Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare was announced in a big way earlier this year, particularly when a spaceship appeared over in the popular Call of Duty: Black Ops III multiplayer map, Nuk3town and a character from the upcoming game—Lieutenant Reyes—appeared on the map’s TV screens to invite players to get on Facebook Messenger. On Messenger, fans could interact with a chatbot posing as Reyes and could unlock a special Easter egg from the interaction: a look at the upcoming Infinite Warfare trailer before the rest of the world.
The chatbot went on to create over 6 million exchanges within 24 hours. With Infinite Warfare set to launch on November 4, Activision is out to re-engage the 24 million Call of Duty Facebook fans with an all-new Messenger experience: Terminal Tours. The experience, which launched yesterday, features a guide named Alana, who takes players on a tour of the solar system, highlighting different locations related to Infinite Warfare, such as the moon, an asteroid, Europa and Titan. She’ll present users with choices along the way, like whether to push a button, and some will lead to hilarious GIF-generating results.
Terminal Tours features actress and musician, Kate Micucci (Scrubs; Garfunkel and Oates), who gives a face to Alana as users embark on a comical Choose Your Own Adventure-style experience.
Activision’s SVP of consumer engagement, digital marketing and PR, Monte Lutz, spoke to [a]listdaily about using Facebook Messenger to engage with fans in a personalized way.
What inspired the creation of the original Facebook Messenger bot featuring Lt. Reyes?
For our hardcore fans, Call of Duty isn’t a passive experience that you jump into for a few days and leave behind; they are still playing for hours on end, six, nine or even 12 months after the game launches. So, when we thought about how we wanted to introduce the new game, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, to our most loyal fans, we knew that there was no better place than within the game they were still playing. So, we updated Call of Duty: Black Ops III and placed Easter eggs in the game that drove fans to Messenger so that they could interact with the lead character for the next game. Messenger was the only platform that had the tools in place (bots) and community at scale (24 million Call of Duty Facebook fans) to create a one-to-one experience for fans but on a massive scale, giving them a totally unique Call of Duty experience.
How does the new Messenger experience differ from the original one?
The original experience started in-game, as the enemies of the newest Call of Duty game, Infinite Warfare, invaded the current Call of Duty game at the time, Black Ops III. That experience, dubbed Hostile Takeover, took place at reveal and was designed to engage core players and give them a chance to be the first people to hear about the new game.
Terminal Tours, on the other hand, is coming out on the eve of launch, so we are both talking to current players and re-engaging fans who are getting ready for Infinite Warfare to launch on November 4. The Messenger experience is coupled with our new live-action spot, “Screw It, Let’s Go to Space,” which both takes an irreverent approach to showing players all the fun they can have in space.
What does using Facebook’s sponsored messages allow you to do that you couldn’t before?
The sponsored messages helped us to reach the people who participated in the first Messenger experience and invite them to check out Terminal Tours. This is an audience that both loves our games and had fun engaging with the Lt. Reyes Messenger bot we created earlier this year, so they are the most likely group to dive into the new experience. Sponsored messages provided a direct line to re-engage them. Getting this core group excited, in turn, led them to share and invite their friends to get involved, bringing more people into the Messenger experience and the Call of Duty universe.
What are some of the things you can talk to Alana about?
Alana plays the part of your trusted tour guide, showing you the locations you will play the new game in, while divulging bits of the in-game story. But she also has the bad habit of steering you toward making terribly dangerous decisions in each of the game’s locations she takes you to. You’re responsible for pushing the buttons that result in your various “accidents” but she happily shines a light on them, in highly GIF-able ways. Alana is more Dolores than the Man in Black (characters from Westworld), but you still end up with a lot of “oops, that looks painful” [reactions].
In this vein, Alana’s also able to recognize natural language prompts about you (“who am I?”), the game (“who is Setdef?”) and questions about recent pop culture events, ranging from the World Series to Westworld and Pokémon GO.
Are Messenger bots and narratives changing the way games like Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare engages with their fans?
We see Messenger as an important part of our ongoing digital channel strategy and our approach to mass personalization. Messenger bots allow us to reach people in a very personal way through the accessible and interactive format of text chat, combined with GIFs, images and characters in an automated way at scale that wasn’t previously possible. We have millions of fans—tens of millions. Through Messenger, we can create unique experiences for each of them that teach players about the games while answering questions they have and having a little fun in the process.
What’s your favorite place to visit with Terminal Tours?
The asteroid. Gets me every time.