On the day Medal of Honor
's multiplayer PC beta begins, Electronic Arts reveals a surprising reversal: Despite having stood firm in the face of weeks of controversy, the company has decided to remove the ability for players to take the role of Taliban insurgents in the game's multiplayer mode.
More specifically, the word "Taliban" will be replaced with "Opposing Force", a decision executive producer Greg Goodrich said on the game's official site
was driven by "feedback from friends and families of fallen soldiers."
Goodrich noted that the move won't affect gamers, nor will it directly affect the game. The only actual alteration explicitly defined in his statement is the name of the enemy force, and there was no mention of modifications to the enemy's behavior or appearance.
He said the team sought opinion from gamers, soldiers, and friends and relatives of servicemen on the game's multiplayer portion, and that while most of it was "overwhelmingly positive", some "expressed concern" about the Taliban inclusion, and that the team wanted to ensure an expression of respect to those who have lost loved ones in the Middle East war: "This is a voice that has earned the right to be listened to," said Goodrich.
"It is a voice that we care deeply about," he continued. "Because of this, and because the heartbeat of Medal of Honor
has always resided in the reverence for American and Allied soldiers, we have decided to rename the opposing team in Medal of Honor multiplayer from Taliban to Opposing Force."
Plenty of voices have weighed in since the option came to light in the wider media. The UK's defense secretary called the title 'tasteless'
and suggested a ban, while the mother of a soldier went on Fox News to say she felt it was 'disrespectful'
to treat the portrayal of the enemy so literally. Retailer GameStop said it wouldn't sell the game on military bases
"out of respect."
Just a little over two weeks ago, EA CEO John Riccitiello said the company was "incredibly proud" of the title despite the controversy, which "kind of surprised" him given his view that someone must always take the role of enemy in play, to use the cops and robbers comparison. Citing the development team's "deep involvement... from the beginning" with the military, he said "they and we feel it's a game that any player would be proud to play."
Nonetheless, the decision to change the enemy team name stands firm: "We are making this change for the men and women serving in the military and for the families of those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice - this franchise will never willfully disrespect, intentionally or otherwise, your memory and service," said Goodrich.