Bethesda Defends Wolfenstein 2 For Being A Wolfenstein Game

Over the last 24 hours, Bethesda has done something that would have been considered unnecessary: publicly justifying Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus's anti-Nazi approach.

Everything kicked off early yesterday morning, when Bethesda pushed out the latest piece of marketing for The New Colossus on Twitter. It was a play on the "Make America Great Again" line, a key slogan for Donald Trump which has since become a meme of its own.

Wolfenstein has been pretty clear about its position on Nazis. BJ Blazkowicz has been killing Nazis in some way, some how, since 1992. Sometimes it's been in Germany. Other times it's been in the US. Sometimes it's been in another dimension entirely. But wherever Nazis shall be, BJ will be there.

But because this is 2017, and everything is just a little bit off the rails, Wolfenstein was suddenly being accused of being "political", normalising hatred, and using a charged political climate for marketing.

Pete Hines, the vice president for marketing and PR at Bethesda, told Games Industry that the idea of the #NoMoreNazis marketing push was "what the entire game (and franchise)" was based on.

He intimated that development on Wolfenstein was ongoing before the current political climate was this charged, and that nobody at Bethesda had a crystal ball to know just how prescient Wolfenstein 2 would be:

At the time none of us expected that the game would be seen as a comment on current issues, but here we are ... in Wolfenstein's case, it's pure coincidence that Nazis are marching in the streets of America this year. And it's disturbing that the game can be considered a controversial political statement at all.

Hines reiterated that "it isn't really debatable that Nazis are, as Henry Jones Sr. said, 'the slime of humanity'".

"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 added.

The marketing message is pretty simple for Bethesda: Nazis are bad. That hasn't changed in 25 years. But Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and social media wasn't the beast that it was now, and so things that would have seemed completely bizarre back in 1992 happen more frequently.

Like people complaining that Wolfenstein is suddenly political - even though it could be argued that the franchise has always been subtly political. Wolfenstein hasn't really changed - but the world around us has.

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Comments

    I've seen a lot of people blowing up about this recently... Twitter is a cesspit though. I hate seeing twitter quotes on anything. People become rabid dogs on that platform.

    For me I don't care that it's about Nazi's. That's a fine villain to have. But having played the last game and watched a few trailers for the next, I actually do have a small problem with the whole "we have these people we don't like, let's systematically and brutally kill them cos it's awesome" approach. I think it's a really bad concept through and through.

    With the shooting rampages that are happening in the world, i think this whole approach is inherently negative and bad. Overwatch is an FPS but it does it sooo much nicer than the over the top brutality of Wolfenstein. And yes I've played all the Wolfensteins, even the first. I know what they're about but noone can deny they took it to a whole new level with the last one.

      I would be sad if they toned down the brutality. I feel like making violence more clean and palatable is not a great thing for society.

      I feel like Saving Private Ryan would have had less impact if they had replaced the blood with puffs of smoke like they did in Medal of Honor.

        It's different though... watching a movie is different from hitting melee and stabbing someone several times in their neck and ear.

        Those melee animations didn't gross you out at all? They were so visceral. And the sequel is going to top it.

          It wasn't too much at all, there are plenty of older games that have had more brutal gore. I don't remember it being particularly gruesome, and I just played The Old Blood. When we get to the point of actually seeing (and hearing) the fat, muscle and windpipe choking on it's own blood after slashing an enemies neck, or realistic entrails sloshing out of a shotgun blasted belly while they scream well maybe that might be kinda gross and too far I think. I'd still play it though.

            Hahaha! Awesome. nice to know the sound of entrails is the line for you!

            I think for me the part where you had to choose between the 2 guys who lived, and it kept on revisiting that scene in flashback, ever showing more, until you just see the dude pull the brain out, then stick it in a robot to kill you.

            I was just like... sweet jesus. Cannot unsee that.

          As someone who works in surgery and plays video games I can tell you 2 things.
          1. The violence in games even in the graphicly best is still miles away from. How real blood and guts work.
          2. The smell is worse

          Isn't it good that it grosses people out? I'd be more worried if it didn't.

            Some people love it though. It's porn for them. THAT's what worries me. I don't think we should be making media that panders to them. I think it's a worry.

              I mean, you could say the same of any media featuring children. So we should just stop making any media featuring children, right?

      It's a game. There's never been any credible evidence that games incite violent behaviour, including mass shootings.

        I know, but that's not what I'm saying. I just think it's pretty gross and in poor taste.

