We have no doubt that the airport scene in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 actually helped sales.
The bottom line is that controversy sells, and because DICE is going for a super authentic look in Battlefield 3 , many have assumed the developers are banking on the "controversy angle" to net higher sales. But as executive producer Patrick Bach told Edge , they're not trying to utilize "any political or religious conflict" for financial gain. Said Bach:
"Our goal isn’t to make controversy. I don’t want people to feel bad playing our game. Our goal is to create a fun, entertaining experience. So we are trying to stay away from things that are real – authentic and real don’t have to be the same thing."
Bach admits that controversy is "probably a good marketing tool," but he insists that authenticity won't necessarily translate to a mass media outrage. Battlefield 3 may contribute to the ongoing violent video game debate but as for artificially inflating sales with questionable content, that really isn't DICE's aim.
They will, however, need some pretty hefty marketing to compete with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 . Good thing the latter comes out two weeks after BF3, so it isn't exactly head-to-head.
Related Game(s): Battlefield 3