Electronic Arts has announced that it is severing its licensing with gun manufacturers, but claims that it still has the right to feature branded guns without a license. The matter could be pressed to court, but legal experts say there is no precedent for gun companies suing game publishers for displaying branded guns.
"We're telling a story and we have a point of view," EA's President of Labels Frank Gibeau told Reuters. "A book doesn't pay for saying the word 'Colt,' for example."
While gun manufacturers have not announced any plans for a suit, EA does have a court date in June with Bell Helicopter. The company argues that EA's use of its helicopters in Battlefield games is not fair use. The results of that case could be a bellwether for any potential legal action from gun manufacturers.
"It gives publicity to the particular brand of gun being used in the video game," said Ohio State professor Brad J. Bushman, who has studied video game violence. "On the other hand, it's linking that gun with violent and aggressive behavior."
This is EA's second move away from gun manufacturers in the last several months. In December, the company removed links to firearms manufacturers, calling them "inappropriate" in the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting. It noted, however, that it was a charity project that raised money for veterans, and that the company didn't receive payment from the deal.