EA ditches gun licensing deals this year - but will continue to use branded guns

Tom Sykes at

EA have been fairly cosy with arms manufacturers in the past, but today their special relationship appears to be coming to an end. This year at least, EA won't sign contracts with weapons makers for a license to use their guns in games - but rather than replace the guns with daisies and daffodils they're, er, still going to use them anyway. "We're telling a story and we have a point of view," EA's Frank Gibeau told Reuters. "A book doesn't pay for saying the word Colt, for example."

As Yahoo notes, EA said their decision doesn't have anything to do with politics or the NRA's recent campaign against violent games; rather, they're asserting their constitutional free speech right to use trademarks without permission. It's the 'fair use' principle, essentially.

We'll have to wait and see how this pans out for EA in the long run, but their interpretation of fair use has already led to a cease-and-desist from aircraft manufacturers Bell Helicopter, over the unlicensed depiction of their aircraft in Battlefield 3. As for EA's upcoming batch of gun-heavy action games, they're unlikely to be too affected - EA are still going to authentically/lavishly model the famous weapons, they just won't sign any contracts giving them permission to do so.