Black Ops III publisher Activision found itself in hot water after live tweeting a supposed terrorist attack, but Treyarch head Jason Blundell says the negative backlash was “shocking.”
When it comes time to promote the impending release of a Triple-A game, publishers will oftentimes look for more creative outlets than simple print ads and television spots. This results in big name studios such as EA and Sega utilizing avant garde promotion techniques such as hiring fake Christian protesters for Dante’s Inferno or scattering bloody arm stumps around London for MadWorld. While these promotions certainly capture the attention of the public, often it is for the totally wrong reason. Such is the lesson Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 publisher Activision learned when the studio attempted to promote the military shooters upcoming release with a staged terrorist attack on Twitter
Fans of Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 that follow the game’s official Twitter account were left scratching their heads when the account seemingly disappeared from the Twitterverse in September, replaced with an account calling itself “Current Events Aggregate,” which tweeted seemingly random movie news and had nothing to do with the popular FPS franchise.
But when the account suddenly claimed that an explosion had decimated the North bank of the Singapore marina, mass confusion followed. The account proceeded to live tweet a terrorist attack on Singapore, leaving the public wondering if the reports were fact or fiction. When it was revealed the terrorist attack live tweet was nothing but a marketing stunt designed to give gamers a “glimpse into the future fiction of #BlackOps3,” fans were quick to deride the tactless marketing scheme.
Activision has yet to release an official statement on the debacle, but speaking with IGN, Call of Duty developer Treyarch’s senior executive producer Jason Blundell has said that he is shocked by the negative reaction to the stunt, saying:
“I think we were as shocked as everybody else when it started blowing up, because essentially we were teeing up for a story beat. So again, very sorry for anyone who took it that way. It wasn’t meant that way at all- it was supposed to just be getting ready for a campaign element.”
Blundell stressed that the tweets were intended to offer fans of the Call of Duty franchise a look into the world of the upcoming game, but he understands the anger surrounding the marketing ploy, and reinforced that the tweets were not made maliciously.
With Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 gearing up for a November 6th release date, it’s understandable that Activision wants to build as much buzz for the title as possible. But with many upset over the game’s lack of a campaign mode for Xbox 360 and the PS3, and the decision to release timed exclusive DLC for the PS4, the last thing Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 needs is more bad publicity.