5 mins read

I’m a little late to cover this, but it seems that there’s a bit of an outrage about EA deciding to link over to the websites of real gun manufacturers as part of a marketing campaign for its upcoming Medal of Honor: Warfighter.

I’m baffled, and sitting halfway between amusement and despair by this outrage. I’m not sure who thought it would be a good idea to go after EA rather than the gun makers, but I’m not sure how people can be critical of a company for linking their website to another website that provides perfectly legal products for purchase.

Let’s say it again to be clear: EA has not, in any way, tied its marketing campaign into something that is illegal.

EA has made a game (a military game, no less. Those do tend to feature guns) that it is selling on the strength of its realism. It’s legally obtained the rights to use the brand name of real gun manufacturers, who are making legal products, and it decided to build a marketing campaign around an element of the game that EA believes will be appealing to a large number of consumers.

In effect, what EA has done is no different to slapping a Ferrari car on the cover of a racing game, and then linking to the Ferrari website. And yet because this is guns we’re talking about, people seem to think the rules should be different. “It feels wrong even with the understanding and acknowledgement that that there are carefully-enforced restrictions and background checks in place, or that it would be just as easy to seek out and buy these weapons without EA’s help,” Laura Parker over at Gamespot wrote.

My question to that response is simple: “since when has EA been responsible for gun control?” To make it even clearer: “these guns are legally and readily available in shops, and you’re complaining about a company writing a blog post? When we’ve had licensed guns in games for years now?”

I’m getting tired of communities and governments putting pressure on corporations to behave in an “ethical” manner that those communities and governments can’t even be bothered holding themselves up to. In an example not related to the games industry the Australian court has recently banned logos on cigarette packs. It’s still perfectly ok to buy and sell cigarettes, but if you want to promote your (legal) business? Oh no, that won’t do. People might want to do something crazy like smoke a cigarette then. A cigarette they’re legally able to purchase and smoke.

What I’m getting at here is that people need to start holding the right corporations accountable for products and services that we consider unethical. I personally don’t like guns – and so I protest the laws that allow gun companies to sell guns on the open market. I certainly don’t expect a company like EA to turn down marketing opportunities with entirely legal, legitimate businesses. If or when guns become illegal, then I’ll protest when I see EA run that kind of promotion, because it is entirely unethical to promote illegal activities.

Similarly, I hate smoking, but as long as we allow people to smoke, it is nothing short of draconian control to tell those smoking companies they’re not allowed to promote their products.

This is a free market. If you don’t like a company promoting a game with real weaponry, then go put some pressure on your government to ban the weapon. Then the promotion would stop, I guarantee it.

This is the bio under which all legacy DigitallyDownloaded.net articles are published (as in the 12,000-odd, before we moved to the new Website and platform). This is not a member of the DDNet Team. Please see the article's text for byline attribution.

  • The MOH branded tomahawk leaps over this point of view though, that was quite blatant and to be honest frighenting looking at the object.

    They wouldnt have been able to get SOME of the weapon licenses without coporation.

    Hitman devs have also 'modified' hitman in lieu of the infamous debate and they wont say what they did.

  • Are tomahawks illegal in the US?

    That's my point, really. You can't blame a corporation for selling/ marketing a product that is legal. If the Americans don't want EA selling branded weaponry, the Americans should outlaw the weapons, cutting the problem at the source.

  • I think it depends on your state. I'm not really up on the tomahawk laws, but it appears that it may not be legal to carry [in my state] on your person in public which is a class A misdemeanor. Though it's ok to own and keep it on your premises. Seems to be in the same class as other "clubs", blackjacks or nightsticks. aka: personal defense in close quarter combat.

    The debate seems a bit overblown though for a legal item. I mean if a game featured a SOG-TAC TiNi knife or multitool is it any more offensive or less legal?

    This is a bit off topic, but when you look to outlaw more items it becomes a slippery slope. How far do you go? Knives are one thing, but what about tactical pens or hand batons like the Koga SD1?

  • Continuing the off-topic discussion: I've always found the American approach to weapons and weapon law so interesting. That question you just asked is just not something that would come up here. Guns – banned, Knives – banned to people under 18. No one really seemed to care.

    It's such a deep contrast to America, despite the many other cultural similarities we share.

  • While I do not think you are exactly wrong Matt, I think you are missing one important part of the puzzle;

    Medal Of Honor is EAs attempt to rival Call Of Duty.

    After seeing how many times EA has subtly attacked Call Of Duty in favor of their own games, it is easy to see that EA wants to take down the cash monstrosity. It also seems highly predictable that EA is trying to do this by alternating between a new Medal Of Honor title and a new Battlefield title every year (MoH in 2010, BF3 in 2011, MoH:Wf in 2012, BF4 planned for 2013). However, to rival Call Of Duty, EAs games have to appeal to the same market. That market, contrary to popular belief, is NOT a market obsessed with "Realism"; rather, it is a market obsessed with polished cinematic flair and player competition. Getting so many kills in a row that a soldier magically is allowed to call in a GPS-guided missile from the sky is far from realistic. However, with the real-gun promotion, EA has implanted the juxtaposition that flashy actions in a fictional world somehow equates to real life, a juxtaposition that is VERY disturbing when applied to very lethal weapons.

    Also, EA isn't exactly a company that has been known for having tasteful and audience-pleasing business practices. Creating new $60 (US) sports titles every year, pushing digital pricing models to ridiculous levels, turning beloved game series into hollow shells of what they were, and destroying adored game studios are the practices of an attention-seeking company that wants more money despite already drowning themselves in it.

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