Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is probably getting a battle royale. At least, that’s if you’ve been following the leaked photos, trailers, and unintentionally-revealed menu options that have been popping up lately. Naturally, Activision are a bit miffed over these leaks. The publisher has taken a scorched-earth approach to stamping out these rumours – slamming takedown notices against leaked shots and issuing a subpoena against Reddit to get to the bottom of Call of Duty’s worst-kept secret.
If Activision weren’t planning on cultivating a battle royale rumour-mill, they’ve done an awful job of it. That Season 2 of Modern Warfare arrived with a “confidential” menu item doesn’t even scratch the surface – VGC reports that players have found their way into a massive environment full of popular Call of Duty locations, much like Black Ops 4‘s own battle royale map.
One of the more telling pieces of evidence was an image posted by Redditor Assyrian241O, claiming they “found this image online. Not sure what it is. Possibly Battle Royale.”
They’ve since deleted their account and the image has scrubbed from Reddit – but once something hits the internet, there’s no putting it back in the bag. The image below, reposted by Twitter user Carson J Kelly (via Eurogamer), shows several gruff gunmen atop a crashed helicopter with the title Call of Duty: Warzone.
CALL OF DUTY WARZONE THE NEXT CHAPTER OF THE CALL OF DUTY FRANCHISE pic.twitter.com/tXW912vhqM
— CARSON J KELLY (@CARSONJKELLY) February 12, 2020
Activision haven’t been taking these leaks too well. There’s the usual response, of course – removing videos and images from the internet, including a YouTube clip of a player wrangling their way into the mode’s tutorial. A megathread collecting every known leak now notes that Activision have filed copyright against the “majority of the source material” linked in the thread, and forced the removal of all images in the post.
It’s a dense thread, even in its chopped-up state. The post hints at many Apex Legends-style features, from pings and respawns to the idea of a “jumpmaster” who controls the team’s flight path.
TorrentFreak reports that the publishers have gone even further, issuing a subpeona against Assyrian241O. This would require Reddit to share their personal details so that, I’d assume, Activision could take harsher actions against the leaker – and whoever gave them the saucy information.
Activision are understandably within their right to protect their launch. They’d rather release Warzone, or whatever it is they’re cooking up, on their own terms. But this mess has hardly earned the publishers much goodwill. Commenting on the megathread, Reddit user DougDagnabbit feels Activision have handled the situation in the “worst way possible”.
“I’m sure they didn’t intend on any of this to happen, but the public opinion of them has definitely gone down since everything started, and everyone knows the current public opinion on Activision isn’t exactly great.”
It’s perhaps unlikely that Activision will be successful in their subpeona. Last year, as Gizmodo reports, the “Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society” tried a similar trick to try and identify an anonymous user posting damning religious works on the site. Courts back then found that, as an American site, Reddit users are protected by the First Amendment’s right to anonymous free speech.
After all this, though, I’m definitely convinced that Warzone doesn’t exist. Absolutely certain. Totally sure. Yup.