Electronic Arts takes pride in the realism of the Medal of Honor series. It appears, though, that the publisher might have made things a bit too real this time.
In response to negative feedback from press and consumers, EA has quit promoting sales of several real-world weapons that carried Medal of Honor branding and has removed a series of blog posts touting the products, which included a tomahawk and sniper rifle.
"The Voodoo Tomahawk has since been removed from our website because of the article ," executive producer Greg Goodrich told Eurogamer. "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," he continued. "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."
Still, some viewed the move as being in poor taste, given concerns by some parties about the impact of video games on real-world violence. A piece written by Gameological openly questioned the morality of letting gamers buy real versions of the military-grade weapons they use in the game.
Goodrich, however, doesn't really see the fuss.
"We're making a first person shooter and it fits," Goodrich said in defense of the products. "If we were doing Need for Speed we'd do something different. If I was doing FIFA it'd be something different. But we're making a first person shooter about the war fighter. If we partnered with another brand it wouldn't make sense and it wouldn't be authentic."
EA notes that it was not making any money from the sale of the weapons. It planned to donate its proceeds to Project Honor, an EA program connected to the Navy Seal Foundation and the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, which provide support to fallen and wounded members of the military and their families.
Both companies -- and several others — remain partners with EA and will see their weapons and other products featured in Medal of Honor: Warfighter when it hits shelves this October.
The first reboot of the long-running action series didn't exactly set the sales charts on fire back in 2010, but EA's hoping for a bigger reaction to this year's game, which will use the same graphics engine that powered last year's more successful Battlefield 3.
While the game may not have a fan base as fervent as the Call of Duty series these days, Medal of Honor cleared the path for other World War II shooter games. The 1999 original, with a story created by legendary director Steven Spielberg, set new standards of realism in video games and was an overwhelming success. As the years passed, though, a series of less impressive sequels and similar games from other publishers led to consumer fatigue and dwindling sales.