Activision Deletes And Replaces 'Call Of Duty' Trailer Worldwide Over 1 Second That Hurt China's Feelings

from the bow-down dept

While China-bashing is all the rage right now (much of it deserved given the country's abhorrent human rights practices), it's sort of amazing what a difference a year makes. While the current focus of ire towards the Chinese government seems focused on the COVID-19 pandemic and a few mobile dance apps, never mind the fully embedded nature of Chinese-manufactured technology in use every day in the West, late 2019 was all about China's translucent skin. Much of that had to do with China's inching towards a slow takeover of Hong Kong and how several corporate interests in the West reacted to it. Does anyone else remember when our discussion about China was dominated by stories dealing with Blizzard banning Hearthstone players for supporting Hong Kong and American professional sports leagues looking like cowards in the face of a huge economic market?

Yeah, me neither. But with all that is going on the world and all of the criticism, deserved or otherwise, being lobbed at the Chinese government, it's worth pointing out that the problems of last year are still going on. And, while Google most recently took something of a stand against the aggression on Hong Kong specifically, other companies are still bowing to China's thin-skin in heavy-handed ways. The latest example of this is an admittedly relatively trivial attempt by Activision to kneel at the altar of Chinese historical censorship.

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”.

So here's the, ahem, tik-tok on this. Activision, which also owns Blizzard, releases a new trailer for a new Call of Duty game. That trailer includes a single second of an image from Chinese protests against the government from three decades ago. The Chinese government, true to form, flips the fuck out and bans the trailer entirely. One imagines there were also threats of banning the game entirely, but that is yet to be confirmed. Activision then, seeing the Chinese government go full carpet bomb over the trailer in its country, decides to try to out-carpet-bomb the carpet bomb by doing a delete/replace of the offending trailer worldwide.

While we're talking about a mere video game trailer here, the implications aren't as insignificant as they might seem. Games are a subset of culture and commerce. While much of the discourse over how companies do business in China is overstated to say the least, what Activision did here is something different. Indeed, it could probably be best summarized as: Activision allowed the Chinese government to censor the company's art throughout the world.

And, sinophobia aside, that is a very dangerous precedent to set. That it was an action taken on a trailer for a game called Call of Duty: Cold War, in fact, is probably proof that the universe is not without a sense of irony.

Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: call of duty, china, free speech, games, human rights, video games
Companies: activision, blizzard


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 25 Aug 2020 @ 9:47pm

    If you would control the public, control what they know

    I imagine china's government threw it's tantrum because the very idea that anyone would ever object to their kind and generous treatment of those under them is seen as nothing less than blatant heresy, to be stomped out whenever it rears it's ugly head lest people start thinking of things and/or asking questions that are not Officially Approved.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2020 @ 2:58am

      Re: If you would control the public, control what they know

      'Tank Man' has a lot to do with this tantrum. If an unarmed man can get a column of tanks to stop, the leadership starts to really worry about the armies loyalties.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 26 Aug 2020 @ 5:51am

      Re: If you would control the public, control what they know

      "I imagine china's government threw it's tantrum because the very idea that anyone would ever object to their kind and generous treatment of those under them is seen as nothing less than blatant heresy..."

      Broadly correct, but China is a bit more dangerous than the sarcasm implies. Dictators like Kim Jong-Un, Stalin, and mussolini are all rank newbies as compared to the nation which has practiced and polished imperial rule for well over 25 centuries.

      China acts according to a very old list of rules guaranteed to keep power consolidated firmly on whatever figurehead the bureaucracy has propped up to do the hand-waving while they do the execution.

      Ensure that 95% of the population is well fed, entertained and happy, do whatever the hell you like with the remaining 5% - if you can blame them for any bad stuff happening it's a bonus.

      Let the population be free enough to say whatever they like quietly, but drop the hammer with prejudice on anyone trying to turn scattered whispers and discontent into a topic discussed in broad daylight.

      Maintain a stable of loyal whisperers of your own eager to blunt public dissent.

      At all times keep any force of influence - by money or political power - on edge by a balancing act of carrots and whips. Don't be afraid to kill the chicken to scare the monkeys every now and then to remind anyone getting too big for their britches that all power flows from one place only within imperial Hua Xia.

      China's government could care less what a bunch of gwailo outside of Chinese borders think of them - we westerners are expected to remain the same uncivilized barbarians our forefathers were.
      The persistent narrative being peddled inside China is that although we may be smarter and more educated today we still don't have the culture or experience China does to really know how to build and keep a stable civilization. Looking at the US of today...it's hard to provide convincing arguments to the contrary.

