EA’s Medal of Honor Warfighter is coming out in October. To help promote the game, EA’s marketing people wanted to come up with something more unique and original than the usual YouTube/TV commercial/game magazine advertisement campaign. “What’s related to our game that we could sell?” one marketing person said to another. The light bulbs go off above their heads at the same time as they turn to the camera: “GUNS!”
That’s right, EA decided to partner with a handful of real, actual weapon manufacturers to make authentic Medal of Honor branded merchandise. You like shootin’ them brown people in authentic, real-world locations, Mr. ‘Murrica? Well how about you buy that same gun you love to use in the game to shoot stuff in real life! They’re also selling clothing, and various other weapon accessories like scopes, clips, and the like. Oh, and don’t forget the sweet tomahawk pictured above. For charity!
The response hasn’t been great. This guy wrote about how real-world guns will break down the already-too-cracked wall separating fake video game guns from real world violence, citing his 13-year-old nephew that was kicked out of school for bringing a BB gun there as an example. Then Eurogamer heard about it. Their response was so great that it actually convinced EA to drop the officially branded tomahawk from their list of partners. Goodrich sounded pretty sad about it though:
“That was an effort to raise a lot of money for charity, and we were well on our way to raising a lot of money with that tomahawk, but I don’t know what will happen with that now. That whole effort, we’ve been working with those partners because we wanted to be authentic, and we wanted to give back to the communities. Every one of those partners, none of them paid a dime for product placement – all the money generated went to Project Honor.”
The interesting thing to me is that, and maybe this is just because this story was on a video game blog, no one at Eurogamer suggested that kids would get their hands on these weapons, or even that anyone would commit illegal acts with the weapons. If you buy a gun through one of EA’s partners, it is shipped to a local, federally licensed gun dealer, where they perform all those checks that keep bad people from getting guns legally. I’m not sure on the laws with regards to ordering tomahawks, but if they’re anything like swords, it’s not that easy to get one of those shipped to you, either. (Don’t ask me how I know that.)
So what is that actual issue here? Is it just the fact that having your game name branded on a tomahawk is a really weird idea? It might have worked with Red Dead Redemption‘s DLC… Is this just a bad idea because we’re *just now* at the point where people don’t automatically assume a theater shooter is addicted to video games, and finding a dead kid with a Medal of Honor branded tomahawk sticking out of his torso would be reaaaaally bad for games’ perception in the media right now?
The way I see it: EA finally wants to get some good PR, so they have a charity campaign. They make a really odd marketing decision (just because there are guns in your game doesn’t mean anyone needs one in reality – that’s why we have games), and it backfires. Everyone still hates EA. The bright side: they’re finally trying to stop being universally hated and give back to the community a little bit, maybe bring them back into the good graces of gamers like when they first launched EA Partners. Maybe next time they try to give back… they won’t try to sell us guns.
Check out the tomahawk page now:
They dropped the “Medal of Honor” from the weapon description, and removed the Limited Edition version… but it’s still called the “Medal of Honor Voodoo Hawk” in the pre-order section at the bottom. I wonder if I could still get it engraved…? Just kidding, what the crap would I or anyone else in the world do with a tomahawk? I guess I could always learn to juggle.
… You know what, this is kind of a dumb promotion after all. Just donate all your DLC earnings to Project Honor, EA! The bottom line is that anyone that wants one of these guns or a tomahawk in the real world can get one legally (or, I suppose, illegally), and they don’t need a video game to tell them they need an assault rifle. You know, for deer hunting.