This week, Bethesda kicked off new marketing for Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus. Tweeting a video with the hashtag #NoMoreNazis, Bethesda was met with some unexpected criticism.
— Wolfenstein (@wolfenstein) October 5, 2017
Some people were upset with the sentiment, claiming Bethesda was trying to profit off of the current political climate. Others accused the publisher of caving to ‘Social Justice Warriors‘ and ANTIFA. Others still accused Bethesda of standing on a ‘liberal soapbox.’ Some people begged it not to bring politics into the franchise.
[perfectpullquote align=”left” cite=”The simple fact that using Nazis as villains can be controversial though, is crazy” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””][/perfectpullquote]
When people can legitimately become upset that a videogame set in an alternate timeline is about kicking Nazis out of the United States we are truly in frightening territory.
Your first reaction may to laugh at or dismiss these sentiments. The simple fact that using Nazis as villains can be controversial though, is crazy.
Even crazier is that Bethesda has had to defend its marketing campaign and the content of Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus. Speaking with Games Industry, Bethesda’s VP of PR and marketing Pete Hines said, “It’s disturbing that the game can be considered a controversial political statement at all.”
According to Hines, The New Colossus’ story and setting where plotted during the development of The New Order. As the second chapter in a planned trilogy, neither Bethesda or developers MachineGames foresaw the current political events. [perfectpullquote align=”right” cite=”people who are against freeing the world from the hate and murder of a Nazi regime probably aren’t interested in playing Wolfenstein,” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””][/perfectpullquote]
“At the time none of us expected that the game would be seen as a comment on current issues, but here we are. We make games that we think are fun, meaningful, and immersive for a mature audience.
“In Wolfenstein’s case, it’s pure coincidence that Nazis are marching in the streets of America this year.”
Hines is clear in his condemnation of Nazis and puts Bethesda firmly in the “against” column. He also feels that it’s not a stretch to call Nazis “bad and un-American.”
When it comes to people claiming they’ll boycott Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus Hines is nonchalant. “Certainly there’s a risk of alienating some customers, but to be honest, people who are against freeing the world from the hate and murder of a Nazi regime probably aren’t interested in playing Wolfenstein,” he said.
No More Nazis
Wolfenstein has always been about defeating the Nazis. From the very first game, players were pitted against Nazis during World War II. In Wolfenstein 3D the end boss was Hitler.[perfectpullquote align=”left” cite=”When the leader of the free world hesitates to condemn Nazis, it’s no wonder that people feel emboldened to share their views.” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””][/perfectpullquote]
Wolfenstein is not a series that’s ever been backward about going forward. Nazis have always been the enemy and they have always had to be destroyed.
That sentiment is true, not just for Wolfenstein, but for real-life too. Nazis are the enemy. Nazis have always been the enemy and they are history’s greatest villains. Great meaning large or immense, not good or noble.
A funny thing has been happening in the last few years though. White Nationalism is on the rise across many western countries. Nazis are marching the streets. And the nation that defeated them 72-years ago now seems unable or unwilling to condemn them.
America Under Siege
I shouldn’t comment on the political climate of another nation. However, when the leader of a country — and the free world — hesitates to condemn Nazis, it’s no wonder that people feel emboldened to share their views. In the age of social media, when people can instantly share their thoughts with people all around the world. It’s become much easier for fringe groups to reach the forefront of the collective consciousness.
It’s easier to find people who share similar views no matter what they may be. And it’s easier to safely spew hate from behind a keyboard.
Thankfully, those who have been offended by the marketing of Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus appear to be in the minority. Many commentators replying to the tweet voice support and condemnation of those who claim offence. Most replies simply point out that Wolfenstein has always been about defeating the Nazis. Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is just the latest in the series.
Bethesda should be commended for their approach to the response from those on the far-right. I for one am even more excited to get my hands on Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus now that I know it’s made plenty of fascists salty.
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus will be available for PC, PS4 and Xbox One on October 27, 2017 and Switch in 2018.