E3: Going, Going, Gone?

E3, the premier video game conference, is losing more and more luster. Last week Activision (ATVI) and Vivendi, which are completing a merger, announced that they were not attending the July 15-17 conference and dropping out of the Entertainment Software Association altogether. Now, id Software, the makers of the “Doom” franchise, say that they’re considering not attending. Joystiq reports that three other publishers are absent from the convention line-up as well.

The ESA has 26 members, including heavy hitters Nintendo (NTDOY), Microsoft (MSFT), Sony (SNE), Electronic Arts (ERTS) and Take-Two (TTWO). But the loss of Activision and Vivendi, which are responsible for “Call of Duty,” “Guitar Hero,” and “World of Warcraft,” among others, is a big blow for the association and for the convention.

Why all the defections? Last year E3 changed its format so that only the industry and the press could attend — fans were not allowed inside. And some in the industry say that the new president of the ESA, Mike Gallagher, does not command the respect of his predecessor.

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