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What Activision Told Its Employees Today About Modern Warfare 3's Leak

Activision details how the reveal was supposed to work...and how it changed.

"Hey gang," starts an email that I've obtained, sent to Activision employees this morning, penned by Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg. Hirshberg's email marks Activision's first company-wide internal acknowledgement of last week's Modern Warfare 3 leak on Kotaku.

The email's tone is not unlike the candid interview Hirshberg conducted with Joystiq about earlier this week. In fact, the Joystiq interview is actually referenced within the email.

"I wanted to reach out to you today and address the Call of Duty intellectual property leak that occurred last Friday," started Hirshberg. "Of course, Activision takes very seriously any abuse of our intellectual property – the event is under investigation and we’re confident it will be resolved quickly."

The email does not provide any details on where Activision suspects the leak came from. I've heard several theories, none of them with definitive proof. But with so many developers and outsourcing companies working on massive, fast-tracked projects like Modern Warfare 3--well, stuff happens.

"What I want to tell you about is how we handled the event internally," he continued. "We were lucky in that we were very close to our scheduled reveal date, and therefore, we had a number of assets that had not yet been released, but were ready to go."

== TEASER ==

Activision and Infinity Ward rolled out a series of teaser trailers to YouTube that evening. There have also been prominent advertisements running during the NBA conference finals, promising a revealing trailer next week. The companies pulled the very same marketing trick for 2009's Modern Warfare 2.

"When it came to light that we had suffered a significant security breach, it became clear that a leak of this size had the potential to throw our launch off of its schedule, or worse, blunt its momentum," he wrote. "As a company, we needed to look both backwards and forwards simultaneously. Of course we needed to immediately begin finding the source of the leak. But we also needed to deal with the fact that, like it or not, our launch had just begun."

Activision and Infinity Ward's decision to simply acknowledge the leak and move on was a smart, if rather unexpected move. With the "real" launch so close, the two could have just put their heads down. Instead, beginning the reveal allowed them to capitalize on traffic and attention otherwise on Kotaku.

"Our leadership team and key members of the Call of Duty team met to discuss strategy," he said. "I, for one, was incredibly proud of the team’s performance in that critical meeting. Instead of panicking, we took the fire of interest that had been started by the leak, and poured gasoline on it. Through Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, we released our four teasers (which were not scheduled to launch for another week) onto the web. With equal agility, our worldwide sales organizations managed to put both the retail and .com presale programs and assets into launch mode in no-time flat. Everybody involved delivered under pressure."

The announcement strategy for Modern Warfare 3 is not unlike the one for the last game.

Kotaku spoiled the goods--or parts of it--a week early. Some teasers would have begun rolling out this week, laying the viral groundwork for the official trailer during the NBA Finals.

"The result?" he said, numbers at the ready. "We had over 4.8 million hits on the various Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 teasers over those first 48 hours. To put that in perspective, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and Call of Duty: Black Ops had 61,000 and 89,000 hits, respectively, in their first two days. Pre-sales for MW3 are off to an amazing start. Perhaps, most importantly, we migrated the dialogue from one that was between our players and the leakers, to one between our players and us."

Translation: Modern Warfare 3 is going to be huge. The Kotaku leak may have even helped fan the flames, as gamers descended upon the site and other blogs to learn "secret" details about the game.

"Very few companies could have woken up with a crisis of this magnitude, and gone to bed with an undeniable win," he concluded, echoing similar comments made to Joystiq. "Everyone should be extremely proud. We’ve got a long way to go. But under very challenging circumstances, we managed to get our launch off to an incredible start."

We expect to learn plenty more at a little thing called E3.

Patrick Klepek on Google+
127 Comments
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Posted by Brackynews
Posted by jehrenfried

leaks make the world go round

Posted by Aas

Patrick "Killing It" Klepek. Keep it up, I'm actually reading Giantbomb news stories again!

Posted by BitterAlmond

I suspect this "leak" is only to generate more news; even if it's not an order from on high, someone in the PR or advertising department realized a leak of a game so popular would echo louder than any official release of a couple trailers.

Posted by JohnDudebro

This is what Patrick brings. He actually has contacts, like a real fucking newsman. Great work.

Posted by shadystx

I really hope BF3 has an amazing campaign to go along with what i assume will be great MP(considering dice's rep).

I mention BF3 because I am tired of COD now, the campaigns have been the same thing for the last few years, Run,shoot guy in head with what is basically auto lock, release, re-pull trigger shoot guy in head, run to stop enemies spawing(although this has got a bit better), watch scripted event unfold, repeat the basic gameplay, watch cut scene, rinse and repeat through the entire game, The multiplayer is still good but i am done with that also, played very few BO matches, sold the game.

