Guns & Games: Licensing Partnerships Pave Way For Controversial In-Game Placement
Electronic Arts, the $4 billion+ game publisher with blockbuster titles ranging from Madden to Medal of Honor, has built its business on providing the most authentic gaming experience in the business. While that's a credit to sports titles, it can present some sticky issues when it comes to action games, according to The New York Times.
For the release of Medal of Honor Warfighter, last October, the Times reports that McMillan Group, a manufacturer of sniper rifles, and Magpul, which markets accessories for assault weapons, were not only featured in the game, but also initially had links on the Medal of Honor website back to the manufacturers' websites. These links were subsequently taken down after the company deemed them inappropriate. Such partnerships, while on the one hand satisfying gamers who crave authenticity, may pull entertainment properties into the ongoing debate on gun control, amplified by details that continue to emerge from the recent school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.
While Electronic Arts did not receive payments as part of its agreement with these weapon makers, it did acknowledge in a statement that it “frequently license[s] the images of people, sports franchises, buildings, cars and military equipment.”
Videos such as this one below remain on Medal of Honor's YouTube page, noting that "Magpul products have been featured in every single image and video released" since the announcement of the game.
Predictably, the comments to the video are mixed, which is likely a reflection of evolving opinions on the hotly contested issue, but while gamers appreciate the authenticity these brands lend to action films and games, the direct financial benefit of such partnerships seems largely insignificant for billion dollar entertainment conglomerates. According to Ad Age, the gun and gun-accessory category, as a whole, spent only $9 million on measured media in 2011.