I hope the irony of releasing a game with the tagline, “Know your history or be doomed to repeat it,” isn’t lost on you in this situation. I’m sure it’s not and, if I can say anything positive about this, I understand the reasoning behind this latest controversy. You’re a business, I get that. You need to make as much money as possible and certain markets are far more lucrative than others. Yet that doesn’t take away from the fact that removing real-life footage of Tiananmen Square just to have the trailer for Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War shown in China is more than a little spineless.
So to catch everyone up, Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War was both confirmed and teased last week. The brief trailer for the game focused on the Soviet policy of “Active Measures” which was a real life strategy for unsettling and destabilising nations it thought to be too powerful. Now, the trailer itself was pretty cool actually and used an abundance of actual footage from during the Cold War to lend some credentials for their game inspired by real world events.
One such clip was of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, which saw hundreds, potentially thousands, of Chinese protestors gunned down by the military. It was a horrific event, one that is largely censored in China because I have to imagine they have to be pretty embarrassed by the whole “killing citizens in cold blood” situation.
Once the Black Ops: Cold War trailer got out there, China was quick to ban it with some Chinese users accusing Activision of “exporting ideology” and placing “politics in video games”, according to PC Gamer. Can you imagine? A game set during the Cold War having politics? Really, game designers. Stay in your lane, this is just outrageous.
Activision was quick to respond to the ban, releasing a “censored” version of the trailer for China, according to Vice, which really just blacked the footage of Tiananmen Square. Fine, fair enough. Play by Chinese rules in China, even if they’re not all that great. Yet where it gets super shady is when you realize Activision quietly took down the original trailer and uploaded the new version that’s edited out the Tiananmen Square footage entirely. You can still find the original video on YouTube channels like Gamespot and IGN but the only version on the official Call of Duty channel is now the edited down one.
It’s just one of those disappointing cases of irony. A game that’s pushing the mantra of “Know Your History” has had its message, one that’s seemingly more relevant to this particular incident than anything, pushed aside for the sake of, presumably, making more money. Poor form, Activision. Let’s please not have another Blitzchung debacle?
Last Updated: August 26, 2020