      And that's why China reacts badly when something shows up which will make it's way into the chinese side of the border and risk screwing up or contradicting that carefully designed narrative among their citizenry.

      The wiki entry of the "golden shield" project of China highlights the extent to which China has gone to ensure that western philosophy is kept well away from its borders. Let it sink in that they can sit and persistently drive a nationwide project involving some 1,4 billion people and an incredible amount of resources without roi, for around 40 years without losing focus or commitment. Compare that to us westerners whose governments can barely make a profitable project run for a whole term.

      China's little temper tantrums every time a movie or trailer show up which portrays them in less flattering light may seem amusing to us...but the fact is that they've got a happier, better educated, better fed, and more entertained citizenry than the US on top of owning the global manufacturing industry as a whole.

      So far, they're winning.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2020 @ 10:48pm

    Call of Duty: Failure State

    That time you went AWOL and practically defected to the potential enemy not only before the first shot was fired, but prior even to ambassadors meeting.

    On sale now.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    PaulT (profile), 25 Aug 2020 @ 11:14pm

    "Activision allowed the Chinese government to censor the company's art throughout the world."

    I understand the concern, but no they didn't. They forced the company to censor its advertising for their art worldwide, and Activision probably made that decision because a) any other version of the trailer they left online would still have been seen by the Chinese and b) it was one second of footage not central to the overall marketing campaign.

    It's annoying how much power they seem to wield, but it's also a huge market that no corporation will ignore in favour of artistic integrity. The only thing that's changes is the identity of the largest markets. Nintendo used to tailor entire games to the US market all the time, partly due to your screaming parents groups who didn't understand that adults play games too. Movie trailers are regularly cut and re-edited to address certain markets, and that does include censorship issues.

    The only important question here is this - does the Chinese order affect the released build of the game outside of China, or only the marketing? If the former, there are issues to be raised, although still minor compared to the 90s so far. If the latter, who cares?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 26 Aug 2020 @ 12:02am

      Censorship is censorship, no matter what form the censored speech took before it was suppressed. You should care that one country’s thin-skinned government can practically censor speech worldwide by lobbing veiled threats of economic ruin at corporations that don’t play ball (“nice business you have in our country; it’d be a shame if something happened to it”).

      Accept this form of censorship and you open yourself up to accepting more. You have a question looming before you, and I hope, for your sake, that you have a good answer for it: How much censorship is “enough” censorship for you?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 26 Aug 2020 @ 12:37am

        Re:

        "Censorship is censorship, no matter what form the censored speech took before it was suppressed."

        Yes, and I'm not going to lose any sleep over an ad campaign being edited. You do it all the time in the US, the only reason this is scaring you is because someone else other than weak-willed "Christian" types demanded the changes.

        If this scares you, you should be absolutely shitting yourself over the influence China has had in actual movies in recent years. Maybe concentrate on that rather than when an ad doesn't have a shot that's probably still in the final game (if it was there to begin with and not added for the trailer).

        By the way, I grew up in the 80s in the UK through the video nasties era. I know what actual censorship looks like, and this is so far from it that it's hilarious.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 26 Aug 2020 @ 6:43am

          You do it all the time in the US

          What, like that’s better? (Spoilers: It’s not.)

          If this scares you, you should be absolutely shitting yourself over the influence China has had in actual movies in recent years.

          I am concerned about how China has basically taken a producer’s spot in lots of Hollywood blockbusters by saying “play ball with us or maybe your movie doesn’t play here and hit that billion dollar mark as a result”. Power moves like that are why films like the Red Dawn remake end up conceding content to Chinese authority. (And that film ultimately didn’t even play in Chinese theaters despite the filmmakers changing the villains to North Korea in post-production as a way of appeasing the Chinese government.)

          I know what actual censorship looks like

          A video game publisher takes an official trailer down in all countries over one second of footage that pissed off the government of a single country…and somehow, that isn’t censorship? Well, fuck that idea. Marketing is still speech — and censoring it is still censorship.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            PaulT (profile), 26 Aug 2020 @ 6:52am

            Re:

            "What, like that’s better? (Spoilers: It’s not.)"

            No, but sort your own country out before you start ranting about other countries doing the same thing that you do.

            "I am concerned about how China has basically taken a producer’s spot in lots of Hollywood blockbusters"

            So am I. That has fuck all to do with editing a trailer.

            "A video game publisher takes an official trailer down in all countries over one second of footage that pissed off the government of a single country…and somehow, that isn’t censorship?"

