Once the trailer was removed, the team behind the trailer set to work making things right. To most people, that might mean creating a separate video that can get past the CCP’s rigorous censorship laws, but what happened with this trailer was slightly different.
The entire trailer was taken down from the official Call of Duty YouTube channel and replaced with a much shorter one that has deleted the footage of Tiananmen Square. This is painfully obvious, as the original trailer measured in at 2:02 in length, whilst the new version is only 1:00 in length.
So, whilst it’s understandable that the Chinese version of the trailer is changed, why is it necessary for the official version on Call of Duty and Xbox’s main channels to be changed as well?
Realistically, the answer could range from a few different possibilities. It could be that marketing executives want to collect global stats on one video alone for reporting or future use, and this is the easiest way to do it. Or it could be that a shorter video aligns better with the goal of the teaser trailer itself.
One worrying possibility that presents itself though is that the huge Chinese media and gaming company own a five percent stake in Activision itself. This could mean that Activision has had pressure piled on it from its Chinese investors to pull their footage, rather than invoke the ire of the CCP, which could lead to lower profit margins in the region when they try to publish there in the future.
This wouldn’t be the first time that Activision-Blizzard has been at the center of controversy surrounding Chinese media manipulation and censorship. Remember in October last year, when Hong Kong native Chung Ng Wai (or ‘Blitzchung’, to give him his screen name) voiced his support for the Hong Kong demonstrations, and in response Blizzard banned the player for a year (denying him thousands of dollars in prize money) and fired the commentators who conducted his interview.
This is just the latest in the history of Activision and Activision-Blizzard’s co-operation in Chinese censorship even outside of Chinese jurisdiction, and it will be interesting to see how the companies navigate and react to public reactions to their decisions in the coming months.