EA Cuts Official Ties With Gun Manufacturers

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Posted by patrickklepek (3522 posts) -

Electronic Arts will still publish video games with guns in them, but it has severed official ties to gun manufacturers, Reuters reports.

The move comes during a national conversation about the role of guns, ideas to alter gun policy, and the role of guns in our media, video games or otherwise.

According to the publisher, it will still include “branded” guns in its games where appropriate, and doing so is protected by its right to free speech. That is yet to be legally tested.

Vice President Joe Biden met with leaders in the gaming industry in the weeks after the tragic Sandy Hook school shooting, which included now departed EA CEO John Riccitiello.

EA is scheduled to release Battlefield 4 later this year. Another Medal of Honor game is not expected for some time, as the franchise was put “on hold” after Medal of Honor: Warfighter disappointed critically and commercially. It’s also partnered with Respawn Entertainment, a studio filled with ex-Call of Duty developers, for its next project, which I’m told is a sci-fi shooter.

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#1 Posted by Bapetacular (7 posts) -

Free publicity for gun manufacturers!

#2 Posted by Vigil80 (433 posts) -

Have your cake and eat it too, eh?

#3 Posted by mlarrabee (2889 posts) -

That's cool. I don't have a problem with guns, but there's no good reason for money to change hands when brands are included in media.

#4 Edited by BigD145 (180 posts) -

Cue NRA management getting its panties in a bunch and encouraging more "video games (specifically this EA title) are the cause of all violence in the world" from elected officials in their pockets.

#5 Posted by scalpel (314 posts) -

When I read the title I thought they were pulling some stupid boycott of gun manufacturers to not give them publicity. Reading the article, it sounds like EA just being EA.

#6 Edited by Doctorchimp (4071 posts) -

Ahhh man....

How am I supposed to buy authentic shooters now?

#7 Posted by Winternet (8008 posts) -

Guns.

#8 Posted by WeaponBoy (161 posts) -

This will be interesting to see. I'm not quite sure if they mean they'll be using fake names, Goldeneye style, or if they'll just say brand names without any concern. I know that companies like Barrett Rifles are crazy as hell about the image of the M82 in games, so I'll be curious as to how they react.

#9 Posted by Lyfeforce (360 posts) -

@vigil80 said:

Have your cake and eat it too, eh?

#10 Edited by Krakn3Dfx (2485 posts) -

Don't worry, you'll still be able to shoot fools with your Gloke 9mm and you'r Rimmington 870.

#11 Posted by Video_Game_King (36124 posts) -

That sci-fi project is gonna be "Call of Duty: Lasers".

#12 Posted by TheManWithNoPlan (5286 posts) -

Hypocrisy is justified if money is involved. Cough nra Cough....

#13 Posted by SternOne (34 posts) -

As a laywer, I think its an interesting question whether or not the use of the likenesses of existing, real firearms would be a fair use or a trademark violation. At first glance, this seems like a pretty straightforward situation - EA likely cannot legally use actual trademarked names and likenesses of existing firearms without acquiring licensing rights from the license holders, as in, the gun manufacturers. The logic is exactly the same as to say, a car in a racing game.

Could EA put real cars in NFS or Burnout and do whatever they want with them (including full crash damage or the like) without reaching a licensing agreement with the car manufacturer? As best I can see it, theres no good, consistent legal argument for allowing a license free depiction of one trademarked name/likeness (guns) and disallowing the other (cars).

#14 Edited by EXTomar (4530 posts) -

Driving games have gotten around it by simply not naming the cars and then claiming they aren't copying any particular design beyond gross design features.

As a side topic, if the NRA is going to use video games as a scape goat then any producer who makes video games is well justified severing any business they have with that industry.

#15 Edited by ManiacalMech (59 posts) -

"That is yet to be legally tested."

History in the making, right here.

#16 Posted by Rox360 (1049 posts) -

Interesting... Looking forward to seeing the outcome of this.

#17 Posted by Cybexx (1155 posts) -

@extomar said:

Driving games have gotten around it by simply not naming the cars and then claiming they aren't copying any particular design beyond gross design features.

I wish EA would stop licensing cars for Need for Speed and let Criterion go back to creating off-brand vehicles that they can rip up however they like without repercussions from the manufacturers.

