Call of Duty: Vanguard was officially announced yesterday, the first major Activision Blizzard reveal since the corporation came under public scrutiny for its abhorrent treatment of female employees. A minor detail in the reveal video has some speculating that Activision is keen to avoid reminding everyone it’s involved in the game’s development.
This strange phenomenon was first noticed by Twitter user Neoxon619, who pointed out that the end of the Call of Duty: Vanguard trailer didn’t include an Activision logo alongside those for developing studios Sledgehammer Games, Treyarch, and Beenox. In fact, the video doesn’t mention Activision anywhere but in the legally required, small-print copyright information.
A quick examination of previous reveal trailers on the series’ official YouTube page shows that a prominent Activision logo has been present as far back as the announcement video for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, which was first uploaded to the channel on May 23, 2011.
Neoxon also highlighted the fact that Activision’s logo is missing from the Call of Duty: Vanguard page on Battle.net, the company’s digital storefront. Again, Kotaku confirmed this is a common inclusion on several of the platform’s Call of Duty listings, where Activision’s graphic can be seen positioned above the logos for games like Modern Warfare, Black Ops: Cold War, and Black Ops 4.
“Call of Duty has continued to expand into an incredible universe of experiences,” an Activision rep told Kotaku. “This was a creative choice that reflects how Vanguard represents the next major installment in the franchise.”
Activision Blizzard is still embroiled in controversy following a lawsuit filed by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing that accused the massive corporation of fostering an environment of harassment and abuse targeted mainly at female employees for years. Since then, several notable figures have departed the company, including Blizzard president J. Allen Brack, Blizzard head of human relations Jesse Meschuk, and Diablo 4 lead designer Jesse McCree.
The omission of Activision logos from Call of Duty: Vanguard marketing has been roundly mocked on social media as a cowardly distancing of the game from the publisher’s involvement.
“If this doesn’t show you how terrified Activision is for the lawsuit,” wrote one user in response to Neoxon’s original tweet, “then I’m not sure what to tell you.”
Update 09/07/21, 6:02 p.m. ET: Activision’s logo is back front and center in the latest Call of Duty: Vanguard trailer, which shows off some of the upcoming game’s multiplayer features.