Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg reportedly sent out an internal email vowing to track down the parties responsible for leaking Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 details to the gaming press a few weeks ago. The news sets a different tone to Activision's view of the leak after Hirshberg said in an interview last week that obsessing over the event is "only looking backwards."
"No one wakes up and thinks, 'I hope there's been a leak and our timing gets all messed up,'" Hirshberg told Joystiq last week. "We woke up with a marketing crisis and wanted to go to bed with a marketing win. So what we did was we kind of took that exact conversation [about taking advantage of the leak] 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,'" he added. "'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.'"
The term "excited" was defined by the total number of combined views of the leaked assets on YouTube alone: a whopping 4.5 million combined in just 48 hours. By comparison, the first Modern Warfare 2 and Black Ops teasers attracted only 61,000 and 89,000 views, respectively, in their first two days of availability.
But even though the MW3 leak generated some high-volume pre-mature excitement, Hirshberg is seemingly intent on digging out the mole. "Activision takes very seriously any abuse of our intellectual property – the event is under investigation and we’re confident it will be resolved quickly," he wrote. Strangely enough, come of the verbiage used in the email was actually lifted from the Joystiq interview.
"With equal agility, our worldwide sales organizations managed to put both the retail and .com pre-sale programs and assets into launch mode in no-time flat," he said. "Everybody involved delivered under pressure."
Was this really a leak, or some type of promotional scheme to drum up over-charged anticipation for the upcoming game? If publishers and developers are willing to pose as regular gamers and boost the overall scores of their game by writing five-star reviews, who's to say they won't pretend to "leak" assets to see how the gamers will react to a new product?
"If members of the government and the military aren't safe from this stuff, it's a part of our world now," he said.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is slated to arrive on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Windows PC on November 8, 2011. Eager fans can pre-order the game now by heading here.