

GP: Turning truth detection into a parlor game? I'm not sure whether that's a positive commentary on the capabilities of the new Wii peripheral or a slam on the reliability of the polygraph.

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Pachter: $249 PSP Go Rips Off Consumers... We Must Agree

June 10, 2009 -

For an industry that's supposed to be all about fun, the video game biz is tightly managed from a P.R. standpoint. Not too many people speak their mind publicly or wander too far off message.

That's why we enjoy Mike Pachter, who tracks the industry for Wedbush-Morgan. The guy may not always be right, but he always says what he thinks.

And when Pachter says the $249 PSP Go announced at E3 is "ripping off the consumer," we must agree. The analyst, who was otherwise complimentary toward Sony's E3 presentation, slammed PSP Go pricing to host Geoff Keighley on an E3 edition of Bonus Round:

$249 is too much. Period... The [current] $169 PSP-3000 is a profitable device - the disc assembly, for a UMD, costs more than 16 gigs of flash does. So this new device doesn't cost them as much to make as the PSP-3000 and they jack the price up $80...

 

I'm sorry to say it. I don't want to get bad fan mail from the Sony fanboys, but... They're ripping off the consumer until they sell a couple million and if consumers don't buy it then the price is going to come down... they're making a lot more money on the PSP Go than the PSP-3000. And the PSP Go helps them because there's no piracy...

Maybe I like Pachter because his take on the PSP Go echoes my own. Here's what I tweeted about the system during Sony's E3 press conference last week:

Kaz [Hirai] is holding up PSP Go, but sez PSP 3000 won't go away...

Kaz PSP Go $249... Too much. Sense Me feature will match ur PSP music to ur mood. Um, thank you, no...

 

[Jack] Tretton: Resident Evil Portable. Let's hope that's a working title. LBP for PSP looks sweet. Crowd not really into PSP news, tho.

Via: Joystiq

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E3 Numbers Game: ESA Serves Up Data on Game Consumers

June 10, 2009 -

Each year at E3 the Entertainment Software Association distributes Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry, a small handbook of facts and figures detailing who its customers are and what they are buying.

It's always an interesting read although we're exactly not sure how they define some terms. What constitutes a "game player," for instance? Is it someone who simply plays Windows Solitaire? At any rate, here are some of the key findings from the ESA report:

Who Plays:

  • 68% of Americans play computer or video games
  • The average game player age is 35 (again, how is this defined?)
  • 25% of game players are under 18
  • 25% of game players are over 50
  • 60% are male, 40% female
  • on average, adult gamers have been playing for 12 years
  • 42% of U.S. homes have a game console

Who Buys: 

  • Average age of most frequent purchaser is 39
  • 52% of purchasers are male, 48% female
  • 92% of time a parent is present during purchase
  • 83% of time kids receive parental permission before purchasing
  • 43% of Americans have purchased or plan to buy one or more games in 2009

Parenting:

  • 94% of parents report monitoring their kids' games "always or sometimes"
  • 77% of parents believe parental control features in consoles are useful (although the more relevant number might be how many parents are aware of such controls and use them)
  • 79% of parents impose time limits on gaming (that's a higher percentage than TV viewing, movie viewing and Internet usage)
  • 78% of parents game with kids because it's a good opportunity to socialize with their child
  • 63% of parents game in order to monitor content

Content:

  • 57% of games sold in 2008 were rated E or E10+
  • 16% were rated M (17 and older)
  • Among Top 20 best-selling console games of 2008, 6 were rated M (GTA IV 360, GTA IV PS3, CoD WaW, GoW2, CoD4 MW, Fable II)
  • Among Top 20 best-selling PC games of 2008, 5 were rated M (Age of Conan, CoD4 MW, Fallout 3, CoD WaW, Crysis)
  • 37% of Americans play on wireless devices such as mobile phones and PDAs
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Video of L.A. Mayor Welcoming E3 2009 to Town

June 9, 2009 -

We posted a story on this last Thursday, but here's exclusive video footage from GP's mobile phone which shows Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa welcoming E3 2009 to town.

To the left of Villaraigosa is ESA boss Mike Gallagher.

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Still Alive: E3

June 9, 2009 -

A year ago I pronounced E3 dead.

I was wrong.

