As protests against police brutality and racial injustice spread across the U.S. and the world over the past week, many companies have issued statements expressing support for the Black Lives Matter movement. In the games industry, the seriousness of the statements and associated pledges for action have varied from company to company, but few have followed their words in-game gestures. Now, developers Infinity Ward have.
As reported by The Verge, Infinity Ward has pushed updates to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Call of Duty: Warzone on all platforms that add a new statement to splash screens and loading screens. Under an all-caps header that reads "Black Lives Matter," this statement follows:
Our community is hurting. The systemic inequalities our community experiences are once again center stage. Call of Duty and Infinity Ward stand for equality and inclusion. We stand against the racism and injustice our Black community endures. Until change happens and Black Lives Matter, we will never truly be the community we strive to be.
This is not the first step Infinity Ward has taken out of respect for the protest movement this week, though it is likely that it will be seen by many more players by virtue of being included in-game. New seasons of content for Modern Warfare, Warzone, and Mobile were set to launch earlier this week, but on Tuesday the official Call of Duty Twitter account announced that those updates would be delayed as it's now "time for those speaking up for equality, justice and change to be heard."
Call of Duty's publisher Activision Blizzard also released a short statement with a nod to the Black Lives Matter movement over the weekend. Some have responded to that particular gesture with pushback and skepticism given Activision Blizzard's handling of how Hearthstone player Chung "Blitzchung" Ng Wai advocated for anti-government protests in Hong Kong during a Blizzard esports event last year. Blitzchung was temporarily suspended from pro play and had his recent winnings withheld (Blizzard later reduced the punishment). In the immediate wake of that controversy, other esports-focused companies like Riot also warned players to avoid political topics on-air.