The debut trailer for the new Call of Duty game seemingly distances itself from publisher Activision, amid ongoing allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination at the company.
Call of Duty: Vanguard premiered on Thursday with a three-minute trailer. Curiously, the video opens with “Call of Duty presents” instead of ‘Activision presents’, which is then followed by “a Sledgehammer Games production” slate.
More telling is the trailer’s end slate, which includes logos for lead developer Sledgehammer and support studios Treyarch and Beenox, but not their parent company.
There’s no Activision logo at all in the trailer, unlike last year’s Call of Duty announcement video which prominently displayed the badge of its publisher. The only mention of Activision in the Vanguard video is in the legally required copyright small print.
It’s possible that Activision Blizzard is attempting to distance itself from its key brand during a period where the company’s reputation has been severely tarnished by numerous allegations of wrongdoing.
Last month the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard, which accuses the company of failing to handle sexual harassment and discrimination complaints.
The lawsuit, and Activision Blizzard’s subsequent response, led to a staff walkout accompanied by an open letter signed by thousands of current and former employees.
Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick claimed during an earnings call this month that the company will “set the example” on how to handle sexual harassment and discrimination in the games industry, but its own shareholders have called this response “inadequate”.
SOC Investment Group, which owns shares in Activision Blizzard, sent a letter to the company’s lead independent director stating that CEO Bobby Kotick‘s response to the lawsuit and its subsequent employee backlash does “not go nearly far enough” to address the issues involved.
Call of Duty: Vanguard developer Sledgehammer Games addressed the situation in an interview with VentureBeat this week.
Asked how Sledgehammer was supporting its staff during the lawsuit, studio head Aaron Halon said: “We make sure we’re listening to our team and doing everything we possibly can to move things forward, to make the culture the best place to come work.”
He added: “Rather than paying lip service, we have to just continue to do it, make sure we’re focused on our culture and focused on our team. Above all, that’s the most important thing for a healthy studio. You create that, you get creative people together, and the results are going to follow that.”