Of course, when I wrote those words, the impressive expo staged last week was not what I had in mind. Instead, as 2008's pitiful show wound down, I checked E3 for vital signs and found none. I wasn't alone, of course. E3 2008 was awash in criticism from media and industry types. Even Mr. Sims himself, Will Wright, termed the show "the walking dead."

But this year's E3 has to be - by any measure - rated a success. While it wasn't the exercise in rampant game biz excess that we experienced in prior years, it had ample excitement and plenty of buzz. And, truth be told, sharing the L.A. Convention Center with 41,000 other attendees was a far more pleasant experience than the godawful crush caused by the crowd of 80,000 let into the last big E3 in 2006.

In any case, kudos must be paid to the ESA and its member companies for following up on their commitment to turning E3's sinking ship around. The expo, of course, is the video game industry's annual chance to strut its stuff and it deserves to be a showcase. Hell, gamers want it to be a showcase. It's no secret that gamers drool over E3, yours truly included. Personally, 2009 was my 12th trip to the big dance. I've attended E3 in Atlanta, Santa Monica, and - a bunch of times - at the LACC. Afterward, I return home feeling re-energized about games and maybe even a bit let down by the prospect of life without 50-foot high displays, pulsing lights, amped-up music and booth babes.

To let E3 and its storied history just fade away might seem unthinkable, but that's exactly the direction in which the industry was heading when it allowed bean counters to dictate policy. Thankfully, those who understand just how important E3 is to the video game community stepped in and saved the day.

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ESA Boss Talks Politics and the Video Game Biz at E3

June 5, 2009 -

During Tuesday's E3 state-of-the-industry speech ESA boss Mike Gallagher touched on a number of issues. In this post we'll take a look at his comments on politics and the video game industry:

On Barack Obama's Xbox Live campaign ads:

Then-presidential candidate Barack Obama purchased advertising space within video games during his presidential campaign... In doing so, Obama became the first presidential candidate to use video games to engage voters and court their support. Others will inevitably follow...

On state-funded financial incentives for video game developers:

You may recall that Texas Governor Rick Perry delivered our keynote address last year... A true advocate for the industry, he backed up his words over the past year. He proclaimed February 3 “Entertainment Software Day” in Texas. Then, in April, he supported [legislation] tripling the economic incentive programs in Texas for digital interactive media production...

 

A growing number of elected officials increasingly view incentives for video game companies as an essential component in any plan designed to revive a local economy... This year, 18 states have actively considered legislation to create or significantly expand existing incentive programs for digital interactive media development and production...

On restrictive video game content legislation:

Of course, there remain some in government who still seek to lay society’s ills at our doorstep. We are vigilant in defending the interests of the video game ecosystem...

 

We have seen demonstrable proof that [the Video Game Voters Network's] powerful activism can stop a bad legislative proposal from becoming an even worse law. In Utah, for example, gamers stepped up, encouraging Governor Jon Huntsman to reject a piece of flawed legislation. The governor heeded their call and, in March, vetoed the bill. This decision represented a great win for both gamers and the industry at large. For the first time, a governor vetoed legislation that would have profoundly affected video games, consumers and the industry...

GP: With all due respect to Gallagher, from here it seemed that the industry's substantial lobbying efforts in Utah had far more to do with Gov. Huntsman's veto than e-mails generated by the VGVN.

That said, Gallagher's speech was a notable improvement over the 2008 version for a couple of reasons. First, it was moved to the L.A. Convention Center's comfortable and cozy theater. Last year's speech was delivered in a cavernous - and mostly empty - meeting room. More importantly, after wrapping up this year's talk Gallagher provided a question-and-answer period, something he didn't offer his audience in 2008.

During the Q&A I took the opportunity to ask Gallagher about the U.S. Supreme Court's pending consideration of California's violent video game law. If the Court rejects California's bid, I asked, did the ESA boss think the other 49 states would take notice and stop attempting to legislate games?

No, [they] won't... 12 times we've been to federal court and had those statutes overturned, [but] they continue to do it... We'll face challenges in different states at different times. What I can you tell you is, our advocacy and the growth of our industry is beginning to turn that issue around. An example I would point to is the number of legislators who introduce these bills has stopped. They didn't do it this year. That happened in North Carolina, it happened in Massachusets, it happened in Michigan and other states. And in some of those cases, we've taken our harshest critics and turned them around to where they are sponsoring legislation to give our industry incentives to locate in their state. So I see opportunity for this industry to continue to make its case...

