‘Now is not the time’: Video game makers announce delays

Daniel Howley
Technology Editor

With protests over police brutality and racial inequality continuing across the country, video game publishers and developers are putting content updates on hold and postponing major product announcements.

On Tuesday, Activision Blizzard’s (ATVI) official “Call of Duty” Twitter account announced that it will not release an update for its wildly-popular console and PC title or its mobile game that were originally scheduled for debut on June 3.

Protests began around the country after video emerged of a Minneapolis police officer kneeling on George Floyd’s neck for nearly 10 minutes, killing him. The video, coupled with similar police-involved killings, sparked outrage across the nation, leading to widespread demonstrations. 

Protesters gather at a memorial for George Floyd where he died outside Cup Foods on East 38th Street and Chicago Avenue, Monday, June 1, 2020, in Minneapolis. Protests continued following the death of Floyd, who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

“While we all look forward to playing the new seasons of Modern Warfare, Warzone and Call of Duty: Mobile, now is not the time,” a tweet posted to the game’s account on Monday read.

“Right now is the time for those speaking up for equality, justice and change to be seen and heard,” the post continued. 

“Call of Duty: Warzone” has been a smash hit for Activision Blizzard, drawing more than 60 million players as of May since it launched in early March. The latest update was set to introduce major story changes to the game, and will eventually be released, though there’s no word on when just yet.

Activision Blizzard itself also posted support for social change and the Black Lives Matter movement via its own Twitter account.

In addition to the “Call of Duty” delay, EA (EA) on Sunday announced that it was postponing news about its upcoming “Madden 21.” The announcement was to take place on Monday, and feature the unveiling of Raven’s quarterback Lamar Jackson as this year’s cover athlete. The “Madden” franchise is a stalwart for EA. Last week the company revealed that it signed a contract with the NFL to continue the franchise through 2025.

Sony (SNE), meanwhile, was scheduled to host a June 4 showcase of upcoming titles for its highly-anticipated, next-generation console, the PlayStation 5

The company, however, has decided to postpone the announcement, writing in a tweet on its official PlayStation account, “While we understand gamers worldwide are excited to see PS5 games, we do not feel that right now is the time for celebration and for now, we want to stand back and allow more important voices to be heard.”

The PlayStation 5 is Sony’s follow up to the PlayStation 4, and while the PS4 has clobbered competitors like Microsoft and Nintendo in terms of sales this generation, the company has been criticized for not offering enough information about the upcoming console. Microsoft, for its part, has already shown off the design of its next-generation console, the Xbox Series X.

Microsoft’s (MSFT) Xbox Twitter account favorited a tweet by Sony denouncing racial inequality, while Microsoft’s main Twitter account posted tweets featuring the voices of African American Microsoft employees speaking out on what they want to see from the current protest.

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