            Only if it's also censorship when they take down a red band movie trailer because some Christian group in the US complained. If not, you'¡re applying double standards, and are a hypocrite.

            " Marketing is still speech — and censoring it is still censorship"

            ...and corporations censor their marketing all the frigging time because they make more money that way. Are you opposed to capitalism, now?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 26 Aug 2020 @ 7:09am

              Only if it's also censorship when they take down a red band movie trailer because some Christian group in the US complained. If not, you're applying double standards, and are a hypocrite.

              Most studios don’t listen to those sorts of groups these days. I literally can’t recall the last time I heard about a trailer, red band or otherwise, being taken down from major video sites or off film reels only because a bunch of whiny evangelical fuckbois whined about how it “offended their sensibilities”. (I mean, the trailer for Zack Snyder’s Justice League offended me with its choice in music. But I didn’t go around calling for it to be taken down.) The key difference between those religious fuckbois and the Chinese government is that most studios have learned that kowtowing to the fuckbois is a generally bad idea, whereas kowtowing to the Chinese government can produce hundreds of millions of dollars in profit.

              If and when Christians, Muslims, Jews, Satanists, atheists, or even the damned Flying Spaghetti Monster people manage to censor speech via threats of financial ruin — rare as that is these days, when more companies would rather be on the side of acceptance and diversity than the side of bigotry and hatred — it’s bullshit, and I’ll gladly call it so. My criticism of the Chinese government trying to be a global censor is not, and should never be mistaken for, an acceptance of domestic censorship. And if I have to constantly decry domestic censorship because I criticized the Chinese government, so be it — I’ll put in that work if it means I won’t ever be confused for someone who accepts censorship only because it’s happening in his home country.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                PaulT (profile), 26 Aug 2020 @ 7:32am

                Re:

                "whereas kowtowing to the Chinese government can produce hundreds of millions of dollars in profit."

                Therefore, the problem isn't the Chinese demanding things, it's how a company responds to the demand. It's down to a studio if they make global changes to something, and unless I'm mistaken they don't normally manage to get global changes forced unless the studio decide to do it or the Chinese directly financing the production staff.

                "I literally can’t recall the last time I heard about a trailer, red band or otherwise, being taken down from major video sites or off film reels only because a bunch of whiny evangelical fuckbois whined about how it “offended their sensibilities”"

                There are examples but as we've agreed it's down to the financials, and those groups don't have the same financial power as they used to. The most recent I can think of is Netflix being forced to take down its marketing for the French movie Cuties recently, but there were sensible objections that weren't entirely religious based there at least.

                "And if I have to constantly decry domestic censorship because I criticized the Chinese government, so be it "

                That would be the honest thing to do. It's when you pretend it's a uniquely Chinese thing that your argument loses focus. At the end of the day, we're talking about Activision choosing to change its marketing materials because they were informed the originals would lose them money.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 26 Aug 2020 @ 6:15am

        Re:

        "You should care that one country’s thin-skinned government can practically censor speech worldwide by lobbing veiled threats of economic ruin at corporations that don’t play ball (“nice business you have in our country; it’d be a shame if something happened to it”)."

        ...this is not news. Game companies have always changed their marketing or games completely dependent on US - or lately - Chinese pressure. It's unsightly and annoying but I, for one, am largely unconcerned with the private sector continuing to conform to the expected market as they always have. That's basically nothing more than Facebook changing it's ToS according to what their board of directors say.

        The "chilling effect" does not, at least, carry force of law. I'm far more concerned with the fact that China does apply legal penalties on received or distributed opinion within their borders than I am about Activision being, well, the opportunistic mercenary you'd expect.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 26 Aug 2020 @ 6:53am

          I, for one, am largely unconcerned with the private sector continuing to conform to the expected market as they always have.

          Look at my comment above for the example of the Red Dawn remake. That’s not “conforming to the expected market”; if it were, the U.S. would still have a version of the film where China was the invading force instead of North Korea. But we don’t have that. We have the version where North Korea is the invading force because the Chinese government said “do it or you’re fucked”. That’s censorship, no matter how you feel about anything else regarding the film, because one government used its enormous leverage to alter or suppress someone else’s speech — and in this case, it was speech from people in an entirely different country.

          The "chilling effect" does not, at least, carry force of law.