It feels like the gameplay has not evolved one bit for years, i loved COD2,MW1, enjoyed MW2 and WAW, barely enjoyed BO as 2 hours into it the series became stale for me.

Of course this is just my opinion and i know COD still has mass amounts of fans but i feel SOME of them know of little else when it comes to shooters, I was playing Red River the other day when my cousin came in and said "playing COD" i said no and he said " You know what i mean, i ment your playing a shooter" he is a more casual gamer, somewhere between hardcore and casual really and instead of calling an FPS a shooter he called it COD, I thought that was a little telling like foreigners calling England, London like theres nothing else.

If Activision and its dev teams have not made some evolving steps with MW3 i wont buy it and if thats the case i hope BF3 is amazing and allot of COD players switch over only so Activision  lose some of the billion dollar a year profit from COD and make them up the ante.

I know this is wishful thinking but one can hope for more than a new coat of paint, Although i know little of the game and they could have made great changes to MW3 and so if they have i will buy it and they deserve continued massive success.

Posted by PeasantAbuse

It's funny because most of the people that hate on CoD on this site end up buying it anyway, or at least playing it somehow.
Posted by Mr_Skeleton

They sound like a bunch of dicks but they are actually right, this kind of leek can only hurt them and at best do nothing (which isn't the case with such a big game).

Posted by fuddles

God knows I'll cave and buy a copy of this, get distracted by the massive single player set pieces to realize it lacks an actual interesting plot line, worship the multiplayer for a week or two, and then hate it for the rest of my breathing life. 

Posted by CandiBunni

No thanks, I'll stick with Halo: Reach and Killzone 2 thank you very much. 

Posted by MideonNViscera

I'll definitely rent this for the campaign. I can only assume the MP will be the same thing yet again, but you can always count on CoD for a new campaign at least.

Posted by paisan13

I'll borrow the game when it's out, but I'm finished supporting Activision.

Posted by super_machine

All I got to say is the campaign and spec-ops better be worth the money. After Black Ops, I swore off ever playing another COD just for the multi-player component.

Posted by jayjonesjunior

Money, money, money, oh i miss the time when games were all about fun and creativity.

Posted by ajamafalous
@dvorak said:
I feel like it's basically obligatory as a fan of FPS games to get this.
I am a fan of FPS games but I have zero interest in any Call of Duty games.
Posted by HydraHam

When they decide to release a new COD that isn't the same as the last 10 i MIGHT rent it, till then i will continue to pass.

Just give me BF3, all those games were just tiding people over for BF3 anyways.

Posted by caityful

And it never occured to Mr Hirshberg that these pre-release leaks could be good for the sales in the long run, read: "... Pre-sales for MW3 are off to an amazing start.." ?

Posted by ELpork

I'm pumped for this, only because it'll be the VARY LAST good COD... All praise logic. 

Posted by EDfromRED


 I remain VERY sceptical of the quality of game  a gutted Infinity Ward & misc developers will produce.  Factoring in the pre-knowledge, that there are probably plans to gouge consumers with overpriced DLC, any drop in quality means a  no buy for me.

 I hope Respawn jumps on the scene with a bang, offering a bigger, better whatever, without the bad taste that Activisions greed leaves with me. I think between Battlefield 3 and future Respawn suprises, this Modern Warfare may be the one I wait to pick up when it hits the bargain bin -- if ever.

Posted by Robo

 "When it came to light that we had suffered a significant security breach, it became clear that a leak of this size had the potential to throw our launch off of its schedule, or worse, blunt its momentum...blah blah blah marketing"

It's not like they won't sell SHIT TONS of copies because some leak screwed up their little business bullshit marketing schedule. The assholes in suits getting their nuts all in a tussle because this leak could have messed with their 'momentum' need to lighten the fuck up. I'd be more worried about how the game stacks up to BF3 if I were them.

Posted by Shisnopi

Now lets pray they actually improve the formula.

Edited by Curufinwe
@Altersparck said:

Say what you will about Activision, but they know how to work the PR magic. Sony could learn a thing or two from them (and Microsoft, Nintendo, Apple, etc...)

Apple don't need any advice from Activision.
Posted by Winternet

Wait. There's a thing called E3?

Posted by Chris2KLee

That's the risk you take when you have to farm out so much of your asset development to outside studios.

Posted by Brendan
@jayjonesjunior said:
Money, money, money, oh i miss the time when games were all about fun and creativity.
The 70's?  Because games have almost never been about the money.
Posted by Cirdain

What leak. When was the Rapture??? I'm so confused.

