Activision recounts 'massive' Modern Warfare 3 leak

Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg calls situation "first real crisis on the job," explains how company "turned a crisis into an opportunity."


In May, a hefty information dump revealed numerous marquee components and intelligence about Activision's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. The game went on to become a big hit, hauling in a billion dollars in 16 days, but that doesn't mean Activision was pleased with the leak happening in the first place.

Modern Warfare 3 was exposed earlier than Activision planned.
Modern Warfare 3 was exposed earlier than Activision planned.

Activision publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg has publicly recounted the events of the leak in a video at AdAge. During the talk, Hirshberg revealed several nuggets of information concerning the leak, including how it was his "first real crisis on the job." At the time of the leak, Hirshberg had been with Activision for only a little over a year.

Explaining the leak, Hirshberg said, "It wasn't on our timetable; we didn't instigate it. But it's out there, and we can't pull it back in. We weren't ready for this, but we had to deal with it."

Hirshberg called a meeting (which he said lasted for half a day) with those affected on the day of the leak. During this meeting, Hirshberg said he stressed one idea in particular:

"Our job today is to complete this sentence: 'If this leak had never happened, we would have never been able to do ______ .' And if we could complete that sentence, then we could go to bed tonight having turned a crisis into an opportunity," he said.

Hirshberg admitted that the leak exposed details about Modern Warfare 3 to only a "very small percentage of the population," calling those persons the "core-most, enthusiast fans."

Regardless, Hirshberg stressed that the "greatest value in this digital, connected world is the value of transparency." And for this reason, he said it was important to him to "be straight with people."

Managing the situation with this in mind, Hirshberg said he took the "fire of interest" that was created with the leak and "poured gasoline on it."

To do this, Hirshberg said he initiated a plan to release new assets for the game on the same day as the leak. The executive said these assets--videos and art distributed through the company's Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube pages--were supposed to be released four weeks later but were pushed up to embrace the situation instead of avoiding it.

For more on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, check out GameSpot's review.

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