          It does in China. Any film that pisses off the censors there doesn’t play there, which is why so many American blockbusters bend over backwards nowadays to appease the Chinese government. That one market can make the difference between a half-billion dollars and a billion dollars at the global box office. You would do well to worry about filmmakers and studios kowtowing to Chinese government demands (including the censorship of content) because of profits. Letting that, or the situation in this article, pass without criticism is an implicit acceptance of the Chinese government as a global censor. I refuse to accept that. What’s your excuse?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 26 Aug 2020 @ 8:33am

            Re:

            "We have the version where North Korea is the invading force because the Chinese government said “do it or you’re fucked”. That’s censorship, no matter how you feel about anything else regarding the film, because one government used its enormous leverage to alter or suppress someone else’s speech — and in this case, it was speech from people in an entirely different country."

            It's still not censorship. The proper term is either *"extortion", "blackmail" or, with some stretching, "gunboat diplomacy".

            "Any film that pisses off the censors there doesn’t play there, which is why so many American blockbusters bend over backwards nowadays to appease the Chinese government."

            Yeah, the old "entartete kunst" schtick never grows old. But you gave the reason as to why this happens yourself; "You would do well to worry about filmmakers and studios kowtowing to Chinese government demands (including the censorship of content) because of profits.".

            " Letting that, or the situation in this article, pass without criticism is an implicit acceptance of the Chinese government as a global censor."

            Without criticism? No. I'd argue that the issue is that there are far too many conniving shitweasels in the entertainment industry unwilling to take a moral stand and criticize the hell out of them.
            But this is the path the US chose - money dictates all.

            "I refuse to accept that. What’s your excuse?"

            That I still abide by what words actually mean? China can only practice censorship where they have legal jurisdiction (and there, needless to say, they practice such).
            Their leverage elsewhere isn't censorship. Not any more than it's censorship for Facebook to have their ToS cater to the majority of their customer base. The argument that someone needs to stop a private company from bending over to malicious interests is the flip side of the argument that private companies are free to do with their own property as they will.

            If Activision chooses to bend over, drop its pants, and exclaim "Yes, your imperial highness Xi, please drop the money in the bowl on your way out!" then that's all on Activision.

            That China is also deserving of far worse criticism than merely strong-arming game and movie makers is another kettle of fish entirely.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2020 @ 8:20pm

            Re:

            A simple solution would be a 100% tax on all revenues from broadcasting or publishing any material in the PRC except under the auspices of the government's subversion programmes (or an allied government's), charged on anything published or broadcast within reach of our laws.that way, you can make money from sales in china, or outside china, but not both.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2020 @ 2:04am

    Nobody gives a fuck.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Rocky, 26 Aug 2020 @ 3:28am

      Re:

      Apparently a lot of people do give a fuck. What you probably meant is "I don't give a fuck". Either way, neither statement can be true since you had to post here which indicates you actually gave a fuck.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 26 Aug 2020 @ 4:33am

        Re: Re:

        That's always one of my favourite things... yeah, clearly there's at least one person who cares, because people who don't actually care about something usually don't take the time to comment about it.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 26 Aug 2020 @ 7:12am

      And yet, you had at least one fuck to give.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    ryuugami, 26 Aug 2020 @ 4:03am

    a trailer running for 2:02 was released to the world

    That trailer includes a single second of an image from Chinese protests against the government from three decades ago.

    replaced with a much shorter, 1:00 version

    What the hell happened with the other 1 minute 1 second? Collateral damage of carpet bombing, or were there 61 other countries livid at 61 other one-second video segments?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 26 Aug 2020 @ 4:39am

      Re:

      I don't have enough of a strong opinion to dig up and compare the videos, but the possibilities are probably:

      a) They already had a shorter "teaser" version of the trailer ready to go that they didn't use before, which didn't contain the offending shot, and just released that or

      b) They were pre-empting other countries whining and just removed all the real-life footage they thought would be objectionable.

      Whatever the situation, a multinational corporation was advertising their product and they decided to take a route that maximised their potential audience, rather than either releasing multiple trailers for each market or sticking to their guns and potentially losing money. This is the sort of thing that happens all the time, they just don't often make those decisions after the initial ads are released. Either way, if it's just marketing material that affected and not the end product, who cares?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2020 @ 4:48am

        Re: Re:

        Either way, if it's just marketing material that affected and not the end product, who cares?

        Everybody should care because giving in once makes it easier to give in to more demands, and let China become the worlds censor.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 26 Aug 2020 @ 5:58am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Expect, that's not really the case here.

