With Modern Warfare 3‘s existence leaked, it disrupted Activision’s carefully planned announcement, but the publisher managed to turn what could have been a PR disaster into a marketing win. Activision spoke internally about the leak and how they aimed to catch the source – this email has now been leaked.
Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg – who used to work for the PR team that created Kevin Butler – sent an email to the publisher’s employees which was obtained by GiantBomb. The email started off with:
Hey gang. I wanted to reach out to you today and address the Call of Duty intellectual property leak that occurred last Friday. 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, however, does not give any indication on where the leak may have came from.
What I want to tell you about is how we handled the event internally. 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.
The assets Hirshberg is referring to is the official Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 teasers – all three of them. The email continued:
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. 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.
Our leadership team and key members of the Call of Duty team met to discuss strategy. 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.
He then went on to explain the result of the above:
The result? 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.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is currently scheduled for a release on November 8th, 2011, and the game will be fully unveiled tonight during the NBA Western Conference Finals at around 6pm PST. Amazon has the third installment in the series up for pre-order.