Coalition Studios chief Rod Ferguson has claimed that it was his idea to remove all smoking depictions from the upcoming Gears of War 5.
Previous reports stated that the change came about as a result of not-for-profit anti-smoking organization Truth Initiative approaching Turner to request that the game be made smoke free. Turner's ELeague esports division now has broadcast rights to Gears and the company was said to have collaborated with the developers to remove smoking from the game.
“This took a lot of time and a lot of good thinking,” Turner senior VP Seth Ladetsky said, via Variety. “It’s the right image for ELeague - and the game itself - to project.”
Truth Initiative CEO and president Robin Koval thanked Coalition for the removal of smoking depictions, adding that he hopes other devs can follow suit.
“In the midst of the pervasive reemergence of glamorized smoking imagery in pop culture, we commend [The Coalition] for taking smoking out of Gears 5 and ELeague for featuring this tobacco-free game during this weekend’s competition,” he remarked. “We are hopeful that this decision will encourage other game developers and streaming tournaments to follow this lead and level up the gaming experience by going tobacco-free.”
Fergusson, though, has tweeted that the reports aren't exactly accurate and has taken responsibility for the change.
"To be fair, this isn't entirely accurate," he wrote on Friday. "I've been against smoking from the beginning and have worked hard to not make it a part of our franchise. Ever notice that the Dizzy concept art for Gears 2 has a cigarette but the actual character in the game doesn't? I stopped it."
To be fair, this isn't entirely accurate. I've been against smoking from the beginning and have worked hard to not make it a part of our franchise. Ever notice that the Dizzy concept art for Gears 2 has a cigarette but the actual character in the game doesn't? I stopped it. https://t.co/KahohpMH3A— Rod Fergusson (@GearsViking) July 12, 2019
The tweet from Game Informer referenced by Fergusson has since been deleted.
In any case, Truth Initiative is appreciative of the change regardless of who made it happen. The organization's aim is to end tobacco use among young Americans and it has targetted smoking imagery in video games.
The change made to Gears follows an announcement from Netflix stating that it will remove tobacco imagery in all originals rated for younger viewers unless it interferes with the maintaining of "historical or factual accuracy."