Off Duty Gamers has learned that Medal of Honor: Warfighter’s troubled release may not to have been a shock to Electronic Arts who allegedly stepped in and exercised it’s own creative control and changes after ousting Danger Close Executive Producer Greg Goodrich nearly two months before the game hit shelves .
In 2010, the Medal of Honor franchise ran into trouble for its portrayal of the enemy combatants in the game being ‘Taliban’ which raised the ire of gold star mothers (mothers of troops killed in action) for having people play AS the Taliban fighters shooting at American servicemen. While the name changed before launch the damage was apparent as it was pulled from military shelves around the world.
This past June at the E3 Expo, Greg Goodrich confronted early criticisms of the games “realism” and defended the title for being “authentic”. The resulting tension filled interview set the tone for Goodrich’s dedication to defending what the title was intending to strive for and the level of loyalty he appeared to have for the Special Operations troops that were being portrayed.
The real issues started as Danger Close found itself in trouble over a partnership program that was accused of promoting military weapon and equipment manufacturers. The Partner Program was designed to promote and support the studio’s Project Honor initiative to donate to military special operations charities. From what we have learned the program started with the military consultants talking about what gear they really use and from those recommendations Goodrich reached out to the companies mentioned. Each partner was engaged for permission to use names and images as well as participate in a program in which they would get called out and agree to donate to the Project Honor charities. In August stories began to surface about the partner program’s intention and apparent promotion of weapons and items used on the battlefield, specifically at issue seemed to be a game themed tomahawk. As the story went further the program was quickly removed without any formal comment from EA or the Studio and most notably Goodrich himself.
In early September Off Duty Gamers noted that the tone of the game’s direction had taken an odd turn as Electronic Arts promoted it’s Zero Dark Thirty movie tie in with the games upcoming DLC about the Bin Laden hunt. Up until this point there was every indication that Goodrich was staying away from references to Bin Laden as an area he would not tread in respect to those who did the mission’s wishes and security considerations.
Where Greg Goodrich had previously been on record anywhere Warfighter was mentioned in the past he now oddly absent. Calls and emails to Danger Close to talk with him were met with references to “Vacation”, voice-mail or no answer. The games final days would normally see a press push for the title and it’s lead would have been everywhere but again we found very little but a hectic sense as the launch date grew near and absolutely no appearance or comment by it’s Executive Producer. While this is not unheard of when a studio is crunched for time and working to complete, this is typically the time when the PR machine cranks up and creates the title buzz.
Warfighter released on October 23rd and in a break with the publishers normal procedure review copies of the game were not sent out until the day of the release. Many outlets noted this change as a possible indication that the game was in trouble and kept the copies back to prevent early reviews from impacting initial sales. As the game reviews came in it was clear that the game wasn’t ready for release and in a drench of scathing reviews the title has suffered in sales.
In all of the post launch reviews and public relations never once have we heard from Greg Goodrich. The once proud leader of a game who felt this title would set the bar for authenticity was without comment and unavailable. A man who only months ago heard one single Gamespot reviewer and went right at the source was confusingly absent as multiple scathing reviews and turmoil swirled.
Off Duty Gamers has learned that Greg Goodrich wasn’t just unavailable for comment or on vacation but was allegedly removed from the title. Based on the timeline we can only assume that this departure happened near the end of August after the last of any Goodrich appearances at Gamescom in Germany. We have also found out that about that same time the principal military consultants and writers of the games story broke ties and left the project. The timing seems to fit as the pullout came right as the Bin Laden references started in the media frenzy during September 11th as a tell-all book released regarding the raid and attention on all things Bin Laden was at a fever pitch.
With all that has happened to an ambitious attempt to reboot the longstanding Medal of Honor series it looks as if the very thing that created the series; it’s attempt to portray historically accurate accounts for gamers; is the very thing that may prove to serve it’s demise.
As a group of gamers in the military community we are disappointed to see that an attempt to accurately portray the real work that goes on by such a proud group of people would suffer for it’s dedication to the community who put their very lives at risk for people who play these games. There are far to many titles that revel in military absurdity which while fun to play, misses the mark that Steven Spielberg set so many years ago for the Medal of Honor franchise. After what we’ve seen here, there may be a lack of desire to make anything close to “authentic” in the foreseeable future by both game studios and the consultants that might not be able or willing to help.
We attempted to contact Electronic Arts/Danger Close Studios about this article and were told through corporate PR “we do not release information about our employees”. Draw what conclusions you may from the response but it may appear that Greg Goodrich may still be listed as an “employee” officially at the EA home office.
Disclosure: Off Duty Gamers has been involved with Danger Close Studios to provide blog content about real world aspects of the games content. None of Off Duty Gamers personnel were involved in the development, creative control, story-line or day to day operations.