#18 Edited by Pinmonkey (48 posts) -

It won't happen, but I wish this meant that in Battlefield 4 they just changed the gun names to the ones from the original Counter-Strike. The CV-47 and Nighthawk need a comeback.

#19 Posted by YOU_DIED (702 posts) -

Real guns have been used in video games since the 90s. This is news how?

#20 Posted by mlarrabee (2889 posts) -

@cybexx: Better yet, manufacturers should stop acting so overprotective of their products.

"Wait, Ferraris can get into accidents just like regular cars?! Unthinkable!"

#21 Edited by LTSmash (604 posts) -

Better idea:

"All future Battlefield and Medal of Honor games will feature weapon models from Dead Space, Crysis, and upcoming Star Wars games."

#22 Edited by JouselDelka (967 posts) -

@you_died said:

Real guns have been used in video games since the 90s. This is news how?

I guess every game since the 90s that used the likeness of real life guns had to have permission/license to do so (as standard procedure), and this is the first time a game company will have real guns in their game without having a license (since they cut off the ties which means no license)?

#23 Posted by hi_im_rob (198 posts) -

@bigd145 said:

Cue NRA management getting its panties in a bunch and encouraging more "video games (specifically this EA title) are the cause of all violence in the world" from elected officials in their pockets.

You just hit on the REAL reason EA won't pay the royalties. Every time a horrific firearm related incident happens the NRA (which is basically run by gun companies) blames everyone (video games, movies, music) except themselves. This is EA sticking it back to them.

If they successfully defend their case then all other game publishers will follow and they will have hit gun makers in the pocketbook.

Good on EA.

#24 Edited by Shivoa (613 posts) -

@sternone said:

As a laywer, I think its an interesting question whether or not the use of the likenesses of existing, real firearms would be a fair use or a trademark violation. At first glance, this seems like a pretty straightforward situation - EA likely cannot legally use actual trademarked names and likenesses of existing firearms without acquiring licensing rights from the license holders, as in, the gun manufacturers. The logic is exactly the same as to say, a car in a racing game.

Could EA put real cars in NFS or Burnout and do whatever they want with them (including full crash damage or the like) without reaching a licensing agreement with the car manufacturer? As best I can see it, theres no good, consistent legal argument for allowing a license free depiction of one trademarked name/likeness (guns) and disallowing the other (cars).

First thing I thought after reading the quote: Man, the NFL are going to be pissed about EA insinuating that the license isn't required for Madden. Oh, I guess they mean the Colt guns and not the Indianapolis Colts in their example. You have to wonder who okayed this move at EA, did they ask legal about it first?

That quote as it isn't in the article unless you click through for the linked piece:

"We're telling a story and we have a point of view," EA's President of Labels Frank Gibeau, who leads product development of EA's biggest franchises, said in an interview. "A book doesn't pay for saying the word 'Colt,' for example."

#25 Edited by MadExponent (305 posts) -
@shivoa said:

@sternone said:

As a laywer, I think its an interesting question whether or not the use of the likenesses of existing, real firearms would be a fair use or a trademark violation. At first glance, this seems like a pretty straightforward situation - EA likely cannot legally use actual trademarked names and likenesses of existing firearms without acquiring licensing rights from the license holders, as in, the gun manufacturers. The logic is exactly the same as to say, a car in a racing game.

Could EA put real cars in NFS or Burnout and do whatever they want with them (including full crash damage or the like) without reaching a licensing agreement with the car manufacturer? As best I can see it, theres no good, consistent legal argument for allowing a license free depiction of one trademarked name/likeness (guns) and disallowing the other (cars).

First thing I thought after reading the quote: Man, the NFL are going to be pissed about EA insinuating that the license isn't required for Madden. Oh, I guess they mean the Colt guns and not the Indianapolis Colts in their example. You have to wonder who okayed this move at EA, did they ask legal about it first?

EA did go to legal. Essentially, they are toying with IP law and seeing if they will get away with it. They will be sued...mark my words. There is a very VERY narrow exception for fair use in trademarks and that is generally if the user of the trademark is not making substantial rewards off it. There is more to it than that, but in this case, EA certainly reaps huge rewards from having Colt, H&K, Sig Sauer, etc, guns in their games.