        If you want to go further, I do think there's a link between this kind of media and violence but not in a simple 'one causes the other' way. I think it's much more complicated than that. I'm not calling for a banning or anything like that either. I just think it's way over the top and needlessly gruesome. So many moments in the original where they did something and I just thought "far out, that's just... way beyond the pale". It's still a great game and a good story, but the brutality on display was a 10/10 every time. For me it's like the hostel films. Great movies. Really enjoyed them. But i'll never watch them again cos they're massively glorifying some really, really sick stuff.

        Just because this kind of media isn't directly linked to causing violence, doesn't mean that a lot of very sick people aren't enjoying it immensely. Which I think is a worry. I don't think a big part of popular culture should be doing that. I think it's a problem. Can you see my point, even a little bit?

          My stance on the whole video games and violence correlation is simply that violent people are drawn to violence. I violent person may play a violent game for a different type of kick then I play it for, they were violent before they played it and continue being violent after.

            Yeah. That's what I think too. So when we make something brutal, I do think it's important to consider if we're making it for people to enjoy, or something for the sickos to get off on.

            I think Wolfenstein, with it's level of violence, is getting pretty close to the line.

      Unfortunately, it often just seems to be social media in itself (Facebook can become just as toxic).

        Yep. There's a lot of really unhappy, bitter people out there who are more than happy to vent all their bile and hatred on social media. Then people in the media report on it like it's real news. It's a weird feedback loop where all we hear about is how outraged people are, but the people who are outraged are the kind of angry douchenozzles whose opinions we shouldn't be listening to in the first place!

          I concur.
          There's no evidence to suggest violent video games CREATE violent individuals. I myself enjoy FPS shooters as much as the next gamer, and yet am a normal decent family man. BUT violent movies/games are fodder to build fervour for the already slightly unhinged in society.
          Also, I have noticed a slight shift in the type of violence over the years. When I was a teen, I would go see films like Nightmare on Elm St and Friday the 13th, and though they were considered violent for the time, the audience were led to cheer when the bad guy was defeated. Fast forward to now and films like Saw make the evil killer the protagonist you are supposed to support. The world is becoming f*cked up.

            Totally man. The saw films set a new level for just... total sadism.

      I feel as if toning it down would on dilute the message it's trying to get across and also dimish the brutality of what death, destruction, and war caused for the people who lived it or learn about it. The more visceral the violence the more likely people are going to understand the true nature of what occurred and what we're trying to avoid in future.

      "we have these people we don't like, let's systematically and brutally kill them cos it's awesome" -Nazis when referring to the Jews

        I agree ans the point that old blood and i forgot the name of the orher pushed was that war is shit.
        Over the top violence and gore reinforces that point, it's not all glory and stuff it's actually horrible.

        Or the more raging erections they're going to cause in sickos. That too. Don't forget that.

        And the rest of us normies become increasing desensitised to really bad shit.

        And it's not just the nazis. The american's think a lot like this as well. It's becoming prevalent in the world. This is a problem. Let's solve it with guns.

        Which just never solves anything. Like Afganistan. And Iraq. And Israel. Decades of war. So many killed. But the fighting never stops. Because it's just giving people more reasons to hate.

      *With the shooting rampages that are happening in America

      FTFY

    Seriously, just 2 years ago it was a known fact that Nazis and the Klan were the only groups that everyone agreed on as being the bad guys

      The problem is that some hipster rebels expanded the definition of Nazi to include everyone to the right of them.........Then some of those people just went "screw it, Im a Nazi now"

      Ah the good old days, before Brexit, Trump and Pauline Hanson :/

        Before Brexit, Trump, and Pauline... but after actual Nazis. The good old'ish window of days between the 50s and 90s. :)

          The cold war and commies was a great time.

          Did you ever check for reds under your bed?

      It's depressing. They caught onto the idea that we live in a wonderful, peaceful and accepting society. So they can preach genocide but if I don't treat them with dignity and respect I'm the bad guy. They troll groups like Antifa into fighting them, and it's reported as 'trouble makers on both sides' because we live in such great times that we can barely comprehend the need for violent protest. Even against people attempting to revive the ideals that made the Nazis and the Klan so horrible.

        By trolling Antifa into violence you mean legitimately voting Trump into office right??

        Dude, honestly, the segment of ANTIFA and anyone else that engages in violence due to political beliefs, chooses to do so of their own free will. Let's not make excuses for people engaging in violence, when they sink to that level, it's disgusting and abhorrent, it's a choice they make openly and freely as adults.

        You're right ANTIFA normally have bake sales and a sausage sizzle.... if only it weren't for this Nazis!

