Activision-Blizzard has tapped America's favorite mayor to help defend its "Call of Duty" franchise from former Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega.
Bracewell Giuliani will represent the company in its defense against claims by the former ruler that the videogame publisher unlawfully used his image for monetary gain. And leading the charge is former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, who will serve as co-council on the defense team. His first step: Filing a motion to dismiss the lawsuit Monday morning in the Superior Court of the State of California.
"What's astonishing is that Manuel Noriega, a notorious dictator who is in prison for the heinous crimes he committed, is upset about being portrayed as a criminal and enemy of the state in the game Call of Duty. Quite simply, it's absurd," said Giuliani in a statement. "I'm not interested in giving handouts to a convicted murderer and drug smuggler...who is demanding money from Activision...for simply exercising its right to free speech."
Noriega is seeking a share of the profits from "Call of Duty: Black Ops II" as well as damages, claiming that the use of his likeness in the game was an effort "to increase the popularity and revenue." (Noriega appeared in the title as both an in-game character and one who appeared in news clips throughout the game.)
The "Call of Duty" series has been the industry's top franchise since 2007, with each installment earning over $1 billion. "Black Ops II," released in 2012, topped $1 billion in sales in just two weeks upon its release. The game raised some eyebrows at the time for its fictional casting of former CIA director David Petraeus as the secretary of defense in 2025. (Development of the game was completed long before the sex scandal surrounding Petraeus broke.) The game also featured former Lt. Col. Oliver North, who was an adviser during the game's creation and provided in-game voice-acting.
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Having Giuliani, who made his reputation battling organized crime and corruption in the 1980s, leading the charge against Noriega's claims is likely to focus more media attention on the case—and the franchise, which will release its next installment in early November.