EA won a case over right of publicity in a college football case. They were sued by a player saying that they owed him money over the use of his likeness in NCAA Football. EA said no and won that case. However, this one is very different than what they are trying now. In that case, essentially, the likeness was the player's number whereas here, EA wants the benefit without paying the benefactors. EA figures since they are big they can do it. Activision, Ubisoft, and others will be watching very closely. As an attorney who appreciates IP rights, I think EA should lose. It also seems to me that EA is playing the most hypocritical role possible as a huge IP licenser.

#26 Posted by isomeri (1226 posts) -

This will make for a really interesting legal dispute. I can finally congratulate EA for a thing.

#27 Edited by GalacticPunt (1026 posts) -

@you_died said:

Real guns have been used in video games since the 90s. This is news how?

I guess every game since the 90s that used the likeness of real life guns had to have permission/license to do so (as standard procedure), and this is the first time a game company will have real guns in their game without having a license (since they cut off the ties which means no license)?

I do think Patrick could have had a preamble for this article, explaining what kind of policy EA had in recent years, giving context for this change. He seems to assume everyone's read this Eurogamer article.

Money has been changing hands both ways. Some publishers have paid for the rights to display real models. In other cases, a gun manufacturer has paid the publisher to feature their specific gun. Product placement supposedly influences people to buy the guns they see in their modern shooters. It's something EA doesn't want to be associated with anymore, with the way public opinion is shifting. I sure don't blame them, with the NRA crazy train trying to scapegoat the gaming industry, and pretending they hadn't been in bed together for years!

#28 Posted by FourWude (2261 posts) -

Somewhere in Switzerland, Seppli is crying whilst gorging on toblerone, at the prospect of Battlefield 4 not being "as authentically real" as it could be.

#29 Posted by Fierrze (171 posts) -

If EA would stop publishing games that have guns. Whoa.

#30 Posted by fisk0 (3881 posts) -

Would military shooter enthusiasts really lose their shit if EA would go the Ridge Racer route and make realistic looking modern guns that aren't directly based off of real life models?

I can't say I would care even if something like ARMA would go that route, since as long as the guns seem to behave realistically, the authenticity in the brands used isn't what something like ARMA is about, but the tactical side of it all. Most of these shooters have made up locations anyway, wouldn't be a stretch that those made up countries have made up gun manufacturers of their own?

#31 Edited by Walreese55 (501 posts) -

@fierrze said:

If EA would stop publishing games that have guns. Whoa.

#32 Posted by JasonR86 (9611 posts) -

It was a dumb partnership to begin with.

#33 Posted by Draxyle (1798 posts) -

I'm sure the gun manufacturers are crying over their free advertising? Those guys love these realistic military shooters for good reason.

#34 Edited by Nivash (241 posts) -

If memory serves me, BF3 already skirted paying dues to gun manufacturers by simply not using logos or trademark names. How did they do that without going the AKA-47 route, you ask? Simple - use the military designations which belong to the nations that use the weapon. For instance, Colt has no legal right whatsoever to the M-16 or M4 names. They only own the AR-15. They lost all legal ownership of the M-16 and M4 when they developed them for the US Military because that's how it works - the government requires you relinquish all rights.

At least for the time being the US Military have shown no indication whatsoever of wanting to sue media companies over featuring their gear - hell, it's free recruitment ads anyway. So EA should be perfectly safe doing this. For the guns that no nation has yet to adopt AKA-47 treatment is necessary: that's how the Remington ACR was reborn as the ACW.

#35 Posted by Atwa (616 posts) -

And here I hoped for some bootleg ass guns.

#36 Edited by Robo (777 posts) -

The thing is, it's not all that different than using licensed cars in a racing simulator. They have to pay for those...they'll probably end up being forced to pay for branded guns as well.

By the way, this is like the third article I've read trying to gussy this story up and make some connection between this move and the "national conversation about the role of guns, ideas to alter gun policy, and the role of guns in our media, video games or otherwise." or something to that effect.

It has nothing to do with that, aside from the fact that they are talking about guns.

This is simply a matter of testing trademark law and how far free speech/expression can go when it comes to branding. The guns are just the branded products they're looking to use. They might as well be talking about sodas.