          Since i'm pretty sure you aren't really aware of what anarchists do, they don't do bake sales, they just give away food and help the communities that they live in. anarchism is a philosophy based on mutual aid and the way they act dictates that. the only time you hear about them is when they are doing things that the media doesn't approve of.

          A group that calls for violence against Nazis vs a group that calls for the extermination of all LGBT and people of color, totally comparable right?

          Well you don't need anti fascists if there are no fascists

            All well and easy when you redefine "fascist" to mean "anyone I don't agree with or share myopic views".

        They troll groups like Antifa into fighting them, and it's reported as 'trouble makers on both sides' because we live in such great times that we can barely comprehend the need for violent protest.

        I am all against this white supremacy crap and hiding behind free speech to purport hate, but you may want to look at some of the group's associated with antifa before you seek violent protest, some don't have the best history. Although that said, war is usually the answer. Violence trumps words.

        In the end though, there are no winners from a civil war only losers.

    I understand the concept of disagreeing with the idea of "punch a nazi" since that's usually preceeded by "I disagree with you, I am calling you a nazi" but come on, Wolfenstein aren't people who disagreed with the wrong people, they're actual literal 1940s World War II nazis.

    And I think it's okay to use some modern day references in advertising this since on context, you would literally be making America nazi free again, as it was before the war the game is set after.

    People gotta learn context is the problem.

    Also what Rowan said is right, Twitter quotes are stupid because it's a cesspool and you can get any quote you want to back any claim you want.

      Problem is we all know context and common senseand plain old just thinking is dead these days.

      A majorityb of folks think regurgitating read content counts as well thought out analysis.

      And as always theres always gonna be crap stirrers willing to stir the pot to get the herd going

    It's fine to hate Nazis, as it has always been. Nazis complaining about people being intolerant of them is the height of stupidity.

    People just tired with the politicisation of everything. Boo hoo.

      More like ppl shit stirring because ppl are tired of everything being politicised

      People who are tired of politics disengage from it, they don't make comments complaining about liberals and SJWs and other politically loaded terms that just add fuel to the fire. That's not the mark of someone who's tired of politics, that's the mark of someone who's so invested in their own politics that they see anything critical of it as an attack.

        I disagree. People have a lot of trouble disengaging and they end up like this. I mean if you tried to completely disengage you couldn't come to Kotaku or follow Bethesda on Twitter. There's this huge anti-left movement going on right now and it's home to more than just the right wing.
        I think that's where terms like SJW come from. The right has always had responses for the left. They've said they're stupid hippies who can't make it in the real world and want to live off handouts. That's a personal attack but it's not purely a personal attack. However if you look at the response to the left wing recently they're made up mostly of people who seem to agree with left wing ideas*. Social Justice Warrior implies the warrior part of the term is wrong. Virtue Signaling is apparently bad because it's insincere.
        Even the term liberal has changed. The amount of people screaming that liberals are wrong has gone down, but the amount of people screaming that liberals are insufferably smug about being right has skyrocketed.

        You're right that these are the words of people who see critical views as attacks, but they're also used by people who can't find a way to disengage. I'd be interested to know how many people genuinely avoid politics.
        None of that is defending them. It's a stupid reaction to have and it supports horrible people.

        *Not surprisingly considering since the right wing has ditched pretty much everyone who isn't outright evil and the left wing represents a more conservative, level headed vote.

          I appreciate that people have difficulty disengaging sometimes, but if their goal is to reduce politicisation in their life then responding with politically loaded terms is fighting perceived fire with actual fire - it's only going to make the problem worse, not better. There's no better demonstration of that than that this article exists: this 'issue' started as a single tweet with a perceived political bent; now because of reactions like above there are articles about it on every major gaming news site and even some mainstream media like Newsweek.

          I don't doubt there are people who dislike solely that the tweet riffed on a recent campaign slogan, even though it didn't contain any association beyond that. But being against Nazis isn't a leftist thing, nor a liberal thing, nor a SJW thing; it's much more universal than that. The people blaming liberals and leftists in response to this are projecting 'something political I don't like' (the use of the slogan) onto 'people who hold a political view I don't like' even though that connection doesn't exist at the source. That transposition, in my opinion, is necessarily political and I have a hard time believing people who genuinely want to distance themselves from politics would respond in such a politically slanted way.

          I just wanted to add though that I like your well-presented rebuttal. I think we agree on most points, and what disagreement there is is calm and respectful. Kudos, friend!

    I suppose that just linking a certain Dead Kennedys song might have had some rights issues if linked from a corporate twitter.

