Activision Breaks Records with Call of Duty: XP Event
It will go down as the event that showed the industry how to combine dozens of best practices and the hottest event marketing trends into a single blockbuster campaign. And it proved that experiential marketing had the power to drive $1 billion in sales.
The event, Call of Duty: XP, immersed fans in “Modern Warfare 3,” which Activision was then rolling out as the latest in its popular Call of Duty video game series. The two-day, open-air experience pitted attendees against each other in real-life contests and electronic gameplay more than three months before the game hit retail shelves.
More than 6,000 fans paid $150 to attend the event—Activision donated proceeds to a non- profit that helps veterans transition to civilian life—which took place on a 16-acre compound in Los Angeles. Activision and the event’s lead sponsor, Microsoft Xbox 360, offered a $1 million prize to the winner of a Call of Duty tournament. Microsoft also provided the 7,600 Xbox gaming stations, while Jeep sponsored a driving course. There were keynote speeches, news confer- ences, discussion panels and Q&A sessions with Call of Duty developers, who offered a behind- the-scenes look at the game’s creation.
Inside an airplane hangar, fans could find dis- plays of military weapons and combat gear, as well as Call of Duty concept art and exhibits on the game’s history. There was also an obstacle course and there were paintball fights and military-style zip lines. Kanye West launched his latest concert tour, with his full show set and dancers in tow. Activision used social media with constant updates, interviews and photos to give fans around the world a fair approximation of the live event.
The first day was an exclusive VIP press preview followed by two days of consumer and press brand immersion. The event kicked off as thousands gathered in a darkened theater with the intense sounds of helicopters overhead, followed by huge explosions and a light show as the Modern Warfare 3 commercial played. Gameplay was demoed on a 100-foot wide LED screen as sound shook the room. Then Activision ceo Eric Hirshberg dropped the real bomb—attendees would get to play the game three months before it hit retail shelves.
XP triggered $775 million in MW3 sales in its first five days and the game became the first entertainment launch to reach $1 billion. XP garnered an epic 2.4 billion impressions and $21.5 million in earned media coverage. Its live stream of the championship final dominated online and social networking and was the second highest viewed live stream event ever.