Millions of Call of Duty
fans now have their own equivalent to QuakeCon and BlizzCon -- a new fan-focused meetup called "Call of Duty XP 2011."
The event, taking place in L.A. on September 2 and 3 this year during Labor Day weekend, will be total fan service, with on-hands access to the next Call of Duty
, interactions with development talent and even real-life recreations of Call of Duty
maps such as The Pit (paintball only, no live rounds).
But the biggest news about Call of Duty XP isn't the live entertainment, the 12-acre "compound" that will host the event or the 6,000 fans that are expected to pay for entry: it's the fact that all of the proceeds will be going to the Call of Duty Endowment, Activision's non-profit charitable program that helps military veterans land jobs after returning home from their overseas missions.
"One hundred percent of the proceeds will be donated to the Call of Duty Endowment," Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg told Gamasutra. Tickets go on sale July 19
"...The event is costing us considerably more than we would've earned through ticket sales anyway, so part of this is about raising money for a cause that we really believe in, and part of this is about giving the gift of a kickass experience back to the fans," he said.
So just how much money would Activision have generated if it pocketed the money? At $150 a ticket and 6,000 expected attendees, total ticket sales would be $900,000. (By comparison, last year's much more established BlizzCon attracted around 27,000 fans.)
But it's not only military veterans and Call of Duty
fans who that will benefit -- a little bit of pre-launch hype never hurts an upcoming video game. The September timing of the event is also close to the November 8 release date of Activision's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
. Call of Duty XP will have the game's development talent from Sledgehammer and Infinity Ward "front and center," although the event technically spans across the entire series, including the most recent Black Ops
entry from Treyarch.
Hirshberg said Activision will offer off-site fans plenty of free videos of keynote speeches, panels, game footage and other happenings from the event, but those that come in person will get hands-on time with Modern Warfare 3
multiplayer and a new Spec Ops mode, along with access to other unannounced live events.
Attendees will also be able to experience the much-discussed
Call of Duty Elite premium online service, which is launching with Modern Warfare 3
. Activision will additionally host a $1 million Call of Duty
tournament, along with the event's lead sponsor, Xbox 360.
The extent of the mainstream commercial appeal of the Call of Duty
franchise is well-known in the game industry. In a little over two months after its launch, 2009's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
had generated $1 billion in revenues. Last year's Call of Duty: Black Ops
reached that milestone in just six weeks.
The point is, Call of Duty
has had a huge fanbase for years -- why just now start throwing a massive party for fans? "I've been here for just under a year myself, but I feel like the size of this franchise has reached such a critical mass that it just felt like a no-brainer to do something that would just thrill the fans and build that connection with the game," Hirshberg said.
And while there will be immediate comparisons to other video game events, Hirshberg said Activision is trying to set a new standard for fan conventions. But he still wouldn't commit yet to Call of Duty XP 2012 or beyond. "We'll have to see," he said when asked about making it an annual event. "It's certainly something we're thinking about...we're just going to see how it goes."