Call of Duty: Vanguard came under fire after players discovered pages of the Quran scattered on the floor in its Zombies mode map. Activision has apologised and said the content has now been removed, while acknowledging that it never should have appeared in the FPS game to begin with.
On November 10, an Arabic-speaking Twitter user posted images from Vanguard’s Der Anfang Zombies map that showed various documents scattered across the floor. These include several pages from the Islamic holy text, spattered in blood and placed in areas where players and zombies are free to walk on them.
Publisher Activision released a statement to Dexerto today acknowledging the disrespectful content. “Call of Duty is made for everyone,” the company said. “There was insensitive content to the Muslim community mistakenly included last week, and has since been removed from the game. It should never have appeared as it did in-game. We deeply apologise. We are taking immediate steps internally to address the situation to prevent such occurrences in the future.”
This isn’t the first time Call of Duty has crossed a line like this, however. In 2012, the Favela map was removed from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 after players discovered a quote attributed to the Prophet Muhammad on the wall in a restroom. The most recent Modern Warfare reimagines the ‘Highway of Death’ – a name which in reality refers to an actual, real-world attack by US marines on a convoy of 2,000 Iraqi civilian vehicles during the Persian Gulf war – as an act committed by the Russian forces players are fighting.
يا اخوان انا اشوف صفحات من القران في الارض في خريطة Zombie ارى انه يجب ان تزال باسرع وقت اذا كانت صحيحة @playstationsa @CallofdutyARA#Vanguard #PS5Share, #CallofDutyVanguard pic.twitter.com/1WZLsMYbML
— ᴮᴷᵀᴼᴼᴿ (@BKTO0R) November 10, 2021
Activision posted a public statement on the Call of Duty Middle East Twitter account.
— Call of Duty Middle East (@CallofDutyARA) November 11, 2021
A machine translation provides roughly the same statement as quoted above:
We’ve reached out to Activision for additional comment.
Activision Blizzard is facing a lawsuit filed in July by the state of California (since expanded for QA and customer service contractors) alleging years of discrimination and harassment. Since then, CEO Bobby Kotick has called the company’s initial response “tone deaf”, employees have staged a walkout, Blizzard president J Allen Brack has left, and the ABK Workers Alliance has demanded change at the company. The lawsuit is ongoing; follow the latest developments here. In September, an agency of the US federal government opened an investigation into Activision Blizzard’s response to sexual misconduct and discrimination complaints from its employees, as part of which Kotick has reportedly been subpoenaed. The company is also facing a separate unfair labour practice suit alleging “worker intimidation and union busting” filed by a workers’ union, also in September. In another, separate development, Activision Blizzard reached an agreement with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission “to settle claims and to further strengthen policies and programs to prevent harassment and discrimination”. In a subsequent letter to employees, the company has announced an end to forced arbitration, a $250 million initiative to improve diversity, and a major pay cut for Kotick.