 

We are going to turn that issue. And we are having an impact today. But we continue to have to be very vigilant...

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Dante's Inferno Protest at E3 Was Staged by EA

June 5, 2009 -

A protest march outsde the Los Angeles Convention Center on Tuesday was staged by Electronic Arts to publicize its upcoming Dante's Inferno game, according to the Associated Press.

While there was speculation in the gaming press yesterday that the event, which was reported as actual news by the Los Angeles Times and San Jose Mercury-News was a fake, today's report is the first actual confirmation.

According to the AP, EA spokeswoman Holly Rockwood said that the publisher hired a viral marketing firm which staged the protest. About 20 actors carried signs and distributed pamphlets protesting Dante's Inferno on supposed religious grounds.

The marketing campaign also employed a faux website, WeAreSaved.org.

GP: I'm wondering if the viral marketing firm used by EA for the Dante's Inferno bit was also the group behind the recent brass knuckles campaign supporting The Godfather II...

GamePolitics was among those sites reporting on the protest as an actual event. We picked up on the story via the L.A. Times's coverage.

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Spotted at E3: L.A. Mayor Cuts Ribbon to Welcome 2009 Expo

June 5, 2009 -

On Tuesday Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa officially welcomed E3 back to the City of Angels with a presentation to ESA boss Mike Gallagher and a ceremonial ribbon cutting.

And, why not? As the Los Angeles Times reports, E3 2009 generated more than $15 million in commerce for the city.

There's no truth to the rumor, by the way, that those giant scissors are a new Wii peripheral.
 

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Spotted at E3: SEGA License Plate

June 5, 2009 -

This black Acura with California plate SEGA was spotted outside the Shrine Auditorium in L.A. on Tuesday prior to Sony's E3 press event.

I've no idea who was driving or whether it is a corporate or personal ride. I can say that there was a person behind the wheel, not a hedgehog...

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Obama Girl and a Faux Mario Bros. Protest at E3

June 4, 2009 -

Oddly enough, Obama Girl introduces this (NSFW) E3 parody protest of the Mario Bros. franchise.

GP: Thanks to LaxGamer 34 for the tip!

Via: Kotaku

 

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Dante's Inferno Ignites E3 Protest

June 3, 2009 -

A small band of demonstrators gathered outside the Los Angeles Convention Center today to protest Dante's Inferno, an upcoming video game from publisher Electronic Arts.

While attendees viewed Dante's Inferno at EA's booth in the South Hall of the LACC, a dozen or so members of a Ventura County, California church group marched on the sidewalk. The protesters carried signs with messages like "EA = anti-Christ," reports the Los Angeles Times:

Matthew Francis, one of the protesters, said he and his fellow church members were particularly upset that Dante's Inferno features a character who fights his way out of Hell and uses a cross as a weapon against demons.

 

"We think this game should never come out," he said... 

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On Eve of E3, Hindus Call For Worldwide Sony Boycott

June 1, 2009 -

Angered by Sony's failure to recall a PlayStation 2 game which they find offensive, a group of Hindu leaders have called for a worldwide boycott on Sony products. The move comes on the eve of Sony's E3 press conference here in Los Angeles on Tuesday.

As GamePolitics has reported in recent weeks, Rajan Zed (left), a Hindu leader who lives in the United States, is spearheading the protest against Hanuman: Boy Warrior. In addition to Zed, today's announcement identifies seven other Hindu leaders from Australia, India and the U.S. Zed and the others believe Hanuman is an affront to the Hindu faith and they recently threatened to call for a boycott if Sony did not pull the game from the market. Today's announcement signals that Sony has not given in to their demands.

A press release issued earlier today announced the boycott, citing what the group calls the "stiff-necked attitude of Sony officials":

Vexed by stiff-necked attitude of Sony officials, various Hindu groups have given worldwide boycott call against Sony PlayStation products...

 

Zed, who is president of Universal Society of Hinduism, in an earlier statement, said that in a video game set-up, the player controlled the destiny of Lord Hanuman while in reality the believers put the destinies of themselves in the hands of their deities...

 

Hindu leaders communicated their displeasure to Sony and tried to resolve the issue through discussions, but callous attitude of Sony officials frustrated their efforts, leaving them with no other alternative except the boycott call.