#37 Edited by Vigil80 (433 posts) -

@hi_im_rob said:

@bigd145 said:

Cue NRA management getting its panties in a bunch and encouraging more "video games (specifically this EA title) are the cause of all violence in the world" from elected officials in their pockets.

You just hit on the REAL reason EA won't pay the royalties. Every time a horrific firearm related incident happens the NRA (which is basically run by gun companies) blames everyone (video games, movies, music) except themselves. This is EA sticking it back to them.

If they successfully defend their case then all other game publishers will follow and they will have hit gun makers in the pocketbook.

Good on EA.

Say what you want about the NRA, but contra Rolling Stone - who should stick to covering pop music - they received less than 3% of their average annual income from gun companies in the last seven years. Hardly "basically run."

Meanwhile, you really think it's altruism on EA's part, or even activism? Corporations distance themselves from controversy in service of the bottom line. In this case, they get to try to ignore licensing fees and look good in the media doing it.

Yes, yes, an NRA spokesperson made an inflammatory comment about video games. But assuming EA's move is meant as some kind of shot across the bow of the NRA, or that they even have anything to do with it, is a heck of a stretch.

#38 Posted by joey (982 posts) -
#39 Posted by MariachiMacabre (7056 posts) -

@jasonr86 said:

It was a dumb partnership to begin with.

Yep. Gun Manufacturers and the NRA have been blaming games for violence for years now (Basically every time a mass shooting happens) so I was astounded and disappointed no major publisher just said "Fuck you, you've been in business with us for years."

#40 Posted by Kyle (2323 posts) -

Good.

#41 Edited by Krystal_Sackful (808 posts) -

Giving guns stupid fake names is annoying. For the longest time I thought the FAMAS was a "Clarion" and a Galil, an "IDF Defender". It just spreads misinformation and confusion in a time when remaining ignorant of our world's weapons is becoming less and less acceptable.

#42 Posted by Aetheldod (3518 posts) -

I really fail to see the problem with guns being named for what they are etc. ..... but what ever :/ videogames and politics shouldnt get mixed

#43 Edited by AV_Gamer (597 posts) -

This was clearly done so that kids won't look up the real models of the guns and find a way to get their hands on them. Problem is, if someone really wants to get a gun, they'll usually finds ways to get one.

#44 Edited by Doppelgamer (308 posts) -

I love having realistic looking firearms and names in games, but absolutely loathed the idea of gun manufacturers getting money from game companies and their customers. I never thought I would say this, but "Good for you EA".

#45 Edited by daedelus (91 posts) -

As violent first person shooters have become more and more popular, deaths from gun violence in the US have steadily decreased. Conclusion: first person shooters reduce gun violence.

#46 Edited by deerokus (536 posts) -

Isn't this more about EA previously having real guns which are official merchandise of their games? Seems they're stopping that, rather than not having branded guns in their games.

#47 Edited by FierceDeity (358 posts) -

@fisk0 said:

Would military shooter enthusiasts really lose their shit if EA would go the Ridge Racer route and make realistic looking modern guns that aren't directly based off of real life models?

I can't say I would care even if something like ARMA would go that route, since as long as the guns seem to behave realistically, the authenticity in the brands used isn't what something like ARMA is about, but the tactical side of it all. Most of these shooters have made up locations anyway, wouldn't be a stretch that those made up countries have made up gun manufacturers of their own?

I think ALOT of people who play ARMA seriously would care quite a bit. That's like saying that flight sim games should start just making up fake planes. One of the big draws for these types of games is authenticity.

#48 Posted by Giantstalker (1541 posts) -

Thanks, Obama.

#49 Edited by BaconGames (3317 posts) -

I'm sure it's conditionally related, the climate around guns and this, but my first though was "oh, the ROI was not enough to justify this relationship further" so they cut the deal. A smart move on their part both ways.

As far as what real gun models and names bring to the atmosphere, it can really be effective if the game involves cross cultural elements. Granted, I think the names are way less important (STALKER is just as immersive without the real names a lot of the time) but there's something that invokes a certain point in culture and history whenever I use authentic Russian/Soviet weaponry in video games. A fringe case and not the same as authenticity for its own sake but wanted to say how these things could be fruitful beyond the gun nut crowd.

#50 Edited by Kevitivity (60 posts) -

I have no problem with gun, or civil rights in general. Too bad EA has no guts.

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