The US Army halted a planned sponsorship with Activision Blizzard’s Call of Duty esports league after allegations of Activision’s workplace culture of harassment and discrimination came to light last year, according to documents obtained by Vice.
The Army wasn’t the only organization taking another look at its plans with Activision at the time; sponsors, including Coca-Cola and State Farm, were also reevaluating their support of the Overwatch League. The Verge reached out to sponsors listed on the Call of Duty League and the Overwatch League websites for comment in August 2021, and as observed by Kotaku reporter Ethan Gach, our inquiry to the Army appeared in the documents as part of a broader discussion about “the brand reputation issue.”
The documents, which Vice obtained via the Freedom of Information Act, also detailed the Army’s plans to sponsor things like esports tournaments, streamers, and events as part of its efforts to reach Gen Z. I really recommend you read Vice’s article and scroll through the documents yourself, as they are an interesting look at the Army’s extensive plans to try and recruit Gen Z through esports and gaming.
Gaming is an area where the Army has focused its efforts for some time, though it has occasionally run into trouble. It’s also proven divisive with lawmakers; in 2020, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-NY) proposed ban against US military recruiting on Twitch failed a House vote.