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The dog was originally showcased towards the end of the Xbox One reveal conference on May 21st, 2013. During Activision’s presentation of Call of Duty: Ghosts, an exclusive title for the upcoming console, they briefly revisited a canine character from Modern Warfare 3 before introducing the latest canine character as “a member of the team” who aids by sniffing out dangers throughout the missions. The dog was rendered with motion capture technology and modeled after a former member of the Navy SEAL K9 squad.
The announcement quickly became a subject of parodies on Twitter, with video-game blog Kotaku editor Kirk Hamilton stating that the announcement of in-game dogs arrived shortly after the developers stated that they wanted to do “the right thing”.
“We didn’t want to do the safe thing, we wanted to do the RIGHT thing,” says guy making the new Call of Duty, before revealing in-game dogs— Kirk Hamilton (@kirkhamilton) May 21, 2013
Later that same day, a novelty Twitter account for the Call of Duty Dog was launched under the handle @CollarDuty, which gained more than 21,000 followers in its first week.
So glad that the cat is finally out of the bag. My big break is finally revealed #woof— Call of Duty Dog (@CollarDuty) May 21, 2013
On May 23rd, Redditor Auto_aim1 submitted a post titled “This should be Call of Duty: Ghosts cover”, featuring a photoshopped image of the Call of Duty: Ghosts boxart that included an image of a dog (shown below, far left). The post has received over 1,600 upvotes in five days. Throughout that week, numerous other parodies of the Call of Duty boxart emerged via /r/gaming subreddit.
Gameplay Footage Released
On June 9th, 2013, gameplay footage of the Call of Duty: Ghosts mission “No Man’s Land” was presented at the 2013 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), which featured the canine unit “Riley” as a playable character (shown below). In the video, the player assumes the role of the German Shepherd in first-person perspective through a back-mounted camera to scout ahead in dangerous locations, mark enemy targets and lunge at enemies’ throats. The preview footage was generally met by positive reviews, with Time Magazine calling the dog “incredible” and Kotaku suggesting that the character “might steal the show” in the upcoming title.
Infinity Ward Response
On June 11th, 2013, the video game news blog Escapist published an article which quoted Infinity Ward Executive Producer Mark Ruben claiming the company had “no clue” that the public would react so strongly to the Riley character. The article also quoted community manager Tina Palacious, who revealed that the game’s development team was evenly split on whether or not the dog should die in the plot of the game.