The Call of Duty franchise has a hefty history of including offensive content. Whether it’s the murder of civilians in an airport terminal, the deeply visceral torture of enemy captives, or the rewriting of historical events to shift blame, Activision has come under fire many a time for the content it has allowed to be included in the game. Vanguard is proving to be par for the course in that regard. Pages of the Muslim holy book the Quran have been removed from the game and an apology has been issued after they were left strewn about the floor in a Zombies map where players could walk on them.
The removal of the content and a following apology was offered via the Call of Duty Middle East Twitter on November 11, 2021. As mentioned, one of the Call of Duty: Vanguard Zombies maps included pages of the Quran strewn about on the ground with the text, “in the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.” The Quran being left on the ground is incredibly offensive and, after being called out by quite a few people, Activision finally removed the content.
In addition to removal of the Quran from the Zombies map, an apology was issued in Arabic on the Call of Duty Middle East Twitter.
“Call of Duty is made for everyone,” the tweet reads, roughly translated. “There was content insensitive to Muslims included in the game, and it has been removed. It was not supposed to exist as it appeared in the game. We deeply apologize. We are also taking all necessary measures at this moment within the company to determine and understand the situation and to avoid such errors in the future.”
The apology and removal seems like a unique concession from Activision. For one, the apology doesn’t appear on any channels but the Call of Duty Middle East one (it’s not posted or retweeted on the global Call of Duty Twitter at this time of writing). Furthermore, many may recall the previous Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War quietly censored footage of Tiananmen Square while 2019's Modern Warfare included revisionist history about Russians bombing the infamous Highway of Death between Kuwait and Iraq in 1991 (an operation actually led by the U.S. military).
Activision also continues to face a number of controversies inside its own offices. The removal of offensive use of Quran pages in Call of Duty: Vanguard is no doubt something that should have happened, but it’s one issue among many regarding both Activision and the Call of Duty series.