The 'Medal of Honor' Beard Cover Interview

In early December, EA revealed the cover for its Medal of Honor reboot and all anyone could say was: "BEARD!" Well, after months of trying to get an explanation of how that grizzly (Adams) decision went down, Craig Owens, director of marketing at EA Los Angeles, has finally delivered the answers. Here are the declassified details of our exchange:

Joystiq: How did you select the cover image for the Medal of Honor reboot?

Craig Owens: What you see today as the key art (or box front image) is the result of a long process that's been going on for nearly a year now. When we set out to reboot the Medal of Honor franchise, we knew that the key art of the new game had to accomplish two very important things. First, it needed to stay true to the authenticity that the brand is known for. Secondly, it had to be unexpected not only for the brand but also for the shooter genre. After several months of reviewing many, many concepts, it wasn't until this past summer that the new face of Medal of Honor was born. During an agency pitch meeting with several creative agencies, our current partner – Ignition Creative based in Santa Monica, California – revealed a concept, using a photographed model with this real, epic beard. That concept was nearly identical to the final image you see today. When the development and marketing team first saw it, we immediately knew that was our guy. He was authentic to a Tier 1 Operator and unexpected for both MOH and the current characters out there in the gaming space.

Are you surprised by the reaction to the beard?

We always thought the beard had the potential to be an iconic element of our key art and of the reboot of Medal of Honor. It's been fun reading the many comments online and we are excited that most gamers are reacting as positively as they are. It's also been interesting to follow the "Is this guy real?" threads which have activated the military enthusiasts (and even active military) to jump into the conversation and confirm that this Tier 1 Operator does indeed exist and that his "look" is authentic to these real soldiers.

Who is the model, and is he based on this "Cowboy" soldier as speculated?

As you suggest, the soldier depicted in the Medal of Honor key art is in fact a model. Based on several discussions with our real-life Tier 1 Operator consultants early in the creative process, we discussed what kind of weapons and gear they typically use on their operations. We also searched the internet for any imagery around these elite soldiers and quickly found out that it was difficult to find anything significant with most images of these elite soldiers blurred out. The image that some gamers are posting on the boards -- this speculated "Cowboy" soldier -- was an image that did come up in our online search. After a short time, it was clear that many of these soldiers chose to grow out their beards to better blend in with the locals. Once we found our model, we worked very closely with our Tier 1 Operator consultants to make sure the uniform, gear, weapon, and beard were as authentic as possible. The result is the authentic representation of the Tier 1 Operator that we released during our announcement earlier this month.

Will the bearded soldier on the game box be in the game?

Absolutely. In fact, the executive producer of Medal of Honor -- Greg Goodrich -- confirmed this in his Q&A about the announce trailer that aired during the Spike VGAs in December where he stated, "The character on our box cover was not featured in our first trailer. But I can confirm that he is indeed a character in our game and will be revealed (along with his highly skilled and very specialized Tier 1 unit) in the near future." Be sure to check out the new website, to get all the latest information.