Unfortunately, an affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, has destroyed real-world Petraeus’ military career. There are even allegations the tryst may have compromised national security. Petraeus resigned his post last week. The latest Call of Duty launched November 13, 2012, so the timing is not great.
A couple of weeks ago, the seemingly straight-laced general looked like a perfect military hero to include. Black Ops II uses historical figures for a realistic feel. That is, as realistic as a military shooter with battle mechs can be. The game contains a mission featuring deposed Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, an ally to the CIA before becoming a war criminal. Black Ops II also calls a villain the most dangerous terrorist since Osama bin Laden.
Lieut. Col. Oliver North appears in the shooter and is featured prominently in its ad campaign. He served as adviser on the game, providing his voice and likeness. Petraeus’ role is a small one, which doesn’t even use his real voice. Impressionist Jim Meskimen portrays the general. Still, Activision felt compelled to release a statement saying his career merited inclusion in the game.
Industry analyst Michael Pachter told The Hollywood Reporter the scandal may actually drive sales. He believes “any incremental publicity is good.” Activision learned something about the unpredictability of celebrity endorsements in 2011. Allegations that New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski had a spring break fling with a 16-year-old girl surfaced just as he was involved in a Modern Warfare 3 promotion.