Epic Games founder and CEO Tim Sweeney said that politics and games are like oil and water, and marketing divisions of companies should seek neutrality (via IGN).
Sweeney made these comments in his talk at the 2020 DICE Summit. Citing To Kill a Mockingbird, the industry veteran explained that games explore the potential for change just like traditional forms of entertainment. “If you think back to To Kill a Mockingbird and the impact that had on people’s views in the time, I think that’s a genuine outlet for games. It really makes people think about things,” said Sweeney. Then, he exemplified that politics and games should be kept apart from each other with a call for a “separation of church and state.” Marketing departments are the reason that the two mix together, and companies should aim to “divorce themselves from politics” to avoid controversy.
“The world is really screwed up right now. Right now our political orientations determine which fast-food chicken restaurant you go to [referencing Chik Fil-A’s political affiliations and the fallout from it]? And that’s really dumb,” explained Sweeney. “There’s no reason to drag divisive topics like that into gaming at all.” Companies should act as “neutral venues for entertainment and employees, customers,” and though its workforce follows one mission, their personal opinions are not of any concern to the company. Sweeney recognised that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to the inclusion or exclusion of politics in games. But, he believes that political messages in art should “come from the heart of creatives and not from marketing departments seeking to capitalize on division.”
When Blizzard removed pro player Blitzschung for his comments supporting protests in Hong Kong, Epic Games said that it “supports everyone’s right to express their views on politics and human rights,” and no Fortnite player or content creator would be punished for communicating these while representing one of the company’s games.