It is unclear what impact the call for a boycott might have. Hanuman is the first console game developed entirely by an Indian firm.

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L.A. Mayor To Officially Welcome E3 to Town

June 1, 2009 -

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D, at left) will extend an official welcome to E3 2009 tomorrow afternoon, according to a press release issued by the Entertainment Software Association, which operates the expo.

The 3:30 p.m. ceremony will mark the official opening day of E3 and will feature a ribbon cutting by Mayor Villarigosa, ESA boss Mike Gallagher and Mark Liberman, head of LA INC.

The event will take place outside the West Hall lobby of the Los Angeles Convention Center.

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As E3 Opens, The Motley Fool Is High on Video Game Stocks

June 1, 2009 -

At the intersection of Wall Street and E3 2009, financial website The Motley Fool has given the video game business a big wet kiss, naming it "The One Industry You Must Own."

Stock Pickers at TMF - some of whom are attending E3, by the way - like the industry's low debt, high margins and 5-year growth projections:

The average video game company is growing faster, is more profitable, has a cleaner balance sheet (only a handful of video game stocks have any debt whatsoever), and actually trades at a lower forward earnings multiple than the S&P 500...

pure gaming outfits like Activision Blizzard are just the tip of the iceberg. Component makers like NVIDIA (Nasdaq: NVDA), Logitech, and Sony (NYSE: SNE) are all hard at work developing next generation gaming platforms, graphics, and accessories...

Sales of games designed for mobile devices are going to surge...

So, which stocks, specifically, does TFM recommend? Unfortunately, they want to you to subscribe to their newsletter to find out.

Personally, I prefer the blindfolded chimp/dartboard method of picking stocks, but to each his own.

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E3 Travel Day

June 1, 2009 -

Posting will be a bit light today as I am traveling from Philly to L.A. for E3...

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E3 Being Built

May 31, 2009 -

Destructoid has smuggled some E3 setup pix out of the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Dtoid's full gallery of pix is definitely worth checking out.

Posted in
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Last Chance for E3?

May 31, 2009 -

There's one in every crowd.

While the video game press is generally enraptured by the prospect of E3 returning to its former glory, Cnet's Dan Ackerman serves up a cautionary note, saying that this year's expo "may be too little, too late."

Ackerman explains:

The 2009 version of E3 is being unofficially billed as a return to form... Of course, many of these grand plans were hatched before the current economic recession hit, and some of these game companies may be experiencing buyer's remorse over investing so heavily in an E3 show modeled on the free-spending glory days.

We're eager to see how excessive the show's booths are (previous years resembled an arms race to see who could build the biggest, most ostentatious display), and whether the game publishers will feel like they got their money's worth from their sizable investment -- which is why the show was scaled back three years ago in the first place... If not, this could very well be E3's third strike, and the end of a 15-year run.

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Swine Flu Keeps Japanese Staff of Square & Koei Away From E3

May 21, 2009 -

Two more video game publishers have pulled their Japanese employees out of the upcoming E3 Expo in Los Angeles due to concerns over swine flu.

Develop reports that Square Enix and Koei join Capcom in withholding Japanese employees from the highly-anticipated show:

Square Enix has cancelled plans for its Kingdom Hearts team to attend the show, whilst Koei has confirmed that an unspecified number of its Japanese employees will not be travelling to the event...

However, like Capcom, both publishers will be represented at E3 by U.S. and European staffers. According to Develop, neither Sony nor Nintendo plan to withhold employees due to swine flu.

AFP reported this morning that there are 281 confirmed cases in Japan, although most are mild. There have been no deaths attributed to the virus in Japan so far and Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso urged the public to be calm.

Via: gamebizblog

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Swine Flu May Impact Capcom's E3

May 19, 2009 -

Just when you thought the swine flu panic was winding down, Develop reports that the virus may impact Capcom's scheduled E3 appearance.

Japan, which has seen a recent jump in swine flu cases, has been closing schools in Hyogo and Osaka prefectures at the request of the government. The outbreak could keep Japanese employees of the Resident Evil publisher away from E3:

Capcom has told Develop that its Japanese arm remains undecided on whether it will be attending the upcoming E3 event in Los Angeles. The publisher has stated however that it will still have a presence at the event with US and UK teams attending...

A spokesperson for Capcom... stated that Japan’s tough travel regulations has impacted on Capcom Japan’s options for E3...

