Amid Heated Gun Rhetoric, Activision's 'Call of Duty' Marches On

Expansion Pack for $1 Billion Franchise Launches With New Assault Rifle

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Game publisher Activision is seemingly unfazed by the national conversation surrounding gun violence and the insinuations that violent media may have played a role in it. This week the company released a comedic trailer for "Revolution," an expansion pack to the recently released "Call of Duty II: Black Ops II," that includes four new maps, the ability to play as zombies and a new weapon, the Peacekeeper hybrid SMG assault rifle.

"Call of Duty: Black Ops II" launched Nov. 13 to massive sales, grossing $1 billion worldwide in just 15 days. Offering bonus content months after a game's initial release is a common tactic among developers hoping to keep gameplay time from dwindling.

The release, available Jan. 29 on Xbox Live, comes at a sensitive time. Since the original game was released, 20 children were killed in the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., and the debate over a possible link between violent video games and real-life violence has again vaulted into the public consciousness.

The National Rifle Association, looking to deflect some of the heat it was receiving, quickly offered up violent video games as a likely explanation for the Newtown massacre one week after the mass-shooting occurred.

Activision declined to comment, but said its data indicate "Call of Duty"'s penetration rate in the U.S. is similar to that of other countries, including the U.K., where gun violence is far less prevalent.

Meanwhile, a recent Washington Post study showed no correlation between the incidence of gun violence among various countries and their per-capita spending on video games. And in 2011, the California Supreme Court struck down a law restricting sales of violent video games, saying psycho- logical studies did not prove such exposure causes minors to act aggressively.

The White House is exploring the idea of whether there's a causal connection between virtual and real-life violence. Last week, President Barack Obama asked Congress to grant $10 million to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct research on the relationship between "video games, media images and violence." Prior to the president's press conference, Vice President Joe Biden met with leaders from the video-game industry to discuss media violence. Activision was in attendance.

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