In Gears 5, the only form of smoking will come from the barrels of guns after a heated shootout, as cigars and cigarettes will be removed from the latest entry in the series.
The Coalition made the decision after Truth Initiative, a non-profit, anti-smoking organization, approached Turner, whose ELeague esports division holds broadcast rights to Gears 5.
Previous Gears of War games contained scenes where characters were smoking cigars or cigarettes, and there will be no such scenes in Gears 5. Rumour is, this took months to edit out.
“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,” said The Coalition studio head Rod Fergusson in a statement.
This report comes from Variety, who raises the point of double standard. As removing references to smoking is all good, but the game is still very heavy on violence. However, the report does acknowledge studies showing a lack of correlation between playing violent video games and real-world crime.
Seth Ladetsky, senior VP of Turner Sports Sales and head of Turner Sports Digital and ELeague sales strategy and revenue, said that removing smoking in Gears 5 does not change the nature of the game.
Truth Initiative President and CEO Robin Koval praised the move of The Coalition to remove all references of smoking in Gears 5. “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,” Koval said in a statement.
Gears 5 is due to be released on September 10 for the Xbox One and Windows 10 PC.