The debut trailer for Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War has been blocked in China, and subsequently edited everywhere else, after featuring around one second’s worth of footage from the Communist government’s crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in 1989.
When the game was first announced last week, a trailer running for 2:02 was released to the world and hosted on the official Call of Duty and Xbox YouTube pages, along with major trailer sites like IGN and Gamespot.
On August 21, however, the videos on Call of Duty and Xbox’s YouTube pages were replaced with a much shorter, 1:00 version. This isn’t an additional trailer, it’s a replacement, which we know because...the original 2:02 video we embedded in our own story is no longer working, having been marked as “private”.
Nobody really noticed the switch when it took place, but Hong Kong news site Apple Daily and the South China Morning Post point out that it was definitely noticed in China, where the original trailer was swiftly blocked (it has since been replaced with the edited version) and a lot of people recognised the Tiananmen Square footage and began commenting online.
Here’s the original 2:02 clip, which is still available on both IGN and Gamespot:
The footage in question can be seen at 1:05, part of a longer montage showing various other historical examples of civil unrest in the 1980s, with a group of students attacking an armoured vehicle:
The new 1:00 trailer, meanwhile, which is now the only Black Ops Cold War trailer on both the Call of Duty and Xbox channels, does not feature that Chinese footage:
I can understand releasing an edited trailer in China, because the CCP’s strict controls over foreign media (and local support of this) is the price you pay for doing business there, but changing everyone’s trailer is a bit much.
Though this is also the part where we mention that Chinese gaming giant Tencent has a 5% stake in Activision, the publishers of Call of Duty.
It’s not the first time Call of Duty’s content has attracted the attention of Chinese censors. Back in 2018, Black Ops 2 was banned from internet cafes when government officials realised the game featured the bombing of a Chinese city.