Posted by Hzaife

I havent purchased a COD game yet, i wonder if this is the one.

Posted by probablytuna

How do you get all these internal memos from Activision? :O

Posted by me3639

Curious is to how you obtained an inter company email?

Posted by sate2801

come on dude, this is silly
just a few screenshots and they talk about like it's some real fucking crisis

take a look at the history, the only leaks that actually caused trouble were the Doom3 and HL2 leak
and they involve the whole early build of game getting leaked
not some random screenshot and virtual gunporn
Edited by DeF

I don't even see how this leak could have affected ANYTHING about the game negatively.

People want Call of Duty, now they know there is a new Call of Duty - everybody is happy. That memo makes it sound like a new very high-profile IP got revealed extremely early and thus any chances of potential hype-momentum might've been ruined. What actually happened was that stuff that was supposed to come out within a week (!) was pushed out early. The leaked plot, in my opinion, doesn't even factor into anything. I doubt anyone who usually goes out and buys the Call of Duty games cares about the plot so much that a leak like this would cause them to revise their buying decision.

This might just as well have been a very clever meta-marketing stunt with Activision and Kotaku cooperating since leaks are all the rage with the kids these days (having supposedly "secret" information is exciting!).

Posted by briangodsoe

It would suck to be the guy fired for essential getting people interested in a game and boosting sales. How dare he release the existence of a game that everybody knew was going to happen!  

Posted by hojufixter

Huge amount of views. And in only 48 hours? Shit......

Posted by MisterMouse

smart way of playing it...

Posted by Yanngc33
@Funkydupe said:
How long can they keep making these?
As long as they print money for them
Posted by Delusibeta

The fact that this e-mail also leaked suggests to me that the whole thing is a PR stunt. A very effective PR stunt, admittedly, but still.

Posted by groovemonkey

wonder what killstreaks they gonna have in Mw3..

Posted by Kahoona

I love how they refer to the game as "Call of Duty Intellectual Property".  It's like they don't even want to acknowledge it's a game, just a commodity to them.

Posted by Solemn

I want to finish the stuff that started four years ago. I want to finish this story arc and be done with Call of Duty.

Posted by ClaritySam
@vizionblind said:
bring on battlefield 3
Posted by JEC03

Never saw what the big deal was about the COD series is to me BF is still the best BF2 is literally better then every cod game ever made.

Posted by Rowr

herpdy derpdy herp derp

Posted by Underachiever007
@me3639 said:
Curious is to how you obtained an inter company email?
Contacts, I'd assume. Patrick has done it before.
Posted by TheJollyRajah

I'm SO done with COD.

Posted by Altersparck
@Curufinwe: I think you misread that. I meant that Sony could learn better PR management from Activision, Microsoft, Nintendo, Apple, etc. I agree, though, that Apple doesn't really need help from anyone in regards to PR.
Posted by Chubbaluphigous

Interesting read, though the game holds 0 interest for me.  Call of Duty is dead to me.

Edited by ahoodedfigure

I see why bigger companies may want to protect their content releases, but a leak could easily be capitalized upon instead of going nuts acting like it's going to ruin the magic, as they showed. My spidey sense tells me they probably shouldn't worry too much about this thing selling, anyway.

Edited by bybeach

I enjoy the MW series despite as formulaic as they are and how they are becoming. Sort of a intense military shooter (COD Roots) with a roller coaster sans safety harness wrapped around. They seemed to be expanding this approach as of MW2, and strongly expect more in MW3.  Up to now they haven't reached bottom, and I suspect MW3, especially with the Head Honchos gone, may not know where else to venture, but whatever we see was probably going to approximate it anyways. There may have been a storyline already created that for all I know goes well beyond MW3, and they sort of know where they are going to some detail.

 

And yes, good recovery. If I worked there I would be proud. But I''m not all frothing for the game, yet unless it critically fails, will be their best customer. It's only if the quality and intensity lessens in the SP campaign that I will loose interest. Yes the story is all over the place, but so are 2 sparking high voltage wires thrashing on the floor, I needs to see what happens!

Posted by LoggerRythm

"O.k. guys. I know that everyone outside the company knew there was going to be a Modern Warfare 3, I mean let's be honest I need a new Jaguar and Blizzard said their not going to release Diablo 3 for another decade, so I want names and I.D. badges associated with those names by noon tomorrow or we're going to have to fire what's left of the original Infinity Ward team!" - Probably actual comment from a certain big wig. 

Posted by forsakenskys

If it looks good/story  ill buy .

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