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Activision hires advertising veteran as chief executive of publishing

July 13, 2010 | 10:30 am

Eric Hirshberg Video game giant Activision Blizzard Inc. has tapped Eric Hirshberg, the head of major advertising agency Deutsch's Los Angeles office, as chief executive of its publishing unit.

In his role as chief executive of Activision publishing, Hirshberg will oversee operations for all of the company's production and marketing with the exception of its Blizzard unit, the producer of World of Warcraft and other online games.

Activision's publishing unit has one of the largest franchises in the gaming industry with Call of Duty, though the top creative talent behind last year's mega-hit Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 have left and are embroiled in bitter lawsuits with the company.

Other Activision titles include Guitar Hero, which remains popular but saw sales shrink significantly last year as the fervor for music video games faded. The recently released Blur, a driving game for which Activision had high hopes, debuted to a disappointing 31,000 units sold in the U.S. in May.

Still, Activision remains the world's most profitable video game company, thanks in large part to its Blizzard Entertainment business.

Hirshberg replaces Mike Griffith, who was named vice chairman as part of a restructuring at Activision in April. When he starts in September, Hirschberg will report to Thomas Tippl, Activision's chief operating officer. Tippl acquired his title as part of the shakeup and is the Santa Monica-based company's No. 2 executive under Chief Executive Bobby Kotick.

Like many senior executives at Activision Blizzard, Hirschberg comes from outside the video game industry. He has led Deutsch LA for the last 13 years, most recently holding the titles of chief executive and chief creative officer. While there he worked on marketing campaigns for Sony's PlayStation 3 console and for DirecTV.

In a statement, Kotick said Hirshberg fit the profile he was seeking of "a dedicated gamer [and] inspired creative thinker [who] possessed the ability to manage and lead creative talent in a manner that produced both superior products and provided superior shareholder returns."

-- Ben Fritz and Alex Pham

Photo: Eric Hirshberg. Credit: Deutsch LA.

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