New Call Of Duty Trailer Censored In China Over Tiananmen Square Footage – Forbes

TOPLINE

Activision Blizzard, one of the world’s biggest video game companies, once again finds itself entangled in Chinese politics after the country censored a teaser trailer for the next entry in its blockbuster first-person shooter series Call of Duty, which featured a second-long clip of the Tiananmen Square protests.

KEY FACTS

Premiering on August 19, the trailer for Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War features historical clips of the conflict narrated by Soviet KGB defector Yuri Bezmenov, one of them being the 1989 student-led protest in Beijing.

On video platforms in China, the segment of the trailer was replaced with a black screen, and Activision Blizzard on August 21 released a shorter version of the trailer that did not include the scene.

The U.S. game company, which also develops World of Warcraft and Overwatch, found itself mired in controversy last fall after it banned a pro Hearthstone player for his pro-Hong Kong statements during a broadcast.

The decision sparked outrage from fans and even elicited a letter from a bipartisan group of U.S. Congress members, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).

The Chinese game market is one of the largest in the world, and telecom giant Tencent owns a 5% stake in Activision Blizzard, among numerous other investments across the industry.

Call of Duty, and especially the Black Ops entries, tell alternative geopolitical histories, with its 2019 reboot Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, which promoted itself as a stark, realistic portrayal of war, sparking controversy by essentially blaming a real-life U.S. military incident called the “Highway of Death” on Russia.

Surprising Fact

In 2018, internet cafes in one Chinese province were ordered to ban the 2012 entry Call of Duty: Black Ops II because it featured a fictional World War II bombing of Tiananmen Square, according to the South China Morning Post.

Key Background

In 1989, students protesting for more autonomy under the Chinese government were attacked by the military, with hundreds to thousands estimated to have been killed. Discussions of the event are highly regulated and censored within the country. A photo of a single protester standing before a line of tanks has become an iconic image of the protests.

Big Number

Call of Duty is one of the most popular video game franchises ever. Over 300 million games have been sold since 2019, and Modern Warfare broke franchise records, likely in part due to the release of its battle royale game mode Warzone at the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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