Alex Bogusky talks about the marketing being baked into a product and the developers of the latest Medal of Honor episode did that. In allowing players to be Taliban militia men they ensured the games notoriety before launch. Soldiers mothers appeared on American TV news network Fox to condemn it and UK government minister Liam Fox asked UK retailers not to stock it.
The problem is that the audience for this game aren’t going to care that much about their protests. The BBC knows its the audience better, teasing with them footage from the Medal of Honor trailer to entice audiences into watching their rather pedestrian business-orientated interview with games company president Frank Gibeau.
I don’t know if its a Freudian slip but its rather unfortunate that Mr Gibeau when he is talking about about EA’s market position says ‘Sometimes it’s fun being an insurgent‘ (its towards the end of the featured video clip). It is probably not the best choice of words to use in an interview where you have just discussed allowing players to be Islamic fundamentalist terrorists.
It is like in the golden days of television when a film or programme condemned by Mary Whitehouse became ‘must-watch’ TV. We no longer have public executions at Tyburn so we get our kicks in different ways.
The most immediate challenge for Electronic Arts would be about transporting their loot to a bank, though in the longer term one has to ask how far will they go in future ‘shock and awe’ publicity endeavors and are we as a society willing to pay the price? Are they 21st-century Larry Flynt-like champions of free speech or pedlars of sick thrills?