Activision Promotes Upcoming Game With Terrorism Hoax

Activision, the studio behind the Call of Duty games, posted several fake tweets that were referencing a fake terrorist attack. While the tweets may have been fake, the implications could have been real.

The Twitter account @CallofDuty was temporarily rebranded as Current Events Aggregate, which had the tagline “We bring you the real news.” and appeared like it was a real news outlet. The whole rebranding was of course just to promote a new video game.

Call of Duty
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 18: Baseball player Joc Pederson visits Activision's Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 booth during E3 2015 at Los Angeles Convention Center on June 18, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images for Activision)

The @CallofDuty Twitter handle sent out several tweets referring to a fictitious terrorist event happening in Singapore.

BREAKING NEWS: Unconfirmed reports are coming in of an explosion on the North bank of the Singapore Marina.

— Call of Duty (@CallofDuty) September 29, 2015

Besides one tweet sent out after all of the hoax tweets, Activision made no attempt to let people know the tweets were part of a marketing campaign. Not only could the fake tweets have caused panic, but they’re also pretty insensitive. In today’s world, a terrorist attack is not something to joke about especially when you’re a internationally respected brand.

Four hours after posting its first fake message, the Call of Duty twitter account vaguely announced its previous posts were part of their Black Ops III promotion.

This was a glimpse into the future fiction of #BlackOps3.

— Call of Duty (@CallofDuty) September 29, 2015

It should be noted that users could still see the twitter handle @CallofDuty if they were looking carefully. Other than the small grey text that displayed the twitter handle, everything else looked quite real.

Mitch Dyer, a writer at IGN, thought that the unusual marketing tactic used by Activision was a bad idea.

“So when Activision started tweeting about a terrorist attack in Singapore, it could very easily have been misinterpreted. I think this was the purpose. The publicity stunt appears to be deliberately confusing, and to mislead someone into thinking people have been harmed purely for the sake of marketing is dirty.”

Dyer also noted that the marketing tactic was aimed at taking advantage of how people fear tragic events. By posting about fake tragedy, Activision undoubtedly received much more attention than had they just promoted their game like a normal company.


“It exploited peoples’ empathy and fear of tragedy to drive retweets and pre-orders.”

Another writer, Kyle Sledge of Gamer Rant agreed with Dyer’s assessment of Activision’s marketing scheme. He admitted that Activision succeeded in getting people to discuss their upcoming game, but that they went about it in a wrong, and tasteless way.

“Activision should regret creating such a tasteless marketing campaign. Yes, they successfully achieved the goal of getting people to talk about their video game – as we’re doing right now – but the method was rather tactless, as Activision‘s manufacturing of a fake terrorist attack could have easily been misconstrued as the real thing, and led to panic.”

The game that Activision so desperately wanted people to pay attention to is Call of Duty: Black Ops III. Black Ops III is set to be released on November 6 of this year. The game is another futuristic Call of Duty, and is set 40 years after the events of Black Ops II.

From the tweets that Activision sent out, we know that at least part of the game’s story line will focus on Singapore. Apparently, something will happen in Singapore that prompts the government to declare martial law. The campaign story will follow futuristic soldiers similar to those found in Black Ops II.

[Photo by Christian Petersen / Getty Images]