EA still defending Taliban controversy as MOH launches

Heavily-promoted COD rival drawing 8/10 review scores so far

EA studio Danger Close has defended its decision to rename a playable multiplayer faction in Medal of Honor from Taliban to Opposing Force.

"We didn't change any pixels in the game at all except for the name," marketing director Craig Owens told Joystiq, "and it only appeared a couple times in multiplayer."

However, he blamed the controversy surrounding the original name on a lack of awareness among non-gamers.

"The objection was, kind of from an older generation that doesn't understand games, that the soundbyte was 'Play as the Taliban and kill US soldiers.'

"Later that soundbyte kind of caught wind and got taken out of context, really."

He claimed that it was " just a misunderstanding... It's just one of those transition points, where people who don't play games still think they're just for 12-year-olds and they're just all fun and games and they could never really tell a story like a movie does."

Owens went on to reiterate EA's claim that the game was highly respectful towards US troops.

The Afghanistan-set shooter launches today in the US, with the first concerted wave of reviews due to arrive this afternoon.

A handful of scores have been released already, with the game so far drawing an average of around 8/10 from the likes of CVG, IncGamers and PlanetXbox360.

EA has claimed that it is the most pre-ordered Medal of Honor title ever, although pre-order culture appears to have experienced phenomenal growth in recent years.

Pre-sales of the PC version have, however, been significant enough to see it reach number four in Steam's current best-sellers chart, behind various versions of Left 4 Dead and Civilization V.

Latest comments (6)

gi biz ;, 9 years ago
Although I share Mr Owens' opinion, I still find it undelicate to publish an FPS (as well as a war movie) about sensitive things that just happened or are still happening. I would think the same of all those WW2 games if we were living in the '40s.
Anyways, I don't know what the game's story is, so if said factions are just there because the game models reality, then I'm completely with him. It's a bit hard to describe... it'd be like the difference between a '94 Formula 1 game where Ayrton Senna figures in the championship, or a game just about his death - I hope I'm giving the idea.
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Lee Camm Web Magazine Editor/Writer 9 years ago
@ Michele

I am inclined to disagree slightly. During WW2, making movies, radio shows, and comics about the war was more common than anything. They were used of propaganda, and moral inspiration.
In relation to the modern conflicts, we are detached from the events, only hearing about it in news, instead of experience the effects everyday. I don't believe this is insensitive at all, but in fact, I see this as modern day propaganda. We playing the heroes, the Americans, against the Villians, the Taliban, just like, for example, the the Allies and the Germans in The Heart of Britain (1941)
And as a final comment, the games market, is becoming a more predominately adult market, not just with 'adult content' but with more meaningful, moral, and mature themes. they are becoming more like interactive stories, than mere entertainment now. And like a mature themed film, they will receive criticism and boycotting by people who have little to no understanding of the themes represented within them.
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Aleksi Ranta Category Management Project Manager 9 years ago
And still the free publicity for EA continues. Another 10K units sold. :)
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Alex Loffstadt Community Manager, Outso Ltd9 years ago
The 40s are packed with books and movies from both sides pushing their agenda, Riefenstahls Movies of Nazi rallies and the British "The Day Went Well" being some of the most well known examples.

IMO, one of the best ways to battle the kneejerk reactions we typically see from certain sections of the press is not to pander to them.

While the industry is growing, maturing and producing content which is aimed at mature audiences, and this is all good, (If we look at graphic novels the quality of the work there and has been proven time and again), there is a slightly worrying trend.

Controversy is a well known marketing tool. Press, good or bad, breeds column inches, causes a fuss, grabs peoples' attention and some people will by a game just to see what's in the box. The BBFC controversy over Manhunt doubtless boosted sales on a title that received medicore reviews. Being controversial is one way for an industry that has issues being taken seriously has of breaking into the mainstream press.

Being a little cynical for a moment, this issue cropped up months ago and we've consistently seen some article or other about the controversy on an almost monthly basis, each time with EA protesting that they didn't intend to offend anyone etc.

Here's a possible theory.

MoH had a mountain to claim against CoD. The battle between EA + ActiBlizz, the mark that MW2 had left automatically means that the MoH shift to modern day would lead to accusations of being derivative.
MoH needed something to set it apart and grab the attention.

I'm not saying this was the case but months of free advertising can't have hurt pre-sales.
IMO it's a false economy. Gritty violence, controversial press and tags such as adult/mature will grab the attention of the classic gamer demographic of 15-35 year old males, but do little for the rest.

There is a great deal going on in gaming, as technology becomes more accessible, as more and more people us videogames as a way to relax, have fun and socialise. Most of this truly groundbreaking work has little if anything to do with the FPS scene.
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Lewis Brown Snr Sourcer/Recruiter, Electronic Arts9 years ago
EA will be loving the press, I dont believe those who would potentially purchase the game will be affected by the supposed negative media, instead giving the game more attention than it may have got especially with Black Opps coming shortly...

I think people forget the generation between 25-35 are now people who grew up with the likes of Doom, Quake etc.. when they were teenagers so the market is far bigger than it was 10 years ago when those games simply didnt exist.

I didnt get a chance to play it at the eurogamer so expo so will have to wait and see what I think...

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Alex Loffstadt Community Manager, Outso Ltd9 years ago
@Lewis I don't think it's an issue of forgotten them at all. It's more an issue that mainstream press, many investors, not to mention a great many games marketing and pr people seem unable to see potential customers in terms of anything but that demographic.

Online gaming, MMOs, casual gaming, mobiles and platforms such as the Wii and DS have dramatically opened up the market for games.
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