Gears 5, the latest and upcoming instalment in the Gears of Wars series, is set to be completely free from smoking and all smoking-related references.
According to a report from Variety, the decision to go smoke-free was made after the not-for-profit anti-smoking organisation Truth Initiative approached Turner Broadcasting. Turner owns the ELEAGUE eSports division, who have broadcast rights to Gears 5.
Turner then collaborated with The Coalition, the developers behind Gears 5, to ensure that the upcoming third-person shooter would be a no smoking zone.
Rod Fergusson, studio head at The Coalition, said the following in a statement to Variety:
“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.”
In a later tweet in response to IGN, Fergusson also clarified that he has ‘always been anti-smoking’ and has ‘pushed back on having it in Gears since day 1’.
Just to clarify, I've always been anti-smoking and have pushed back on having it in Gears since day 1. There was no smoking to remove from Gears 4 or 5 because there never was any smoking to begin with. And as long as I'm in control, there never will be. Sorry for the confusion.
— Rod Fergusson (@GearsViking) July 13, 2019
Fergusson continued with “There was no smoking to remove from Gears 4 or 5 because there never was any smoking to begin with. And as long as I’m in control, there never will be.”
A representative for Xbox Games Studio, the publishers of the game, informed Variety that the decision was made and done solely by The Coalition.
Previous Gears of War titles have been notorious for their depictions of smoking, such as the cigar-chomping Michael Barrick in Gears of War 3.