Capcom did however clarify that it will still have a big presence at E3... “The show is in Los Angeles and we have offices in America, so E3 is still on” the spokesperson added.

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L.A. Convention Center: Swine Flu Looking Like a Non-issue for E3

May 8, 2009 -

Bird flu, mad cow disease, and now swine flu.  It’s probably just a ruse engineered by farm animals to keep themselves off my dinner table.

Be that as it may, H1N1 Influenza A continues to make headlines and gamers want to know if it’s going to negatively affect that annual orgy of video game news that is E3.  Last week, the ESA announced that the gaming expo would proceed as planned and the LA Convention Center Administration Department has now echoed that sentiment in comments to Eurogamer:

The swine flu has not yet affected this part of Los Angeles County (Downtown LA) and we do not expect the outbreak to spread any further than it has already.  The swine flu has in fact declined over the last few days in Los Angeles County.

We hope that by the time E3 is in the building, swine flu will be a thing of the past and no longer a threat to the health of Los Angeles and the rest of the country and world.

Still, just because the ESA and LACC aren’t anticipating an issue with the swine flu doesn’t mean attendees are excused from acting like a pig:

As a precaution, guests are urged to wash their hands regularly and cover their mouths when coughing.

-Reporting from San Diego, GamePolitics correspondent Andrew Eisen...

DOCUMENT DUMP: An earlier swine flu-related statement by the LACC, issued on April 27th.

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ESA Running Charity Events at E3

May 7, 2009 -

The Entertainment Software Association will incorporate a variety of charitable efforts into next month's E3 Expo in Los Angeles.

According to an ESA press release, in addition to all of its usual gaming goodness, E3 2009 will feature:

  • Pro vs. G.I. Joe gaming competitions in support of U.S. military personnel
  • A t-shirt design contest with some proceeds going to support an L.A.-based homeless mission
  • a Red Cross blood drive

For more info, check out the official E3 site. Those wishing to donate blood should sign up online, entering E3 as the sponsor code.

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Harvest Moon Publisher Natsume Joins ESA

March 16, 2009 -

Following the recent lead of SouthPeak Interactive, game publisher Natsume has joined the ranks of the Entertainment Software Association.

Natsume, which publishes for the PSP, PS2, Wii and DS, is best known for the Harvest Moon RPG series.

Natsume CEO Hiro Maekawa commented on the decision:

It’s important to partner with an organization which not only acts as the voice for the video game industry, but also reflects the mission and goals we have established for our company. We are pleased to join the ESA and are excited to collaborate on upcoming programs and activities such as the 2009 E3 Expo.

The addition of Natsume brings the tally of ESA member companies to 22.

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ESA Hopes Bigger E3 Will Permit "Restructuring" of Inflated Membership Fees

February 26, 2009 -

Over the last year, video game publishers' lobbying group the Entertainment Software Association has lost a quarter of its members.  New financial data reported by Gamespot may shed some light on just why the defections have occurred.

Back in 2007 - at the demand of its member companies - the ESA scaled back its annual E3 show, reducing the number of attendees from more than 60,000 to around 5,000. Despite the downsized event pulling in nearly $15 million less than in 2006, the ESAʼs 2007 revenue dropped less then $1 million, thanks to hefty membership fee increases - 1700% hefty.
 
Dues collected for the year of the Santa Monica E3 (April 1, 2007 - March 31, 2008) rang up at $17.41 million; the prior year's total was $4.47 million.  The year before that, the ESAʼs total income from member fees was just over $1 million. 
 
Although NCsoft has gone on record that its decision not to renew its 2009 membership with the ESA was not financially motivated, itʼs a good bet that for some of the memcos (including financially-battered Midway), money was indeed a big factor.
 
For its part, the ESA told Gamasutra that it's revisiting its membership dues structure in addition to aiming for a bigger, better, and more profitable E3 2009.  Said ESA CEO Mike Gallagher (left):

The positive restructuring of the E3 Expo allowed us to revisit the ESAʼs dues structure.  It is our hope that this new model will make the ESA an attractive and accessible option for small and mid-sized publishers so we can more fully represent our industryʼs diversity.

-Reporting from San Diego, GamePolitics Correspondent Andrew Eisen

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Are Booth Babes Returning to E3?

