Electronic Arts (EA) is one of the largest developers and publishers in the video game industry, owning franchises such as Madden NFL, The Sims, and the popular Battlefield first person shooter series. The second largest video game maker in the United States by revenue, EA recently announced that it is dropping several gun manufacturers from its licensing and marketing collaborations. According to Reuters, links between EA websites and those of gun makers have already been dropped.
For added realism in high-budget productions such as the Call of Duty and Battlefield series, real-world weapons are often displayed at length in-game. Previously, this resulted in cordial relations between both video game developers and gun makers with both sides benefiting from the collaboration. Video games enjoyed a degree of authenticity, while firearm manufacturers received promotion in an industry that rivals Hollywood, and one that appealed to young men in the 18-29 age bracket. A casual glance at modern video games reveals that firearms are often represented in meticulous detail. Call of Duty and similar brands are especially prolific, offering a wide representation of firearms that could be considered a virtual armory. Legal permission to use brands such as Remington, Colt, Magpul, or Bushmaster was granted for a low price or entirely free.
Tension grew between video game developers and gun makers after the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. Following the tragedy, National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre gave an address that touched on the influence of media and entertainment on gun crime, specifically singling out video games such as the Grand Theft Auto series, Bulletstorm, and Mortal Kombat as negative influences.
EA told Reuters that the decision to drop the marketing collaboration with gun makers was not a result of politics or the NRA’s stance, but rather caused by feedback from consumers. EA’s products will continue to display branded guns and the company believes they have the right to do so. That notion is being challenged by Textron Inc., who says the game developer’s use of their products was trademark infringement. The court case is now expected to take place this summer, which could set a precedent in fair use laws in video games.
Below is a look at the firearms included with Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3: