Irish writer and poet Oscar Wilde once said that, “the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.” This statement is more popularly known today — especially in the entertainment industry — as, “there’s no such thing as bad publicity.”
Given some of the trash talk coming from DICE regarding Battlefield 3 taking on the Call of Duty franchise, it’s no wonder that EA Games head Frank Gibeau believes that video game companies should view controversy as a good thing.
In a recent interview with Industry Gamers, Gibeau highlighted his thoughts on controversy’s usefulness in promoting a game, and the bounds that need to be respected if you really want to do it successfully.
“Look, when you’re building new IPs and you’re building games and you’re looking at an entertainment audience, they see a lot of messages. Controversy isn’t a bad thing. I personally believe you should court controversy. You should do it in a way that matches the creative integrity of the game. You shouldn’t do it in a gratuitous way, but if it matches the creativity of the game… I loved it when Fox News did the lesbian aliens on Mass Effect. I love when they covered the Taliban; I loved it when they covered the Bulletstorm stuff. In each one of those cases, it was true to the game and we were trying to do something creatively. The fact that their point of view is different than ours and represented an audience out there is fine by me. I felt we could stand up and defend what we did and be aggressive about it and be proud of it.”
The gaming industry is no stranger to controversy, as over the years many titles have been put under the gun, ranging from Mortal Kombat and Doom in the early 90s to Grand Theft Auto in the early 2000s. These franchises have all benefited commercially from their time in the spotlight.
Doom remains a classic that stands as one of the first FPSs to popularize the genre. Without its groundwork, we may not have had the FPS progression that led to Duke Nukem 3D, GoldenEye, Halo, and now Call of Duty. Black Ops is now the best selling game of all time, and also generated some controversy of its own with the level that focused around assassinating Cuban leader Fidel Castro. And let’s not forget the very famous No-Russian level from Modern Warfare 2.
Love for the ultra-violent style of Mortal Kombat has ensured that the franchise has received continued support throughout the years. Its latest installment’s bone shattering visuals are making sure that almost 20 years after the release of the original arcade classic, gamers still associate the franchise with over-the-top gratuitous violence.
Fox News was recently touted by Epic Games President Mike Capps as being a contributing force in the success of EA’s newest shooter, Bulletstorm. Fox’s negative coverage of the game was so outlandish that many gaming news media outlets were quick to defend developers People Can Fly and Epic Games for their choice to produce the original IP.
Gibeau doesn’t hold any of that against Fox News. Instead, he was insistent in his little rant about the news source that he loves what they do, even if he doesn’t agree with it.
“Fox has an editorial point of view that works for a certain audience demographic that doesn’t necessarily play Bulletstorm. From that perspective, they’re trying to get eyeballs on their channels. I understand what they’re trying to do. I’m not going to respect their point of view as it concerns some of the things that we’ve done. We’re very proud of what we’ve done in each of those cases and have been very aggressive about defending ourselves.”
Do you agree with Gibeau that bad press can be just as good as good press, or do you feel that negative media attention is hindering the progress of video games as a true art form? After all, media outlets like Fox News reach masses who may not understand the context of the message because they do not actually end up playing the games in question.
Source: Industry Gamers