The Sledgehammer NY Launch Experience was beyond anything I could imagine. Just to be able to spend time in that great city, retrace the steps of our first few missions, and meet the fans, was an honor that to me is really unparalleled. Don Veca our Audio Director, Brett Robbins our Creative director, David Swenson our Senior Sound designer, and myself the Animation Director, all landed at JFK on Nov 5th, 2 days before launch.
Unfortunately it was the same day as the New York Marathon so our first hours in the city consisted of sitting in Traffic. However, once we were out of the cab, it was clear that this trip would be something memorable. The city was filled with bus stops, Cabs, and billboards with our advertising on it. Nothing was more impressive than the amazing MW3 Noob/Vet signage and billboards in Times Square.
The thing that really stood out to me was the amazing fan reception. From getting comp'd "Guest of New York" passes to walk right onto the ferries and over to the Statue of Liberty, to spending close to an hour talking and taking photos with New York Fireman, who were the ultimate "superfans", it was probably the single most memorable experience of my 16 year professional career.
Everywhere we went there were "shout outs" and people asking questions about our MW3 gear that we wore proudly. On Tuesday we decided to go downtown and retrace all the steps of the "Black Tuesday" mission. We literally started at the stock exchange and worked our way backwards, through "Tiffany's", through "15 Broad", all the way back to where your Humvee crashes in the intro sequence. Having some time to be out enjoying the city and its sights was really great, especially with such memorable interactions.
Tuesday Night we showed up at our respective Gamestops around 9pm. My Gamestop in particular was right across the street from Best Buy, and at all venues the lines had already formed. Entering the store, it was jam packed with fans.
Immediately the signing began! Posters, Boxes, Game Consoles, Game Covers, you name it, and the people hadn't even picked up their copies of the game yet. Things piled up for us to sign faster than our pens could move. This carried on for about an hour or two.
Apparently people realized that the line stretching outside to pick up the games was far longer than anyone could have guessed... All the fans had evacuated the store and taken up their position in the streets, waiting anxiously for the clock to strike midnight so the pickups could begin. We quickly pre-signed a ton of posters and game covers and decided to step outside to get some fresh air. Looking down the street I literally couldn't see the end of the line...I'd say 3-4 blocks down then rounding a corner.
After stepping back into the store, there continued to be a relatively constant flow of people coming in and wanting to take pictures with us and what not until midnight approached. As 11:59 came and went, the atmosphere outside started to resemble that of New Years eve. 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1....................ROOOOAAARRRR!!!!!!!
The cheering and honking outside as midnight hit was crazy and the line began to flow into the store. At that point it was just take pictures and sign EVERYTHING. A few scattered media interviews, but in general just a ton of fan interaction. Never have I seen fans with such passion and excitement for anything. Many of them shared their gamertags with me on that night and have been killing me endlessly online ever since. All in all it was a 3 days that I will never forget.
More Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Global Launch recaps to come!
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