Politics in games has been a hot button issue in recent years and this time, Epic Games boss, Tim Sweeney has waded in with his views on the subject. During his keynote speech at the DICE summit, Sweeney argued that politics and games should be kept well apart from each other.
“We should get the marketing departments out of politics. We live in a world where your political affiliation determines what chicken restaurant you go to. There’s no reason to drag divisive topics like that into gaming,” said Sweeney (thanks IGN), “We need to create a very clear separation between church and state … employees, customers and everyone else should be able to express themselves. We as companies need to divorce ourselves from politics … platforms should be neutral.”
“A company is a group of people who get together to accomplish a mission that is larger than what any one person can do,” he continued, “and a company’s mission is a holy thing to it, right? Epic’s mission is to build great technology and great games. And we can count on every employee at Epic – we can even demand every employee at Epic unite behind that mission. But every other matter we have to respect their personal opinions. And they may differ from management’s or each other’s or whatever.”
Just last week, Gears of War creator, Cliff Bleszinski recently blamed politics on the failure of his studio’s first-person shooter, LawBreakers. Conversely, in November, Life is Strange writer, Jean-Luc Cano spoke about the importance of the inclusion of politics in games stating that “we wanted to get more political and face more real-life issues”
But politics in games wasn’t the only thing to come under fire during the speech. Loot boxes and pay-to-win games also earned his criticism and ‘adversarial models’ weren’t left out either.
“We have businesses that profit by doing their customers harm,” stated Sweeney as quoted by the Hollywood Reporter, calling out Google and Facebook specifically for the latter, explaining that they offer a free service in terms of gaming “then make you pay for their service in loss of privacy and loss of freedom”.
It wasn’t all bad though – Sweeney did have praise for cross-play and the freedom it gives players. Unsurprisingly, he used Fortnite as a shining example of cross-platform technology. “In Fortnite, the player who spends time with friends plays for twice as long and spends more money. Cross-platform is the future, and we all have to do our part.”