The upcoming Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II — not a remake of 2009’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, but rather a sequel to 2019’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, the reboot of the original 2007 Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare — will have a Formula 1-themed multiplayer map. It’s called “Marina Bay Grand Prix,” and wouldn’t you know it looks mighty familiar.
Those who follow F1 may know that the Marina Bay Street Circuit plays host to the Singapore Grand Prix, a mainstay on the series’ calendar since 2008. Call of Duty developer Infinity Ward hasn’t just created a generic amalgamation of different races here; it’s literally staging a battle on the grounds of the Singapore race. And it really is Singapore, not some made-up country or city. The only thing that’s missing is F1’s branding. Are you surprised it’s nowhere to be found?
If we zoom in on the garage here, we can even see a circuit map that very closely resembles the one belonging to the real-life Marina Bay venue.
The skirmish looks to take place while the track is still live. That doesn’t really make sense, but we’re talking about Call of Duty, a franchise that once set a military conflict at a transit centre where players could be run over by trains arriving at regular intervals. It’s unclear if running F1 cars will present a similar environmental hazard on this map, though I’d bet on it based on the teaser footage.
We’re also talking about F1, a sport that earlier this year decided to follow through with a race in Saudi Arabia despite a missile strike on an oil refinery 16 km from the track. Many drivers wanted to boycott the event, but they were eventually swayed otherwise when informed of “the possible consequences of not racing, such as how easily teams and drivers would be able to leave the country if the race did not happen,” per a BBC report at the time.
That whole episode made F1 look really bad, which is why I wouldn’t be at all surprised if F1 decided to challenge Call of Duty publisher Activision over the existence of this map. For the most part there’s no legal barrier against recreating a real place in a video game, so long as the place in question isn’t a private property, or doesn’t involve a copyrighted work or entity. That can even include architecture or a sporting event.
Sometimes publishers can dance around the red tape. Up until 2013, Gran Turismo included the Circuit de Monaco in unlicensed form, called “Côte d’Azur.” Then again, sometimes they can’t. More than a decade ago Sony pulled a completed track from the release version of Gran Turismo 5, called Piazza del Campo, that was set in the Italian city square of the same name after the local government threatened legal action.
For what it’s worth, Activision is very much leaning into the bit. There must be quite a few F1 fans in Infinity Ward’s studios:
We understand that, with our agreement, @infinityward have announced they designed a Grand Prix map as a part of the #MWII Beta. This is right, and the map will be playable for the 2022 Beta. We will be playing on Grand Prix in #MWII this year. pic.twitter.com/8kbaSEkChU
— Call of Duty (@CallofDuty) August 7, 2022
Modern Warfare II is scheduled to release on October 28.
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