As we edge closer to the October release of EA's Medal of Honor, the controversy surrounding the game still seems to be growing. Last week, the U.K.’s Defense Secretary Liam Fox urged retailers to ban this "thoroughly un-British game." Now the U.S. Army is taking the next step against the title by banning the game from being sold in its on-base stores. By the time you are reading this, all 49 Gamestop stores in the Army and Air Force Exchange Services (AAFES) will have transferred their pre-orders to off-base stores, and pulled down all marketing materials associated with the game. Additionally, all on-base Exchange stores will not carry the game.
In an email sent by GameStop to its employees, it was mentioned that this ban is due to the fact that players can take control of a Taliban soldier in multiplayer:
GameStop has agreed out of respect for our past and present men and women in uniform we will not carry Medal of Honor in any of our AAFES based stores. As such, GameStop agreed to have all marketing material pulled by noon today and to stop taking reservations. Customers who enter our AAFES stores and wish to reserve Medal of Honor can and should be directed to the nearest GameStop location off base. GameStop fully supports AAFES in this endeavor and is sensitive to the fact that in multiplayer mode one side will assume the role of Taliban fighter.
This ban not only affects those 49 GameStop stores located in the United States, but the entire worldwide AAFES network. According to AAFES's Commander, Maj. Gen. Bruce Casella, the military views this ban as being sensitive to their soldiers dealing with this issue in real life:
We regret any inconvenience this may cause authorized shoppers, but are optimistic that they will understand the sensitivity to the life and death scenarios this product presents as entertainment. As a military command with a retail mission, we serve a very unique customer base that has, or possibly will, witness combat in real life.
The U.S. Navy and Coast Guard have followed suit. The U.S. Marine Corps is still considering whether to join the ban.
While I can understand where the military is coming from on this, I think this is a scary precedent to set. Just because one side of the multiplayer game is specifically named the Taliban, this gets banned? But Modern Warfare 2, with its generic middle-eastern villains and crazy U.S. General bringing war to American soil, is OK to sell in these stores? This hopefully will not lead to a slippery slope of entertainment being banned because it contains some content that some may find offensive. In fact, some veterans have even spoken up about this not being a major issue.
So Ranters, what are your thoughts on this? Does this concern you at all, or it is nothing to worry about since it only affects military bases? Could all this controversy be making EA smile knowing that they are getting more free publicity than they could have imagined?
Medal of Honor is scheduled for release on October 12th for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Windows PC.