Eric Hirshberg, the newly-appointed CEO of Activision Publishing, thinks that it may be an uphill battle to correct his company’s reputation in the eyes of hardcore gamers, but it’s one worth fighting.

Back in April, Activision Publishing CEO Mike Griffith – not to be confused with Activision-Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick – stepped down. His recently-appointed replacement is “dedicated gamer” Eric Hirshberg, reported Gamasutra, whose prior work as an advertiser may be more well-known to gamers than we think: He was previously the CEO and chief creative officer at the firm behind the genius Kevin Butler campaign for Sony.

Hirshberg has certainly scored a win with the Butler character, but there’s a problem bigger than Sony’s previously-incomprehensible advertising ahead of him now – Activision’s reputation amongst the “hardcore gaming blogosphere.” Speaking with Gamasutra, Hirshberg admitted that there were problems. “You sort of can’t escape that there’s some perceptual problems and an air of controversy, certainly right now.”

“I don’t think that’s anything that’s widely-held in the consumer community,” said Hirshberg, and he’s probably correct in that most of the millions of people buying Call of Duty: The Next One have no idea who Bobby Kotick is. “[But] I definitely think it’s something that we need to correct. A company that has so many of the world’s most beloved games should have the reputational momentum to match, amongst gamers.”

One of the ways Hirshberg could tackle the matter would be to use gamers’ sense of humor, as he did with the Kevin Butler character. As it stands, he thinks that videogame marketing feels a bit too serious. “I think that video games are fun, they’re entertainment, and advertising should take on that tonality,” said Hirshberg, who says that his favorite games include Call of Duty and LittleBigPlanet.

It’ll be a hard battle for sure, and it’s not a task I envy him for. So here’s a free tip, Eric: Teach Bobby Kotick that gamers don’t hear the same meaning behind “exploit” as investors do. Or rather, how about you just teach him to think about who’s listening before he says things? That might help a little bit.


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