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Why does EA's Battlefield teaser include a disclaimer about endorsements?

No paid product placement here

Samit Sarkar (he/him) is Polygon’s deputy managing editor. He has more than 15 years of experience covering video games, movies, television, and technology.

Electronic Arts will reveal its next Battlefield game — apparently a World War I title called Battlefield 1during a livestream today, and the company published a teaser video earlier this week that you can watch above. It's not particularly notable in and of itself, but there is something strange at the very end: a disclaimer.

"No weapon, gear or vehicle manufacturer is affiliated with or has sponsored or endorsed this game," reads the note in fine print at the very bottom of the image.

Battlefield 2016 premiere teaser 1920

Here's a close-up:

Battlefield 2016 premiere teaser crop 840

It's not something you regularly see in advertisements for video games or other visual media, although there is a parallel when it comes to films in which characters smoke. For example, Warner Bros. has used the following disclaimer in the credits for some of its films, according to Smokefree Movies: "No person or entity associated with this film received payment or anything of value, or entered into any agreement, in connection with the depiction of tobacco products."

In essence, this kind of note declares that although the work in question may feature brand names and manufacturers for real-life products, the producer of the work did not receive any compensation for including them. In other words, EA is saying that although you may see an MP5 submachine gun or a Humvee, say, in this year's Battlefield game, neither Heckler & Koch nor AM General paid EA for that product placement.

"A book doesn't pay for saying the word 'Colt,' for example"

It's unclear what, if anything, changed in recent memory to lead EA to add this disclaimer to the trailer; representatives for EA did not return our requests for comment. But back in 2012, the publisher came under fire for linking to gun manufacturers on the website for Medal of Honor Warfighter. The context was that EA had set up a charity to support war veterans; EA said that it never received any funds from the weapons makers, and that the money went directly to the charity. But the publisher ended up removing the links shortly after the Sandy Hook school shooting in December 2012, in which 20 children and six adults were killed.

As for payments going the other way, EA told Reuters in May 2013 that it would no longer pay licensing fees to companies such as gun manufacturers in order to use their brands in video games. However, the publisher said that it would continue to depict real-world weapons in its video games, citing its constitutional right to free speech.

"We're telling a story and we have a point of view," said Frank Gibeau, then the president of EA Labels, in an interview with Reuters. "A book doesn't pay for saying the word 'Colt,' for example."

Battlefield 4, which was released in the fall of 2013, includes dozens of authentic weapons and real-world military vehicles. Soldiers can fire guns such as the FAMAS (made by Nexter), PP-2000 (KBP Instrument Design Bureau) and M1014 (Benelli Armi SPA). Vehicles include the M1161 Growler (American Growler), T-90A (Uralvagonzavod) and F-35 (Lockheed Martin Aeronautics).

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