The Anatomy Of A Game Launch Party: Modern Warfare 3

There are three types of gaming events. The first is the secret reveal in which we are sent to a location with little idea what we will be shown or what game it will be. 

The second is a gaming day, in which a publisher will show off multiple games and you are shepherded from room to room to spend half an hour with the title and possibly get some time hands on.

The third is the gaming launch party, an event we never usually cover as, to be honest, the game is usually the least important part. As publishers spend millions of pounds on these things (which you fund by buying their games), I thought you might like an insight into an area of the gaming world that rarely gets written about in any detail.


Those of you on twitter that night might have seen my running commentary and I will be using those tweets for this item and expanding on the events. So without further ado, it’s time for the biggest party of the year, Modern Warfare 3 is go! Let the tweeting commence!

[drop]Huge queue for mw3, which I can skip as I have a wristband.
7PM and it’s a dark and stormy night in That London. Upon arriving at the venue, I find about four hundred people outside. Thanks to the snazzy MW3 wristband I can skip the queue (and the rain) and head straight in.

Massive MW3 logo projected across the Thames, also hunky soldiers.
Activision is beaming the words “Modern Warfare 3” across the river onto adjacent buildings and HMS Belfast is lit in Modern Warfare green. Numerous out of work waiters actors are dotted outside, all dressed in combat gear looking slightly annoyed in the drizzle. A couple of them look rather rotund for trained soldiers.

Activision has flashed the cash for an impressive ‘augmented reality’ show projected on the side of the building which makes the structure appear to pulse and fold. Green lines zip round the stone structures and the Eiffel tower unfolds on one side. It looks very expensive and almost certainly is.

If you’re watching the live feed I should be on screen … Hello!
Rather than a red carpet, we have a green carpet with the U.K. press out in force awaiting the celebrities. Outside (and all throughout the venue) there are TV crews who are broadcasting the night across the globe to millions watching on a live feed. I strike a pose and walk the walk.

The cavernous venue, London’s Old Billingsgate Market, can easily hold a couple of thousand people. To the left is the performance stage (covered up at the moment), in the middle are the bars with literally thousands of cocktails on them and to the right a gaming area with about sixty Xbox 360s. Behind them is a second stage which will be used to chat to important people from Activision.

The problem I now have is my massive intolerance to alcohol and five hours of free bar.
Yes I know, I am wuss. It’s not my fault my body can’t handle alcohol. I’m sure it won’t be a problem.

Jason whatshisface being interviewed on live feed.
That will be Jason Bradbury from The Gadget show. Hardly A-list but he’s the first person on the live feed (which is being screened on huge TVs across the venue) whom I recognise.

Watching the London Underground bit
Does it resemble a terrorist bombing? No.

It’s started! Danny Wallace presenting.
Comedians seem to be the go-to’s for gaming events. Danny is quite charming and inoffensive, obviously knows who is paying his wages. He presides over the European Modern Warfare championship final and, hurrah, the U.K. wins! Well done us!

The French launch party is tiny.
London hosted the main party but there were smaller events across Europe. By smaller I mean a hundred people in a cramped room, a far cry from the extravagance here. We also get a video link to Germany and Benelux. ‘It’s like the Eurovision Song Contest’ chirrups Danny, ‘United Kingdom, nil points’ deadpans the German presenter.

Celeb update: Footballers. I have no idea who they are.
As I mentioned, the game is the least important part of these events (as indicated by the many empty chairs in front of the Xbox 360 consoles), this event is to grab the headlines in Heat magazine and the Daily Star the next day. At the moment the celebs are a bit thin on the ground, I do recognise some football types but that’s not my area of expertise so I could not name them.

This is not a proper game launch. Where is the mini food?!? Fail!
A running joke with the TSA staff is ‘mini food’: normal food that has been miniaturised and the only place you get it is at gaming events. For example the Starhawk reveal had mini fish and chips with tiny portions of Cod and the PSN video launch had some very tasty burgers the size of a UMD but so far there was not a sniff of microscopic noms. It had better turn up soon or the games press will riot.

Those pert buttocks on the live feed behind the guy being interviewed? Mine. Oh yes.
This was entirely by coincidence I assure you. I was busy tweeting and looked up at the video feed to see my bum being beamed across the world.

Suppose I’d better go play the game rather than tweet about celebs.
It’s quite good. Had about an hour on the single player which can best be described as ‘bombastic’. The multiplayer looks a little rough to me, all boxy and sharp corners. Curved objects and special effects are apparently rare in the 60FPS world of CoD multiplayer.

You can get dressed up and be green screened onto the cover of the game. And no I’m not before you even suggest it.
I spent hours picking out what to wear and you want me to get changed? I think not. Activision has also imported ‘The Call Of Duty Experience’ from the CoDXP event held in the U.S.A. earlier this year. This involved running about and shooting people with lasers, it looked very energetic so I decided to have a drink instead.  

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  1. Ah Activision. If only they would invest the money they use for promotion in the actual game…

    • Ah, Klart, if only you had a clue how business works.

      • But I do, haven’t you seen the recent article mentioning my abilities to predict the gaming future and even being named the new Pachter?

      • I think Klart was angling more for “if only you put in the same effort developing the game as you did marketing it” although they know how to get the best from the title and marketing it to the entire world pays off each time.

        Regarding Klart’s mystic ability: He stands unrivalled at 100% success so heed his prophetic posts. ;)

    • They could’ve though, Blur, that other Shooter… Singularity??

      • Blur had an equally great party with Plan B performing live. Shame the game didnt sell well, it was a decent arcade racer. That was where I met the Hayemaker for the first time. Lovely, lovely chap.

    • How much was stumpted up my Micorshaft though?

  2. Nice – the “walk walk walk right in!!” made be laugh! Wish I had seen your tweets live! Thoroughly enjoyable read, if a bit astonishing how much of our money goes on this kind of thing!

  3. It’s

    • *it’s always little kids who spam friend requests. Soo annoying! Watch people on Machinima and all you can see is just friend requests popup every second or messages in the subject line on PS3.
      Lol C list celebrities.

  4. Yeah the tweets was funny especially when the drinks were taking effect lol.
    Wish I joined the party I would have went Crazy! (Probs get chucked out!)

  5. Joey Barton…. resprenting Uk.. of all people

    • Indeed – But i do now have a new found respect for him after slating TOWIE as he did.

      No idea what he said about it of course (apart from what is written above), but it can’t be that bad… Right? :S

      • Actually he was really, really vile. By all means take the piss but calling the ladies fat cows and slappers crosses the line.

      • Ah, ok – Didn’t realise it was quite to that extent.

        Gentle mickey-taking of orangeness, or generally being a bit dim would be the acceptable norm, but that is taking things a bit too far.

  6. “For example the Starhawk reveal had mini fish and chips with tiny portions of Cod”

    Surely they missed a trick with the food then – Cod/CoD?

    Never before has a food item been more relevant.

  7. TC- Lucky for Activision Duncan from Blue wasn’t in attendance huh?

    BTW, The dirty dubstep version of Ride On Time might be “Still Speedin” by SWAY.

  8. Enjoyed this article a lot. Expect to be followed by myself on twitter very soon.

  9. Dead Space 2 launch event were serving 1 chip at a time at one point. Granted, they were fancy, but only one!?

    • Ha ha, that’s just stupid. As is mini food in general..

  10. Great article, Tuffcub. One reason why TSA is so very good.

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