Sledgehammer Games - home to Dead Space creators Glen Schofield and Michael Condrey - will develop this year's "highly innovative" Call of Duty, Activision has announced in its Q4 2013 earnings call.
Rather shockingly, the publisher has also revealed that three developers will work on Call of Duty games in tandem from this point on - Infinity Ward, Treyarch and Sledgehammer. Activision will still release a Call of Duty game every year, which means that each studio will have three years to develop a game.Attachment 13661
The move is seemingly a reaction to popular misgivings about Call of Duty: Ghosts, released in November. The game has apparently sold well - according to Activision Blizzard president Bobby Kotick, it "was the number one game across all platforms and the number one next generation game on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in both North America and Europe in the fourth quarter" - but has reaped the lowest review scores of any Call of Duty title on Xbox 360.
This year's Call of Duty will be "perhaps the best Call of Duty game ever created", Kotick promised. Chief financial officer Dennis Durkin added that it will be "highly innovative", but was unable to say why. Let's take a rain-check on that.
Switching to a three-year development cycle will "ensure even greater levels of innovation and creative excellence for each Call of Duty title", according to Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg.
"There are several advantages of doing this," he continued. "The first is, of course quality. This will give our designers more time to envision and to innovate for each title. Simultaneously it will give our content creators more focus on DLC and micro DLC, which as you know have become large and high margin opportunities and significant engagement drivers.
"Finally, it will give our teams more time to polish, helping to ensure that we delivered the best possible experience to our fans each and every time."
Naturally, Hirshberg had warm words for Sledgehammer, which he described as "a AAA studio built from the ground up around proven talent with a 90 plus rate of pedigree, both in studio leadership and throughout the organization".
"They've demonstrated their skill on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and on their past highly rated games. They are the perfect choice to support our new approach and bring fresh ideas and creativity to this great franchise and to raise the bar for next-gen games overall, which we believe they can do. We look forward to sharing more details on future calls.
Attachment 13662"Looking forward to 2014, as both Bobby and I said, we think we have a superlative game in the works and that we have some new approaches this year that we think are going to be very positive, with the three-year development cycle with the injection as a lucrative leadership from some very intelligent folks at Sledgehammer games. And that we think the 2014 game is going to be one of if not the best Call of Duty game ever."
Any thoughts on the likelihood of that, boys and girls? I think I may have heard this tune before, but the three-year dev cycle could have dramatic implications.