I am really not sure what to make of the sudden link up of the Osama Bin Laden hunt and eventual kill with Medal of Honor Warfighter. As anyone who has followed Off Duty Gamers knows we’ve been closely monitoring this title since it’s first announcement and while we aren’t privy to everything I have to say that a bin Laden link is quite a shocker at this late date and it makes me think the bean counters have asserted some authority and started a campaign to win attention with sensationalism.
It’s been clear a long time that Executive Producer Greg Goodrich never intended for the Bin Laden stuff to get in this game. He’s said it on more than a few occasions both personally and widely reported last spring.
“That’s not our story to tell,” producer Greg Goodrich told OXM US. “That’s ‘family business’ to [the Tier 1 Operatives]. … It’s been an interesting exercise learning what’s okay and what’s not okay [to portray in the game].” And who at EA is going to argue with a guy who can kill with a paperclip?
While at E3 last June, we heard much the same and the impression is that it is territory that the consulting Operators didn’t want to tread upon in this title and Goodrich was clearly opting to respect that. The question is why are we all of a sudden in the midst of a full PR blitz not only involving Medal of Honor Warfighter with a Bin Laden linked DLC (before the game has shipped no less) and then on top of it a Hollywierd Osama Bin Laden (“Zero Dark Thirty“) movie from the minds that brought you The Hurt Locker (arguably an EOD groan-inducing super-bomb guy twisted version of reality).
[Update] There’s been some chatter that Goodrich meant that it wouldn’t get into the campaign (single player) but that this DLC is a map pack for the multi-player and only hits points on the trail. I believe the statement was pointed at the time but the general character of the remark showed that this game was about a global terror threat in a general sense. I can see the point though.
There’s got to be something rotten in the state of Denmark, here and it stinks from the top down. Goodrich has been so protective of this title and so respectful of the Operators it portrays that even we as hardcore military community members have been impressed that he’s avoided pandering to the crowd for a payday vs staying true to what he feels the franchise is doing. He’s gone toe to toe with Gamespot’s Tom McShea to defend the title when most people wouldnt have bothered and clearly demonstrated his level of passion.
Since the news broke yesterday on the DLC and link up with the movie we have been unable to get any official comment from Danger Close or Goodrich on the matter and any commentary seems to simply point back to the press releases and it’s 1 million dollar PR distraction.
No, I believe there is something brewing a few levels higher than Mr. Goodrich and I think it has to do with the almighty dollar.
All of this comes close on the heels of the Project Honor partner program PR nightmare that happened recently during Gamescom. A few video game sites called out Danger Close promoting involved partners (whose products are in use on the battlefield and portrayed in the game) as sponsoring weapons and then donating money to charities that serve fallen or injured Special Operations members.
It was very quiet in the Danger Close camp as they pulled the program off the site and essentially went dark on the whole matter. No quotes or comments from an otherwise direct Goodrich. While I had my suspicions that Goodrich pulled the program to protect anything negative from spilling back on the charities or the partners the sudden resurgence of the program donation in this Bin Laden tie in seems confusing at best.
Another possible hint as to what was in the works could be the promotion a while back of Battlefield 4 beta access for those who pre-ordered Medal of Honor Warfighter. While this is not an uncommon practice many (including us) questioned why EA decided to promote the beta that is over a year out with a game that still had months to go and a lot to prove to gamers to overcome the 2010 title falloff. Speculation at the time here at Off Duty Gamers was that the EA accounting group might be worried that Medal of Honor Warfighter wouldn’t perform and was betting on a link up with it’s more successful shooter cousin Battlefield to bolster pre-orders and ultimately lift sales. I think there’s a very real possibility that the history of the Medal of Honor franchise which has always been to serve as a true history lesson for gamers just isn’t bringing in the money and they may have lost patience with it.
If I’m picking apart the motives for this sudden change in thinking then it’s only fair to point the magnifying glass at everything. While re-reading the most recent press releaseon the Zero Dark Thirty Map Pack I looked at the footnotes that we so often overlook. Specifically the proud “EA to Donate $1 Million Minimum to Charities Benefiting the Nation’s Armed Services and Their Families” and noticed the fine print of “For each Medal of Honor Warfighter Zero Dark Thirty Map Pack sold, EA will donate $1, with donations split among participating nonprofits.”
Now, the last title came in around the 5 million units sold mark and while it would seem to be reasonable to assume that a repeat would net them the 1 million DLC’s sold needed to fufill this promise it begs the question. Will Electronic Arts donate 1 million dollars to the Project Honor charity if they do not sell a million units? This remains to be seen and the press release seems to be hard to pin down on this.
The question is, will EA put 1 million dollars into the charities of those from whom EA makes so much more from their stories or will they only do it if those stories sell games?
[Update] After some discussion I will concede that the inclusion of “minimum” would seem to indicate that EA intends to write a check for $1 million to the charities even if nobody buys the DLC. I’m still a little skeptical as a jaded military veteran who has seen more than a fair share of promises to veteran organizations over the years.