          Look, all we appear to be talking about is marketing materials. Every country has its own standards in that area, and corporations constantly change their marketing to match the target market. You do it all the time, even in the US. Some movies have G and R rated trailers. Occasionally, a red band trailer is run, there are complaints and the studio either re-edit the trailer or pull that trailer and run the G rated version. Similarly, there are often "domestic" and "international" versions of a trailer. These can vary in multiple different ways, but sometimes there will be different levels of graphic content, and I don't recall sky falling predictions whenever that happens at the behest of the US market.

          Similarly, the US is not above bullying foreign companies into obeying their censorship needs when it suits them. As the most famous examples, Nintendo felt the need to censor the SNES version of Mortal Kombat back in the day, and SEGA pulled Night Trap entirely, due to complaints from the US. Were you whining about this stuff back then, or is it now only a problem because it's the Chinese government doing it?

          Unless you can prove that the issue is affecting the actual end product, all you have here is that a company decided to change the sole trailer it was using for international marketing because one of their largest markets had a problem. The game itself remains unchanged. That's not something to be concerned about.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2020 @ 6:06am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Marketing material today, other content tomorrow. Its just marketing material is a weak argument when it is a government exercising its power to get a company to remove content.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              PaulT (profile), 26 Aug 2020 @ 6:44am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              "Its just marketing material is a weak argument when it is a government exercising its power to get a company to remove content"

              OK, so are you shitting your pants over the US and Europe, among other places, already doing that - right now? Or, does it only count when the Chinese might vaguely be doing it at some point in the future?

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                Stephen T. Stone (profile), 26 Aug 2020 @ 7:16am

                are you shitting your pants over the US and Europe, among other places, already doing that - right now?

                Yes, and when such cases come to light, they can and should be decried as censorship. What the Chinese government does is irrelevant to such cases. And I have to agree that the “it’s just marketing materials” argument holds little-to-no water here, especially in light of the Chinese government’s ability to have entire films changed (e.g., the Red Dawn remake). Censorship is censorship, regardless of what form the speech takes.

                (And for the record, you seem way too forgiving of the Chinese government’s censorious nature in this particular case.)

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • icon
                  PaulT (profile), 26 Aug 2020 @ 7:34am

                  Re:

                  "Yes, and when such cases come to light, they can and should be decried as censorship"

                  Yet, the most noise I hear is when the Chinese do it, and not the many other countries who do worse.

                  "Censorship is censorship, regardless of what form the speech takes."

                  ...and again, these companies censor themselves constantly. For profit. Same as it's always been.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 26 Aug 2020 @ 6:24am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "Everybody should care because giving in once makes it easier to give in to more demands, and let China become the worlds censor."

          Ironically it used to be the US and Europe holding that role. I still recall "Fallout 2" being launched in altered versions with children either completely removed from the game or rendered immortal because, apparently, politics and outraged ideologists. There are plenty of other examples of games being re-tooled to fit the legislation or ideology of given markets.

          Yeah it's ugly that some Chinese commissar can squawk a protest and a board of game company trustees all drop to their knees and hammer their foreheads to the floor nine times in the direction of the Imperial Seat in Beijing...but it's not new, nor is China alone in this.

          I'm far more concerned with the actual legal steps China takes towards actual censorship, and, as PaulIT states, the impact they have on whole movies already.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            PaulT (profile), 26 Aug 2020 @ 6:49am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "I still recall "Fallout 2" being launched in altered versions"

            There's lots of examples. Apart from the aforementioned Mortal Kombat, the examples that spring immediately to mind are:

            • Carmageddon having red blood replaced with green
            • All Nazi references being scrubbed from Wolfenstein 3D in Germany
            • Manhunt 2 being rendered virtually unplayable with blurring effects attempting to obscure gory cutscenes (definitely in the UK, not sure about elsewhere but I recall it happening)
            • The EU version of South Park: The Stick Of Truth having the entire anal probe sequences censored (although they at least made a meta joke out of the censorship in that case)

            The list goes on, but I don't recall these people losing their shit about whichever country it was trying to take over the world. All of these are far worse than what Activision have done to their trailer.

            This happens on a regular basis. plus, when it comes to trailers you're an absolute moron if you don't think that self-censorship of marketing materials happens all the time, they just normally get censored in board meetings before the ad is released.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2020 @ 7:16am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Except these examples you provide were either due to pressure from consumer groups... aka the OMG think of the children they'll all turn in to murdering psychopaths people OR if it was a government pushing back (Woflenstein probably) the change was made for a specific market and not worldwide.

