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:
Maybe I'm becoming an old man but why is smoking in an M Rated game even an issue? Characters can drink themselves to death and nobody bats an eye but if they smoke it's a big deal. pic.twitter.com/LAyEOyof04
— Alternate Universe YOU (@IntrovertOmega) July 12, 2019
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.