Activision’s Hirshberg responds to Modern Warfare 3 leak

By Stephany Nunneley, Wednesday, 18 May 2011 22:24 GMT

Activision publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg has commented on last week’s massive Modern Warfare 3 scoop, stating that the firm chose to turn what could have been a bushel of lemons into a batch of “lemonade” instead.

Speaking with Joystiq, Hirshberg said there were many ways the firm could have gone about countering the leak that day, but with his background in marketing, Hirshberg decided to turn the situation on its head.

“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, and that’s what we tried to do on Friday,” he said.

“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. 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.”

Hirshberg went on to say that during the company meeting over the matter, some suggested nothing be done, while others suggested what the firm eventually chose – to release some video teases of the game and turn it all into “a marketing win.”

“We woke up with a marketing crisis and wanted to go to bed with a marketing win,” he said. “So what we did was we kind of took that exact conversation we were having in our conference room outside and had it publicly in social media.

“Through our various channels, through Robert Bowling at IW, 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.'”

Hirshberg said the first Modern Warfare 2 and Black Ops teasers attracted a 61,000 and 89,000 views, respectively, during the first two days of release. The Modern Warfare 3 teasers? Add those those two numbers together and multiply it by 20 and “you’d have what we generated with these four teaser videos,” he added.

“We kept coming back to the fans, to the people who love this game; who are just waiting; for whom that day was just a really cool day. All that interest for us we knew was harnessable in a positive way. The other thing we wanted to do was, if there’s gonna be a dialogue about our game, we want it to be between us and our fans and not between the leakers and our fans.

“You don’t want to spoil the surprises that the game has to offer. Leaks are not positive things, even though we might have used it as a way to amplify our initial viewership.”

Hirshberg closed out the conversation by stating that whomever Kotaku received its information from “clearly had deep access,” but “not everything that was leaked,” was “accurate.”

Modern Warfare 3 will be gracing shelves on November 8, according to various retailers.

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