              There is a big difference between a government telling you what you can say and being pressured by a very vocal minority of the general public.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                PaulT (profile), 26 Aug 2020 @ 7:38am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                "these examples you provide were either due to pressure from consumer groups"

                Nope, the government were involved with almost all of these. At the very least we're talking about countries where it's illegal for something to be released if the government censor had not approved of it. That's why it's so hilarious seeing Americans lose their crap over something this minor.

                "the change was made for a specific market and not worldwide."

                Not always, for example, the Mortal Kombat changes were global IIRC.

                "There is a big difference between a government telling you what you can say and being pressured by a very vocal minority of the general public."

                Yes there is. There's also a massive different between making an edit to an advertisement and making a change to the full product you're selling. The former are censored constantly without you noticing.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2020 @ 12:45pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  Manhunt was censored because publishers insist on avoiding the AO rating in the US (and no, ESRB is not government). They couldve sold it uncensored in America at least, but didnt want to.

                  Same for the European version of South Park. The uncensored version had been approved by PEGI, but the publisher chose to censor it themselves. Though lots of places sold imported US versions anyway.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • icon
                    PaulT (profile), 26 Aug 2020 @ 11:13pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    "Manhunt was censored because publishers insist on avoiding the AO rating in the US (and no, ESRB is not government). "

                    In the UK, it was because the BBFC was scared by the cyclical rabid droolings of the tabloid press who has tried to tie video games into recent murders at the time of the original Manhunt and were incensed that there was a sequel coming out on the Wii. So, although the press got it censored, the published had to abide by the BBFC rating to legally release the game and opted to do so.

                    "The uncensored version had been approved by PEGI, but the publisher chose to censor it themselves"

                    This is a little more complicated. While that's certainly an accurate reading from one perspective, the PEGI rating does not necessarily carry legal weight in every EU country. Release of a game that's PEGI 18 rated does not necessarily mean it won't fall foul of other laws if people complain to the authorities, even if it is the legal standard in the UK and some other countries. Since the PEGI rating is for the whole EU, sometimes publishers will make changes to placate the least open minded of its members.

                    Anyway, the points I am making remain - the voices here losing their shit over an edited trailer have not been so loud when non-Chinese authorities are forcing changes, even though those changes have disrupted the content of the actual game, whereas this CoD entry seems to be unaffected in its released form.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 26 Aug 2020 @ 7:23am

              Here’s the difference between those cases and this one:

              Those cases you mentioned involved specific regions saying “you can’t do that here”. (As much as I hate to see speech censored as it was in those cases, there’s fuck-all that can be done about that.) The case in this article involves one country saying “you won’t do that anywhere” and getting speech suppressed across the entire world. If you can’t admit the difference between Nazi symbols being taken out of games in Germany alone and an entire trailer being yanked down worldwide because one government said “do it or you’re fucked”, you’re either unable to see it or unwilling to admit it. I have to wonder which of those shoes fits you.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                PaulT (profile), 26 Aug 2020 @ 11:15pm

                Re:

                "Those cases you mentioned involved specific regions saying “you can’t do that here”."

                Some affected global releases, though, it's suspicious that you ignore those cases.

                "The case in this article involves one country saying “you won’t do that anywhere” and getting speech suppressed across the entire world."

                Yes... and the reason for that is that Activision opted to release one trailer globally rather than individual trailers for each territory. That wasn't China's decision. In fact, if Activision had their heads screwed on they'd have known to release 2 trailers anyway.

                "I have to wonder which of those shoes fits you."

                You could just read my words, not ignoring the ones that don't suit you, and know instead of making shit up about me, perhaps?

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2020 @ 8:27pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Censoring versions in particular countries to satisfy their laws is an internal issue to be resolved by internal processes in that country (be it acceptance, political opposition, or revolution), allowing foreign governments to influence local publications is a tool of subversion and should be prevented by any means available.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                PaulT (profile), 31 Aug 2020 @ 11:04pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                "allowing foreign governments to influence local publications is a tool of subversion and should be prevented by any means available"

                Do you apply this standard on the regular occasions where places outside of the US get a censored or altered version of a work because the US makes a localised version and doesn't want to release anything else? Or, are you another coward losing their minds because China is doing what the US had done many times?

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Annonymouse, 26 Aug 2020 @ 5:03am

    This is one of the more overt bend over and roggering by Activision that has been ongoing because greed trumps everything by those chuckleheads.
    I noticed that Blizzard has updated the Forsaken character model to show less bone on their rotting frames. Funny that it now matches the china specific model.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Essential Reading
Techdirt Insider Chat
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.