Electronic Arts will no longer pay for the rights to use real weapons in its games as part of an assertion of its constitutional rights of free speech, the publisher told Reuters.
Despite severing ties with the real-world weapons industry, the publisher will still continue to use the design and names of these weapons without paying gun manufacturers. According to EA president of labels Frank Gibeau, video game developers share the same constitutional rights of free speech as authors do, explaining: "We're telling a story and we have a point of view. A book doesn't pay for saying the word 'Colt,' for example."
While this decision coincides with a growing number of high-profile shootings and criticism from the National Rifle Association directed at game developers over the proliferation of gun violence in the industry, EA spokesperson Jeff Brown states this has nothing to do with the publisher's move.
Following last year's Newtown shooting, NRA chief executive Wayne LaPierre called the games industry "a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells, and sows, violence against its own people."
"The response from our audience was pretty clear: they feel the comments from the NRA were a simple attempt to change the subject," said Brown.
Prior to distancing itself from the gun industry, EA licensed weapons from companies such as McMillan Group International. Comparatively, publisher Activision Blizzard gives "special thanks" to a number of firearm manufacturers in the credits of titles in the Call of Duty series.