In what must be one of the most audacious marketing ploys of the modern age, Call of Duty live tweeted a fake terrorist attack in Singapore last night, causing mass confusion among its followers.
At the time of the tweets, the official Call of Duty twitter account changed its name and profile picture to resemble that of a legitimate news agency. They did however, keep the Call of Duty twitter handle and website link.
Under the pseudonym of ‘Current Events Aggregate’, the account began tweeting mundane things about movies and fashion before coming out of nowhere with breaking news of a terrorist attack, causing universal bewilderment.
The fake attack carried on for a further 18 tweets – four hours worth – before the account fell silent and changed back to Call of Duty, publishing a tweet two hours later compounding the marketing effort.
This was a glimpse into the future fiction of #BlackOps3.
— Call of Duty (@CallofDuty) September 29, 2015
While many quickly cottoned on to the prank, many more are furious, calling it an unbelievably irresponsible thing to do.
Mitch Dyer of IGN summed up his thoughts on the stunt:
This accomplishes nothing. I don’t know what I’m supposed to learn or gain from this that makes anyone more interested in Black Ops III.
While it’s simple enough to figure out this whole thing is fake by clicking through and seeing the username, Activision is looking for attention at any cost. It exploited peoples’ empathy and fear of tragedy to drive retweets and pre-orders.
Call of Duty has a history of pushing the boundaries in its games – the infamous airport scene from Modern Warfare 2 was met by a wave of criticism – but something that actively attempts to blur the line between reality and fiction when it comes to a subject as serious as terrorism reflects badly on the gaming industry as a whole.