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No Smoking Allowed in ‘Gears 5’

  • Corporate partnerships with the Truth Initiative.
  • Turner promoting partnership prior to huge publicity event.
  • Many fans voicing skepticism. 


Thanks to the efforts of the Truth Initiative, a nonprofit organization responsible for the commercials in the video above, Gears 5 will contain no depictions of smoking or tobacco-related products. The decision stemmed from Truth approaching Turner Sports, which owns Eleague, which in turn owns the broadcasting rights to Gears 5. So starting with Turner, this decision made it down the chain of command, all the way to the developers at The Coalition, where studio head Rod Fergusson had this to say:

I’ve seen firsthand the devastating impact of smoking. It’s always been important for me to not use smoking as a narrative device, which is why we made the conscious choice to avoid highlighting or glorifying smoking in ‘Gears 5’ and throughout the Gears of War Universe moving forward.

Interestingly, this concern for the devastating impact of smoking was minimally present until Turner started promoting their partnership with Truth, which as it happens, is just in time for the ELeague Gears Summer Series Invitational, a live Twitch tournament on the 13th-14th of July that will debut Gears 5.

Seth Ladetsky, senior VP of Turner Sports Sales, and head of Turner Sports Digital and ELeague Sales Strategy and Revenue, shone a bit more light on the motivations behind the change. “This took a lot of time and a lot of good thinking. It’s the right image for ELeague — and the game itself — to project,” he said.

Make no mistake, this was a very calculated decision that came, not from a sincere concern for the health of strangers, but image and branding considerations in the face of a large promotion. Executive decisions, especially those within AAA studios and enormous corporations, follow one imperative above all others–maximizing profit. Every little detail about a game, its marketing, its associations, etc., is meticulously considered in terms of how it will affect the bottom line.

So ultimately, the powers that be have calculated that they stand to gain more than they risk losing in their alliance with the masterminds behind the commercials above, but the result is as transparent and out of touch as the commercials themselves. Who knows though… perhaps time will prove their tactics right, but don’t be fooled by tweets like these from Fergusson:

Because if Turner calculated that tobacco imagery would boost their public image and ultimately open up more cash flow, you better believe they’d be promoting their partnership with Marlboro prior to the Twitch tournament. It’s a shame really, because there are competent ways to challenge smoking, ways that don’t tread anywhere near “Hello, fellow kids, you’ll be much safer after I’ve hidden the no-no sticks from your impressionable little eyeballs.” Personally, I find smoking revolting, but after watching those Truth ads, I want a cigarette in one hand and a vaper in the other.

Post Comment

  1. Trevor Richardson on July 13, 2019 at 8:25 am said

    Nothing I really can say or do will smarten up any suit in the higher up video game industry. Cant wait for Truth ads at the beginning of each chapter of Gears 5.

  2. deimios666 on July 13, 2019 at 10:26 am said

    Just a thought: how about showing the effect of smoking in game.

    Example: have a smoking war hero who survives impossible odds then dies of lung cancer instead of battle. Basically his choices robbing him of his heroic death and place in Valhalla.

    I guarantee that would hit the message home way more than going ‘la la la, bad things don’t exist’.

    • Daniel Ionita on July 16, 2019 at 1:18 pm said

      That would be really anti-climatic for a person to just die in a game due to smoking. How about doing what games and movies have done for a long time…let certain characters smoke if it suits them? Gears 5 is getting less and less exciting, the promotion for that game is absolutely garbage. Rod isn’t saving lives, he’s looking for validation and thinks fairly low of gamers if he thinks showing one or two smoking characters will lead people to rush out and buy cigarettes. I hate smoking, however this only pushes me towards lighting up in protest. Fuck this guy.

  3. Sam from Vanquish used smoking as a gameplay mechanic to distract enemies, and Vanquish is 10x cooler for it.

  4. Oh good, more moralizing and bullying. I mean send the message home? What message that smoking is bad for you? Nobody is confused on that point. I mean whatever I wasn’t going to play the game anyway, enjoy a smoke environment in your new murder game, wouldn’t want the adults who are playing this M rated game to be influenced by anything bad after all.

  5. Smoking is bad but chainsawing people in half is OK, huh Microsoft?

  6. can wait for them to say sex in video games are bad and the sims series are gonna have finds a way for players created sims to have babies with every doing it.

  7. Musou Tensei on July 13, 2019 at 4:24 pm said

    This game is a trainwreck from any angle.

  8. More morality bullshit

  9. They are concerned how smoking in video game might influence players while they KILL dozens of humanoids in brutal way?
    This is same if someone whine that Jax smoking in Mortal Kombat game gives bad influence to players while giving blind eye to brutal Fatalities? GTFO with your fucked up moralities…

  10. Who are these people?

  11. Ya I’ll be skipping G5 that’s not the only reason but its the last.

  12. Type text here…Simply place a ‘Smoking is bad for your health’ warning right after the epilepsy warning.

  13. Fuzzybeard on July 14, 2019 at 9:51 pm said

    Most people don’t care about this kind of virtue signalling. Video-games are escapist media why is it so hard to keep it that way. Also its a rated M game we are more than smart enough to know what that carries. It seems like rate M doesn’t carry any meaning anymore with this censorship going on.

  14. iasonconyers84 on July 15, 2019 at 1:29 am said

    No lie here, I am getting sick as he’ll with the so what called censorship. This is supposed to be a mature game right?

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