After some exciting meetings in late October here at Stack HQ we’d been wracking our brains to figure out a way to capture and amplify the excitement we’ve seen from past game releases on gaming.stackexchange.com. And then, like an alchemical reaction, or a flashbang sent from the Military Gods, it hit us: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 was coming out the same week as Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim! Two epic games coming out a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving – one with a history of popularity on our site, and one promising to be one of the largest media releases of all time.
The ideas bubbled like molten armor-grade steel after that–a contest pitting these two titans of gaming against one another! Plus a launch party! Here, at our swank-esque New York office! 30-inch monitors! 7 Xboxes! Projector screens! Beer! Film ourselves getting the games at midnight release events! Food! A DJ! Livestream it! Professional comedians providing color commentary! Invite bloggers, podcasters and users! Create a custom landing page to compile page views, questions asked and a real time Awesometer to measure which game was winning! More beer! Oh, and do it all in a week and a half. Ruroh…
But we did it! And it was fun! I’ll tell you all about the work we did in meat space to prepare and throw this event without a hitch, but if you just want to hear about the ether-space stuff, skip to the last paragraphs like a Special Forces operative on a pointstreak (you know… quickly).
We decided to employ some old-fashioned guerrilla marketing while ensuring that we get all the games we needed by attending the midnight releases of Call of Duty: MW3 and Elder Scroll V: Skyrim and filming our experience. Both release events were learning experiences: I learned how to do ‘man on the street’ type interviews while fending off security guards, Abby learned how to juggle all the equipment while laughing, and Brett relearned the art of editing an hour of footage to 3-5 minutes in a single afternoon. We all learned how to get away from ranting crazy people who like cameras for explaining their crazy rants.
We decided on a dual party, with themed areas for both games. PCs on one side of the room, X-boxes on the other, two projectors displaying the main players for both games. The gaming area was filled all night with excellent color commentary provided by NYC comedians Rob Stern and Jeremy Bent. Among our special guests were College Humor writer and host of the ‘Jeff Rubin Jeff Rubin Podcast’, Jeff Rubin; actor, comedian, rugby player and nerd Jon Gabrus; and New York fashion celebrities, entrepreneurs, restaurateurs, and serious MW3 players Dee and Ricky. We also had the pleasure of one of our top users, LessPop_More Fizz, coming by to game with us.
Of course, the whole point of the event was to pit Skyrim against Modern Warfare 3. To do that, we’d need a scientific way to detect their awesomeness. Thus was born the awesometer, a precisely calibrated, impossibly accurate meter that compared the total view counts of each game and then wiggled around randomly. It’s tantalizing gyrations kept us glued to the giant monitor on the wall in our office for days.
Were all of our efforts worth it? Well, some impressive numbers were generated. Lots of people tuned into the Livestream, and both games exploded out of the gates with questions, answers and page views for the games. Overall, we almost quadrupled the number of questions we usually get, and our views went up 500%!
Of course, most of that was from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
We had anticipated fewer questions for CoD: MW3 since it’s not a game type that generates quite as many questions as a the rich universe of a RPG like Skyrim, and our community has skewed heavily into the PC gaming universe for a long time. However, I don’t think any of us were expecting Skyrim to slaughter MW3 like a suckling dragon, especially since this CoD iteration has apparently sold more units than either Titantic or Avatar. So suck on that James Cameron! Good luck directing your next… videogame? Not sure why that fact is being tossed around the internet, but suffice it to say that CoD sold a LOT of units, but Skyrim still destroyed it like a temple after being challenged to a drinking contest by a rogue monk. Or some better metaphor than that. I’ll stop, and give you the cold, hard facts (to be read in a fact-giving voice):
Questions: 445 for Skyrim, 100 for MW3
Answers: 963 for Skyrim, 143 for MW3
Views: 783,955 for Skyrim, 23,549
Headshots: 1 for Skyrim, 0 for MW3
So clearly Skyrim won. But when we compare Modern Warfare 3 to last year’s Black Ops release, we see that we did get more questions, answers, and views than we had for months last year. So…mission accomplished!
And our winners! Who could forget them! We are excited to present the following awards:
Top MW3 Question:
Top MW3 Answer:
Top Skyrim Question:
Top Skyrim Answer:
Overall we were extremely pleased to see so many great users generate so much quality, useful content for their site. Thanks again, everyone, and we can’t wait for the next one!
A million thanks go out to the team: David Fullerton, Sean Gallagher, Emmett Nicholas, Abby T. Miller, Brett White (and me, but that’s weird because I’m writing this), the tireless tech team George Beech, Peter Grace, and Alex Miller and many other Stack Exchange employees for lending their inhuman brutish strength for the set up. It is only due to their tireless diligence that the complex elements of this event came together as well as they did.
Totally unrelated, but I need a muscle healing potion… for a friend… a friend who has weak noodle arms, and shouldn’t have carried all those 30 inch monitors down a flight of stairs by themselves… has anyone seen a potions peddler recently? NOOOODLE ARMS!
Noodle-arms signing off!