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Activision: Modern Warfare 3 leak became "a marketing win"

Publisher pleased with final marketing result, but source still not identified

The CEO of Activision Publishing has suggested that the recent leaks of information regarding Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 had an ultimately positive effect on the game's marketing, even as the source remains at large.

Information, screenshots, audio and concept art was leaked to website Kotaku on Friday in a volume almost without precedence for any other video game. Activision then subsequently released official teaser trailers for the game, which it had likely been saving for a reveal closer to E3.

"Friday was a really interesting, a really kind of cool day," said publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg to website Joystiq.

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

Eric Hirshberg, Activision Publishing

"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," he said. "And that's what we tried to do on Friday."

"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," said Hirshberg. "And 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."

"We woke up with a marketing crisis and wanted to go to bed with a marketing win," stated Hirshberg. "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 Infinity Ward, 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 admits that the source of the leak "clearly had deep access," but claims that "not everything that was leaked is accurate." Internal investigations are ongoing, but according to Hirshberg, "The mystery of the leak itself is not solved, and it's better to let that unfold."

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David Jenkins