Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Dev Responds to White Phosphorus Controversy

Call of Duty’s Killstreaks and Scorestreaks have always been tools of destruction for players who do well in the games’ multiplayer modes, but one Killstreak in the upcoming Modern Warfare has attracted criticism lately. White Phosphorus is a Killstreak players can acquire if they get enough kills, and like other parts of the war series, the Killstreak is based on the real-life chemical of the same name that’s used by military forces. It’s inclusion in the game resulted in controversy from those who condemned its appearance, a controversy which a Modern Warfare developer has now responded to.

Though it’s used by military forces to produce smoke and disorient, improper use of the chemical can constitute a war crime. It’s for this reason that people spoke out against the Killstreak since the multiplayer environment would see it dropped on other players in maps which typically appear to be set in areas where civilians could be present. People also contrasted the dark tones of the game’s single-player campaign with the more nonchalant inclusion of the weaponized chemical in multiplayer games.

Speaking to VG24/7, multiplayer design director Geoff Smith explained that Infinity Ward’s thinking is that the multiplayer setting is a different playground entirely from what’s happening in the single-player mode. Smith said the team was “just creating this playground to play on.”

“Our game is more about two sides, that there is no good guy or bad guy, you play on either one. We’re just creating this playground to play on,” Smith told VG24/7. “I always felt like in the previous games that multiplayer is like the distant weapon fire that you hear a few blocks away from where the single player is.”

The director explained that the origins of Modern Warfare’s White Phosphorus comes from a desire to have a Killstreak which better displayed a disoriented effect than an EMP could. This new Killstreak does damage and covers an area in smoke while affecting players’ movement and vision.

“For us it really kinda came out of the old EMP killstreak,” Smith said. “It’s really hard to convey this electromagnetic pulse that disrupts maybe your HUD. So it wasn’t like a set change or a mood change, the stakes had changed for us.”


Smith also pointed out that previous games had a nuke in them but didn’t seem to attract the same controversy that White Phosphorus has.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare releases for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC platforms on October 25th.

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