Fan focus as Activision ups the ante in franchise battleground

An intensive live event designed to engage and excite Call of Duty fans will make them forget all about EA’s rival Battlefield.

That’s presumably the intention of publisher Activision, which announced the COD XP event last week.XP is billed as the ultimate, fully-immerse live experience” by Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg.

Taking place in September, it will feature several world reveals relating to new game Modern Warfare 3, host an Xbox 360-backed $1m tournament for clans and showcase performances by triple-A music talent, plus real-life recreations of key locations from Modern Warfare 2.

6,000 live attendees are expected to attend, but all proceedings will also be broadcast online, and all money raised from each $150 ticket goes to an endowment for war veterans.

We want to give a great experience back to our community,” Hirsherg told MCV. We are lucky to have millions of passionate fans worldwide and there is real critical mass in the interest in the next game and the franchise in general.”

That should mean plenty of coverage at a time when Activision is feeling the pressure from EA, with its rival game Battlefield 3, which launches in the UK on October 28th, a little over a week ahead of MW3.

There is obviously a lot of scepticism we are dealing with, and as I’ve said before we have something to prove – but our developers Sledgehammer and Infinity Ward are creating the best game yet,” said Hirshberg.

He added that much-demanded info from fans including multiplayer and a first look at the feature set of online service Call of Duty Elite will be detailed at XP.An attention-grabbing event should help strengthen the core of the COD fanbase at the very moment it is under most heavy fire.

Said Hirshberg: There is tremendous pressure to make games stickier and more connective than ever. That’s happening in a lot of areas of our culture, and gamers are spending more time with fewer games. We respond to that by pouring more innovation, connectivity and resource into those titles.

He added: But first and foremost, we’re doing Call of Duty XP to give back to our fans. It will also increase passion and allow us to speak directly to them – that’s of course part of our intention. That’s also part of their desire as players, to engage more and more.

We are incredibly lucky to have a passionate fanbase who follow COD closely, and want to know every little thing about it.”

And a huge chunk of that audience is in the UK. XP takes place in LA. So what about a UK or Europe event?Hirschberg added: We’ve no plans for that right now – we’re focused on this first one. The event will be befitting to the biggest franchise in the world.”

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