Veteran publisher Konami has decided to drop the controversial Six Days in Fallujah, merely three weeks after announcing its existence.
There are few games that cause the sort of controversy firestorm that has flared up around Atomic Games' Six Days in Fallujah, and even few have garnered such controversy by simply being announced. Falleujah was triggering outrage barely a day after it was first announced - then, despite veterans of the Iraq conflict expressing support for the title, word came through the grapevine that the game might not see release over in Europe.
Now, apparently, the game might not see release anywhere at all: Konami has dropped the title, reports the Asahi Shimbun.
"After seeing the reaction to the videogame in the United States and hearing opinions sent through phone calls and e-mail, we decided several days ago not to sell it," said a Konami representative. "We had intended to convey the reality of the battles to players so that they could feel what it was like to be there."
The game was to set players as U.S. soldiers in the midst of the battle of Fallujah, a six-day siege that was one of the bloodiest and most controversial battles in the war. The player would be asked to make split-second decisions in real time like those faced by the actual soldiers - for instance, whether or not to shoot someone who appeared to be unarmed. Despite the assistance of approximately 40 U.S. soldiers who offered their diaries and experiences to Atomic Games, the title came under fire by other Iraq veterans and friends and family of soldiers who had been killed in the conflict.
I'm not going to lie; this is fairly disappointing. It's not surprising, but it is disappointing - Fallelujah remains an interesting concept for a game, despite the controversy. Plenty of gamers and games journalists have pointed out that it wouldn't be considered so controversial to have a book or movie about the conflict in Fallujah, so why is a game coming under such heavy fire? Should developers be afraid to tackle such genuinely mature material?
Well, Fallujah isn't dead yet - but I wonder if Atomic will be able to find any other publishers who will touch the game with a ten-foot pole.
Update: Peter Tamte, president of Atomic, has contacted the Escapist to give his official word on Konami's decision not to publish Six Days in Fallujah:
"We were informed on Thursday night that Konami had decided to pull out of Six Days in Fallujah. This caught us by surprise," said Mr. Tamte. "Development of the game had been progressing very well and on schedule. We would very much like the opportunity to complete the game."