Electronic Arts is distancing itself from the gun industry, by cutting ties with gun manufacturers over licensed weaponry in its games -- although the publisher says it will continue to feature branded guns without a license.
EA has previously licensed weapons from gun manufacturers like McMillan Group International in past first-person shooter titles, including Medal of Honor: Warfighter
However, speaking to Reuters, EA president Frank Gibeau says that
his company will no longer give money to gun companies in exchange for a license to use branded weapons in its games.
Yet EA will continue to show branded weapons in its games regardless. "We're telling a story and we have a point of view," Gibeau explained. "A book doesn't pay for saying the word 'Colt,' for example."
The company says it is asserting a constitutional free speech right to use these weapon-based trademarks without permission in its upcoming shooter games.
This move follows recent comments from the National Rifle Association, blaming the video game industry for elevated acts of gun violence in the U.S. -- although EA says that this latest decision has nothing to do with the NRA comments.
The question of whether EA will get away with it is up in the air thus far. Reuters was told by legal experts that there hasn't been a single case where a gun company has sued a video game studio for using branded guns without a license.
However, there is currently a lawsuit in progress in which an aircraft maker says that EA depicted its helicopters in the Battlefield
series without permission. This particular case will go to trial in June.
Comments from an EA spokesperson to Ars Technica
clarified that EA actually has never paid gun manufacturers to license. The relationship between EA and gun makers was limited to a 2012 Medal of Honor: Warfighter
marketing campaign that had the weapons manufacturers contribute money to veterans' charities. EA won't be doing that kind of partnership again.
"Zero money from the manufacturers ever went to EA -- all money went directly to the veterans' charity," said an EA spokesperson.
We apologize for any confusion.