With just a few days to go before the multiplayer open beta begins, Electronic Arts has decided to remove the Taliban from Medal of Honor.
The decision to include the Taliban as a playable faction in the upcoming Medal of Honor was a ballsy one, and one that EA appeared committed to despite the predictable uproar. But with the multiplayer beta client available for download beginning today, the publisher has announced a last-second change of heart: The Taliban is out.
"In the past few months, we have received feedback from all over the world regarding the multiplayer portion of Medal of Honor. We've received notes from gamers, active military, and friends and family of servicemen and women currently deployed overseas. The majority of this feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. For this, the Medal of Honor team is deeply appreciative," Executive Producer Greg Goodrich wrote in a message on the Medal of Honor blog.
"However, we have 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. This is a very important voice to the Medal of Honor team. This is a voice that has earned the right to be listened to. 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."
Goodrich said the change was being made "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."
Whether this will mollify the hurt feelings of those who were upset by the presence of the Taliban is tough to say. It's way too late to make any meaningful changes to the game, after all, and Goodrich stated outright that the gameplay will remain the same. In other words, you can still play as an AK-47-toting, suicide-bombing extremist trying to kill American forces in an ongoing, real-world conflict, you just can't have the T-word at the top of your scoreboard.
I don't mind admitting that I'm disappointed by the change. It may not have an impact on the gameplay, but it does once again prove that when push comes to shove, game publishers will ultimately break down like an ashamed child withering under the scowl of disapproving adults. If it wasn't for the fact that the replacement name is so generically awful, I'd wonder if maybe this wasn't EA's plan from the start: Get some attention by stirring up an easy controversy and then turn it into last-minute kudos by doing the right thing. After all, it wouldn't be the worst marketing plan the videogame industry has ever come up with.
Medal of Honor comes out on October 12 for the PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.