Electronic Arts is known for rendering a variety of licensed weapons for their warfare shooters, like its recent Medal of Honor Warfighter. It’s usually been due to a symbiotic relationship between gun manufacturers and video games. Video games get to look more authentic by featuring licensed weapons, names, and trademarks so players don’t find themselves armed with AKA-47s and Cult .45s. Gun manufacturers get lots of in-game advertising as players try out those licensed weapons during the game and determine which ones suit their play style and might potentially be the gun of choice if they ever had an opportunity to own a real one.
But after many shooting incidents like the ones in the Aurora movie theater and Newtown, the NRA was quick to blame violent video games from the likes of Electronic Arts and Activision Blizzard. NRA chief Wayne LaPierre called the video game industry “a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells, and sows, violence against its own people.”
Now distancing itself from gun makers, Electronic Arts has decided to drop their licensing deals with gun manufacturers. But before you think that the next Battlefield or Medal of Honor game will be fought with Nerf blasters–something that I’d very much want to play actually–Electronic Arts does plan to keep using real and licensed guns in their games. Electronic Arts claims that video game makers can use branded guns without getting the licenses to do so.
“We’re telling a story and we have a point of view,” said EA’s President of Labels Frank Gibeau. “A book doesn’t pay for saying the word ‘Colt,’ for example.”
This theory is being tested for helicopters as well, as Bell Helicopters argued that Electronic Art’s depiction of its helicopters in “Battlefield” is trademark infringement. Electronic Arts has decided to nip that issue in the bud by suing Bell Helicopter preemptively to settle the issue.
While the effects of Electronic Art’s attempt to have its cake, eat it, and shoot the baker to avoid paying for the rights to have the cake in the first place are still to be determined, perhaps one can take a breather to reflect upon the current state of realistic wartime shooters. Does authentic weaponry really make or break the selling point of the realistic wartime shooter, which all typically boil down to homogenized messes of convoluted terrorist plots, sitting in a corner waiting for heatlh to regenerate, and samey online death matches? What happened to the good old shooter games that featured pulse-pounding “me vs. them” shooting, and an array of weapons that featured an imaginative way to make all my enemies stop shooting at me?
Or at least let me know if anyone is making a Nerf-based warfare game. I miss days in the office like these: