Call of Duty Elite, the gamer social network for Call of Duty fans, isn’t off to a great start. The Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 online multiplayer gaming service is working fine. But Activision Blizzard acknowledges that it is facing some issues as it copes with a surge in demand for the service.

[Update: See our updated story for the latest information on Call of Duty Elite’s startup difficulties].

“Registration requests for our new live service Call of Duty Elite are exceeding even our most optimistic expectations, which is creating a bottleneck and some players have not been able to register,” Beachhead studio head Chacko Sonny said in a statement. “We have already registered hundreds of thousands of players and we are working around the clock to increase our capacity as quickly as possible.”

More information will be available on @CallofDutyElite on Twitter for status updates. If users have registered, their statistics will still be tracked even if they cannot access Elite. Our review of Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 is here.

I had no problem getting in to access Call of Duty Elite and seeing my own play statistics. But I haven’t yet tried to sign up for the premium service.

Beachhead Studios worked on the Elite service as a social network for all things Call of Duty for more than two years. The goal was to integrate the service deeply with Modern Warfare 3. Since Activision Blizzard dedicated a full studio to Elite, it is considered a major investment.

Even before the launch of Modern Warfare 3, the Call of Duty community is already one of the strongest there is. More than 30 million people have played online this year and 20 million players play each month. On average, the Call of Duty player plays 170 hours of the game per year. That’s as much time spent as watching the full series of the Sopranos and Lost, combined.

It’s too bad that the service isn’t working perfectly at the start, since Activision Blizzard has said that this service is a way to keep hardcore gamers happy year round, not just for a few weeks a year after they play a game. This hiccup follows news that the Elite service for the PC has been delayed beyond the launch window of Modern Warfare 3.

It’s not a good showing, but at least gamers are able to play multiplayer online. Activision Blizzard is charging $49.99 a year for subscriptions to the premium version of Elite.

Right now, users upload their best antics, home-made movies, and accomplishments — such as the “Tomahawk kill of the day” in the game to YouTube. Those videos have been viewed 75 million times already. Now the social network will be able to draw attention to those videos far more easily via its Elite TV section.

The service’s menus focus on four main concepts: career, connect, compete, and improve. With the “career” tab, you can see your own aggregate performance stats. You can see each player’s “kill/death ratio,” or the number of times the player has killed another or been killed. You can browse through the data from every match you have played. There are metrics on everything, such as your accuracy rate firing the Famas assault rifle on a particular map.

Under “connect,” players will be able to form their own groups based on interests. Players can join up to 64 groups, such as a group dedicated to Bay Area fans of the San Francisco Giants. The groups allow you to compete in a smaller social circle rather than try to beat people who have superstar status on overall leaderboards. In the groups, you can keep tabs on the stats of your friends and do a direct comparison between your own stats and your friends’.

Players can only play in one clan, which is a single team dedicated to multiplayer combat. There can be as many as 128 players in a clan.

Within the “compete” menu, players can compete in leagues or “operations.” The latter are events where players try to be the first to do something, like get five long-distance kills with a ballistic knife. You can also compete by uploading the funniest screen shot. In these kinds of competitions, even casual players like me stand a chance of winning a prize. Prizes will include new Jeep vehicles.