February 7, 2009 -

The Entertainment Software Association banned booth babes from E3 in 2006, but they may be returning to the game industry's big dance in 2009 as the ESA seeks to restore the expo's former glory.

In an interview with Danny Pena of GamerTag Radio, ESA exec Rich Taylor alludes to - but doesn't quite confirm - that booth babes will make a comeback.

Play the one-minute clip to hear Taylor's comments.

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Activision Returns to E3

February 2, 2009 -

Activision's back!

The Entertainment Software Association has issued a press release which offers new details on E3 2009. But the biggest news is that Activision, which was not an official exhibitor at E3 2008, will be on the show floor when E3 opens in June.

While Activision will be exhibiting at E3, it has not, apparently rejoined the ESA's membership ranks.

As for ESA, the game publishers' trade group seems to be improving its P.R. efforts.  E3 2009, for instance, has a great-looking new website and the ESA has also established an official E3 presence on both Facebook and Twitter,
 

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NCsoft: ESA Departure Not Based on Finances

December 8, 2008 -

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.

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E. Zachary KnightThere is actually a Pacman tv show and it isn't bad. My kids like it.09/30/2014 - 12:53pm
NeenekoTetris.. the movie? It is sad when a joke becomes real. Next up pacman and minesweeper!09/30/2014 - 12:42pm
Andrew EisenIt remixes existing content into different scenarios, yes.09/30/2014 - 12:34pm
ZippyDSMleeIn't the adventure map just regurtiated content in diffrent sqaures?09/30/2014 - 12:24pm
MaskedPixelanteThe phasing out of the iPad 2 begins. Pokemon TCG Online REQUIRES an iPad with a retina display to run.09/30/2014 - 12:05pm
Andrew EisenIf you can't get enough of Hyrule Warriors' gameplay, yeah, it's looking like a pretty good deal.09/30/2014 - 12:03pm
E. Zachary KnightSo a Tetris movie is happening. Here is the link. Reads like a joke: http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2014/09/30/tetris-movie/09/30/2014 - 11:47am
E. Zachary KnightSo is it worth getting the Season Pass?09/30/2014 - 11:45am
Andrew EisenWow. The Hyrule Warriors DLC is more extensive than I thought. The new scenario in the first pack is a full five levels and the new Adventure Map is a whole new map, all 128 squares. Yowza!09/30/2014 - 11:08am
Andrew EisenI'm most pleased that the Quick Start Menu will now launch when the Wii U is powered on from the TV Gamepad TV Remote. I felt that was a huge oversight and I'm glad it's been corrected.09/30/2014 - 11:06am
MaskedPixelanteHey look, Nintendo figured out folders on the Wii U. I mean, yeah, they figured out folders on the 3DS several years ago, but these are BETTER! These... uhh... actually display the full folder name on the home screen instead of just the first letter...09/30/2014 - 9:19am
Technogeek(Yeah, it's not game related, but my brother is a car nerd and loves to bring this up whenever there's an excuse to laugh at CNN.)09/30/2014 - 8:48am
TechnogeekDid someone say "actual knowledge ruins the news"? http://jalopnik.com/how-much-can-cnn-get-wrong-about-f1-engines-physics-in-111142340509/30/2014 - 8:47am
NeenekoHeh. PoliSci tends to ruin the news. Kinda like how being a gamer tends to ruin mainstream game stories, any actual knowledge in a field highlights how poorly it is reported.09/30/2014 - 8:30am
MechaTama31Heh. I don't think you need a master's in politics to see that... ;)09/30/2014 - 7:32am
Matthew WilsonTrust me i read the same sites.I have a Master's in Applied Politics. I get to see through the spin both Left and Right that tend to be put on news stories.09/30/2014 - 1:02am
WymorenceI also have an extremely hard time in listening to people who froth at the mouth when the POTUS does something almost identical to the previous POTUS, but for some reason is subhuman for it this time around09/30/2014 - 12:43am
WymorenceThe problem is that opposing views are a good thing, but sites like Brietbart and their ilk are the exact opposite. 9/10 times they tweak the news to benefit their own views instead of just giving their own side of it.09/30/2014 - 12:41am
james_fudgeIf I were in a cult I might try and shut myself away from opposing views...09/29/2014 - 11:48pm
james_fudgeoh and Nate Silver and Politico too.09/29/2014 - 11:48pm
 

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