Facing pressure from military groups and the families of soldiers killed in action, game publisher EA has opted to remove the Taliban as a playable side in the war shooter's multiplayer modes.
In a posting on the game's website, executive producer Greg Goodrich explained that while the "majority of feedback has been overwhelmingly positive," they've also received "feedback from friends and families of fallen soldiers who have expressed concern over the inclusion of the Taliban in the multiplayer portion of our game."
Medal of Honor
With that in mind, the developers have removed the terrorist group from the game's multiplayer, instead renaming them "Opposing Force." The decision comes just a dozen days before the game hits stores.
It couldn’t be further from EA's previous stance on the situation. Despite being banned from sale on military bases and criticized by both military officials and grieving widows, EA had vigorously defended the game as one that paid homage to soldiers. Back in August, EA Games president Frank Gibeau argued that it was a matter of free speech, telling Develop his company "passionately believe games are an artform."
"I don’t know why films and books set in Afghanistan don’t get flack, yet [games] do," he continued. "Whether it’s Red Badge Of Courage or The Hurt Locker, the media of its time can be a platform for the people who wish to tell their stories. Games are becoming that platform."
Having already set pre-sell records for the franchise, Medal of Honor's single-player campaign drops players into the boots of "Tier 1" operatives fighting through various conflicts in modern day Afghanistan. The multiplayer, however, breaks from that focus by pitting two sides against one another in all-out firefights.
Goodrich insists that the name change "should not directly affect gamers, as it does not fundamentally alter the gameplay." Instead they've made the 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."