Like candy cigarettes with name brand manufacturers on their boxes, models of real cars in racing games and athletic sponsorships in sports games, some gun manufacturers hope that the weapons that appear in shooters will entice players to purchase their products, according to a report in Eurogamer.
"It is hard to qualify to what extent rifle sales have increased as a result of being in games," said Ralph Vaughn, who negotiates deals with game developers for Barrett Firearms Manufacturing, whose M82 sniper rifle has appeared in Call of Duty games. "But video games expose our brand to a young audience who are considered possible future owners."
As visuals have improved, many developers have included in-game weapons that mirror real-world counterparts. The trend on console games began as far back as the Nintendo 64's GoldenEye 007. The creator of Rare's 1997 shooter, Martin Hollis, said that the game's weapons were "modeled on real weapons."
Hollis, who left Rare in 1998, is troubled by the possible implications of marketing firearms to young players.
"Licensing gun names is a darker point on a spectrum that begins with the act of playing Cops and Robbers," he said. "But putting money in the palm of arms dealers can only help them make tools to kill."
In December, a gunman killed 26 students and faculty at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Ct. Violent video games have come under increased in the wake of the shootings. Vice President Joe Biden met with representatives from the video game industry to discuss gun violence in early January. Legislators have linked violent video games with real life violence, as has the National Rifle Association. A national theater chain is considering removing violent games from its lobbies.
You can read the full feature at Eurogamer and see Polygon's coverage about video games following the Sandy Hook shootings in our storystream below.