LOS ANGELES – "Call of Duty" is coming to life.
Fans of the shoot-'em-up franchise are converging Friday on the sprawling 12-acre (5-hectare) compound where Howard Hughes built the Spruce Goose for the inaugural "Call of Duty XP" convention, a two-day event celebrating the Activision Blizzard Inc. military shooter with game previews, real-world recreations of "Call of Duty" levels and a performance by Kanye West.
"It's really in response to the strength of the "Call of Duty" franchise and the passion of our fans," said Eric Hirshberg, CEO of Activision Publishing, which organized the event. "We have fans who play our game every day -- more than they go on Facebook -- and enough fans in multiplayer every day to fill the 80 largest sports stadiums in the world."
Hirshberg expects 7,000 attendees at the sold-out event, which will serve as the unveiling for the multiplayer mode of the upcoming "Modern Warfare 3." Tickets cost $150 and include a special edition of "Modern Warfare 3." Proceeds will go to the Call of Duty Endowment, a nonprofit organization that Activision founded to assist military veterans.
Besides previewing "Modern Warfare 3" and the "Elite" online service, attendees will have the chance to zip around in a Jeep, spar on two paintball courses modeled after "Modern Warfare 2" levels, grab grub from an eatery resembling the game's fictitious Burger Town fast food chain, and meet some of the franchise's various developers and voice actors.
Hirshberg said the extravaganza was kept intentionally compact to avoid long lines and give hardcore fans "an A-plus experience." For those who can't attend but want in on the action, supermodel Marisa Miller will host streaming videos from "Call of Duty XP." Miller said she's no stranger to "Call of Duty." Her father and husband are both die-hard players.
"The way we play is my husband will show me what's up in the specific map that we're going to play through and then he'll give me the controller, and I'll have a go at it," said Miller. "My husband is really intense about it. He's really good. I'm just the type of player who likes to sit behind the wall with my sniper rifle and pick people off that way."
For the past four years, the immersive "Call of Duty" franchise has enjoyed unprecedented success. The latest title, "Black Ops," has sold more than 25 million copies worldwide since its launch last November, and more than 7 million people play online every day. The upcoming globe-trotting "Modern Warfare 3" edition is scheduled for release Nov. 8.