    This is why I hate social media in general, it's given a voice to a bunch of morons that have no place sharing their thoughts with the public. All I know is that I'm glad I deleted my Facebook, Instagram & Twitter back in 2013.

    Last edited 07/10/17 12:16 pm

      Sometimes I'm inclined to follow suit (though I keep my Facebook relatively private anyway).

    Wait, that guy Levi has a Hebrew first name and he's upset about expelling video game Nazis from America? I'm not even sure what's going on anymore.

      So names are now tied specifically to ethnic group's? Yes it may have Hebrew roots but it does not mean that others cannot take that name.

    Can we stop treating tweets as having any value? Opinions expressed on twitter are almost worthless, its the lowest form of expression.

    Sending a letter to someone is a genuine source of outrage, sending a tweet is like taking a fart.

    I do like Bethesda's response though. Good on them for standing their ground.

    It would be amazing if news sources, blog sites like this and place likes reddit (and those who use them) stop using steam reviews, meta critic scores, or the twitter rabble for proof of anything at all.

    Not sure who is worse: the lunatics who use twitter and reddit to bait and be pathetic like this or the people (on blog/news sites) who legitimise their behaviour and make something out of their words, which are nothing but vacuous hot air

      I don't mid them using it, as long as its not the main sources for the whole article. Twitter is not a factual place. Its full of opinions from mostly angry people.

      There has to be examples of what Bethesda was referring to, or their response wouldn't have made sense at all. I get where you're coming from, but reporting also involves providing context, and if Bethesda is responding to reactions on social media primarily... you know what I mean?

        My comment was deemed 'inappropriate' typical, its like google, lets not give credence to different opinions. Just shut them down, that way thinking independently isn't a problem.

        Last edited 08/10/17 10:24 am

          You can make your first point just fine; others have said similar things. Just don't drag the local writers, your assumption of their politics or the diversity of the team into it, as that's got squat to do with the story above and is little better than shitposting.

            Also, it's the weekend. I can't spend every waking hour moderating comments, you know? Bit of understanding would be appreciated.

              Alex you are more patient than me. When I moderated a forum I would of probably closed it for comments by now haha

    I am honestly confused by this article. It reads as if there are people angry at #NoMoreNazis, but all I'm seeing is people angry at tying Donald Trump to Nazis by using his MAGA slogan, since that is what a lot of radical left-leaners have done.
    I despise Trump as much as the next left-leaner, but I will not ignore the damage that #PunchANazi and equating right-wing to Nazism has done. Not when I see Jews called Nazis because they're conservative. Not when a girl has her hair set on fire for wearing a parody MAGA hat. Not when a Polish journalist is beaten by Germans whilst they scream "Nazi" all because he was in a photo with Lauren Southern.
    If this ad had just used the phrase that's in the video ("Not My America") then I honestly don't believe this would've become an issue except for anyone expect actual Nazis that can go eat shit.

      Yeah, I feel Bethesda knew what they were doing by parodying the MAGA slogan.

      I await Obergruppenführer Frau Irene Engel declaring all citizens should Pokemon Go Invade The Poles.

    We’ll be apologizing and respecting the rights of cancer soon.

    I'm a simple person with simple needs. I see a Nazi and I ask a simple question.

    Is there a chainsaw? Please let there be a chainsaw

    Last edited 07/10/17 10:37 pm

      You know many real Nazis were conscripts and they fought for fear of persecution of their families if they did not.

    The people complaining aren't the ones that would buy the game and their lack of knowledge shows they might not game at all. Why then do we care?

    Laughable attempt by right-leaning asshats to have a stab at the left. Typical behaviour, no one should be surprised.
    The promo tweet is in no way political and just proves that certain people either don't have a sense of humour or can't let anything pass without somehow connecting it to 'libtards' 'sjws' /whatever mindless buzz words they parrot because they can't critically think or form ideas of their own. Alex Jones would be proud.

    Its a game and you farts are too old to take it as one anymore.

    I hate Nazis as much as the next guy, but you have to admit the wording of that Tweet is almost identical to Trump's (in)famous slogan:

    "Make America great again."
    "Make America Nazi-free again."

    So obviously, it seems like a dig at Trump and his supporters. Whether or not that was the intention, who knows? It can certainly be interpreted as one, which would explain why people are upset because contrary to popular belief not all Trump supporters are literal Nazis.

    Last edited 08/10/17 10:35 pm

    It's the whole point of the entire franchise. If someone is insulted about who the enemies are, then i'm worried about their mentality. If you are American and support or sympathize with Nazism, then you are un-American and a traitor to your country. Don't like the idea behind the franchise? Don't pay attention to it.

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