Despite what seemed to be a strong determination to ride out the controversy, EA has reversed course and will be removing the Taliban as playable characters from the upcoming Medal of Honor.
When it was announced that gamers would be able to play as the Taliban in the online mode of Medal of Honor, the reaction was about what you might expect -- i.e., it was bad. Everyone from average soldiers to the Minister of Defence for the UK weighed in. It was a controversial decision, to say the least.
If you have not been following the story, in the new Medal of Honor game, when playing online you will be assigned to one of two teams: either a U.S. Special Forces soldier, or as a member of the Taliban. To be clear, this is simply a character skin, and in terms of gameplay it would be no different than if one team was red and the other blue, but many saw the move as disrespectful, and the game faced immediate criticism. EA seemed determined to stand their ground, and claimed that "someone has to be the robbers when playing cops and robbers."
In an interview with IGN, executive producer for Medal of Honor, Greg Goodrich, has confirmed that EA has decided to remove the Taliban from the multiplayer side of the game, and the team will now be called the "Opposing Force."
"There was lots of debate back and forth about this. The fundamental game hasn't changed, it's still the same. We made this change while maintaining the integrity of the game." Goodrich told IGN. "We made the change after a long consideration."
The change will not affect the way the game plays, nor will it affect the single player campaign, which features the Taliban as the main enemies of the game. The change has been made on the coding level, so don't expect to see any downloads or patches to rename the "Opposing Force."
Goodrich also issued the following statement on October 1st:
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.
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 who has earned the right to be listened to. It is a voice that we care deeply about. 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.
While this change should not directly affect gamers, as it does not fundamentally alter the gameplay, 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.
To all that serve -- we appreciate you, we thank you, and we do not take you for granted. And to the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines currently serving overseas, stay safe and come home soon.