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EA Drops the Gun Licenses But Keeps the Guns

EA will no longer pay to use branded guns in games, claiming free speech. Judiciary trial to settle the issue will be held in June.
This article is over 11 years old and may contain outdated information
“We’re telling a story and we have a point of view… A book doesn’t pay for saying the word ‘Colt[.]’”
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So, according to EA’s President of Labels, Frank Gibeau.

In the continued trend of widening distance between the gun industry and the video game industry, EA has decided that it will no longer officially license specific models of guns from gun manufacturers, according to this Reuters report.

This isn’t to say that EA’s dropping the guns themselves. Any semblance of authenticity (and games like Battlefield and Call of Duty, no matter which side of the ‘casuals’ argument you happen to be on, thrive on this note of authenticity) requires that your loadout before jumping onto the battlefield includes a Remington rather than an EA-designed ‘Reddington’. This isn’t anime. Fans are not going to simply smile at your sleek white Pineapple device and move on.

The theory goes like this.

EA claims that it has a constitutional right to free speech in using the various weapon trademarks and that it can do that even without a license.

Whether this holds true or not will be decided in court in June. The company has already started testing the legal waters by ending a licensing agreement with Textron over its helicopters. Bell Helicopter, a unit of Textron Inc., claims that EA’s depiction of them in Battlefield were beyond fair use and amounted to trademark infringement. EA used the same theory to seek declatory judgement—that using Textron helicopters is not infringement, but protected the the 1st amendment—and went to court, suing Bell Helicopter.

If they lose the suit, EA will then be forced to either lose the real guns, or pay the licensing fees again.

EA is also flying solo for this one. Activision, the industry leader, which also uses branded guns in its Call of Duty line, declined to comment on whether it licenses gun designs or if it would stop doing so. Which isn’t to say that it won’t take advantage of saving money if EA were to win.

Well, for once, I agree with EA (though perhaps not for the reasons why). There are times and places where brands should be licensed, but one should not have to get permission, nor pay, for the privilege of making the real world look like the real world.

What do you think?


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Author
Image of Stephanie Tang
Stephanie Tang
Avid PC gamer, long-time console lover. I enjoy shooting things in the face and am dangerously addicted to pretty. I'm also a cat.