Call Of Duty: Black Ops 3 developer Treyarch has apologised for a PR stunt that sought to trick people into believing a terrorist attack had occurred in Singapore. A series of 20 tweets detailed a fake large scale attack before revealing it to be a "glimpse into the future fiction" of its game.
The apology does not come from the marketing team responsible, or from publishers Activision, but from the game's senior executive producer, Jason Blundell, who told IGN: "It was absolutely not done for any kind of attention in any way. It was not done maliciously, or as any kind of scare tactic. I personally am very sorry for anyone who looked at it and got the wrong idea because it genuinely wasn't meant that way."
The official Call Of Duty account was dressed up to appear like a news aggregator, with a new profile and header images and a profile bio that read: "Where we bring you real news." The subsequent series of tweets described an initial attack in Singapore, a state of emergency being declared, drones flying overhead, riot police on the streets and the setting up of quarantine.
There was even a fictional statement from James Chung, the entirely made up commander of the Singapore Armed Forces. You can read the series of tweets in chronological order at the Storify we have created.
"It was done on our channel, and it was to talk about the fiction of the world," Blundell said. "I think we were as shocked as everybody else when it started blowing up, because essentially we were teeing up ready 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."
His claim that it was "not done for any kind of attention" is bizarre given the nature of Twitter and the fact it was so clearly a PR stunt. PR stunts by definition are intended to garner attention. Whether or not anyone in fell for it is beside the point, live-tweeting a fake terrorist attack to 2.8 million people is a terrible thing to do. It's not like Call of Duty needs the publicity anyway.