After Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 was unofficially outed last week because of an enormous leak, many were wondering how Activision-Blizzard would respond to the situation. Though it may seem counterintuitive, the CEO of the well-known entertainment publisher suggested that the information that was leaked will ultimately have a positive effect on the game’s marketing.
Screenshots, audio, concept art, and the entire plot of Modern Warfare 3 were leaked by an unidentified source last Friday, supposedly having deep ties with the higher-ups at Infinity Ward, the upcoming title’s primary developer. Subsequently, Activision released official teaser trailers for the game, all of which were likely being saved for E3 in June.
“While it’s definitely not cool to steal other people’s intellectual property, and while it’s definitely not cool to leak stuff that’s not yours, there are ways that you can respond that actually turn the lemons into lemonade,” stated Activision’s CEO, Eric Hirshberg, in an interview with Joystiq.
“It would be really easy to just obsess over the event, which was the leak, and obsess over how it happened, and that’s only looking backwards,” said Hirshberg. “And in the meantime, your launch just started. And you aren’t always in control of the schedule and the dialogue, and you need to be comfortable of those rapids in this day and age. That’s actually one of the things that separates good marketing from great marketing today.”
Recognizing Activision’s lack of control in the situation, Hirshberg and a number of his associates agreed to release teaser trailers, capitalizing on the publicity of the leak and spinning it to the company’s advantage. “We woke up with a marketing crisis and wanted to go to bed with a marketing win,” the executive remarked.
During the interview, Hirshberg praised the company’s social media initiative in saying:
Through our various channels, through Robert Bowling at Infinity Ward, through Facebook and through our YouTube channel, we reached out to our fans and we said, ‘Look, we didn’t schedule this. This wasn’t something we had planned. But everyone seems excited, so we’re just going to roll with it. So here they are, a couple of assets that weren’t scheduled to be out for another couple of weeks, we’re going to release ’em to you today.
It appears as if the acclaimed publisher was atypically nonchalant about the Modern Warfare 3 leak, which has led to some speculation that the story was fabricated by the company. Activision is reportedly being internally investigated to find the source of the leak.
What do you, fellow gamers, think? Did Activision plant the story to capitalize on the publicity of the leak? Do you think that the publisher handled the situation well? Sound off in the comments below.