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Activision calls in reinforcements for next Call of Duty game

BlackOps1 When the heads of Infinity Ward, the game development studio that created the hit Call of Duty series, were fired last March and most of their top talent quit soon after, publisher Activision Blizzard, said it didn't expect the turmoil to affect operations.

However, Infinity Ward's operations apparently have been affected enough that it has called in reinforcements to make the next Call of Duty military game. The studio was able to pull off prior games without aid, as it did with 2008's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and 2006's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.

Activision has quietly tapped Sledgehammer Games, a Northern California studio, to help out with the making of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, according to people familiar with the situation. The game has not been officially announced by Activision. But the title is well into production and is expected to come out in November, the same month that the publisher has annually released a new Call of Duty installment, people with knowledge of situation said. Modern Warfare 3 will be the first game Infinity Ward has produced since the departure of of company co-founders Jason West and Vince Zampella.

People close to the matter said Infinity Ward is working closely with Sledgehammer, which is led by a team recruited away from Activision's rival Electronic Arts Inc. The two studios are equally sharing duties of producing the single-player portion of the game, the sources said.

Activision has also brought in Wisconsin-based Raven Software, which is working on the online multi-player elements for Modern Warfare 3, sources said.

The decision to seek outside help is a departure for Activision, which in the past has left Infinity Ward alone to develop the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare games. The approach paid off, as the last two Modern Warfare games sold 13 million and 20 million units, respectively.

But pulling in the Sledgehammer team to help out on Modern Warfare 3 is creating a domino effect by forcing Activision to delay the start of production on a new Call of Duty spin-off game that the studio had begun working on before the upheaval at Infinity Ward, the people said.

This isn't just war games, as it were. Producing Call of Duty games on an annual schedule is critical to Activision. It's one of two franchises -- along with World of Warcraft -- upon which the video game giant is dependent for most of its revenue. So missing a release date or rushing out a game before it's ready could upset the company's projected revenue.

Call of Duty: Black Ops, produced by Activision studio Treyarch in 2010, was the best-selling video game in the U.S. last year, as was Modern Warfare 2 in 2009.

A spokesman for Activision declined to comment.


Call of Duty: Black Ops breaks billion-dollar sales barrier

-- Ben Fritz

Image: A scene from Call of Duty: Black Ops.

Comments () | Archives (60)

Interesting developments if you ask me. As a fan it's good to know that Modern Warfare 3 is being developed.

As for an Activision spokesman declining to comment. Over on Joystiq.com you can read the following:

"Activision issued a comment in response to the LAT piece, stating, "There's been much specultion recently. We look forward to releasing details for the next Call of Duty in the near future"

Let's remember that Battlefield 3 will be the Call Of Duty Killer. So they better reinforce it. Since Modern Warfare 2 was terrible, Call Of Duty is on thin ice.

So why should they make another Modern Warfare? The 2nd one was terrible. I'm still holding on to the fact Battlefield was better than Call of Duty. Bad Company 2 went against MW2, and MW2 seemed to fail. So I don't think they should make another fail.

Nicolas C. you obviously have terrible taste in video games. BFBC2 was terrible. If you want to play a real game the Call of Duty series holds all the records for sales, online play, and much more. BFBC3 will probably just be as bad as the last one. I don't think as many people play BFBC2 as much as they play MW2, MW1, or Black Ops. You probably hate COD because when you camp in a corner you get killed all the time.

Why is this news? Sledgehammer doing this was announced a while ago. And they are not an 'outside' studio; they're a wholly owned subsidary of Activision. Digicombat.com has more factual coverage of this.

I LOVED the first Modern Warfare. I played that game more than any other game ever. The second MW was a bit of a disappointment and its horrible to think that most of the staff left. MW3 will probably be subpar.

First, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was the 2007 installment to the series, and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 was 2009. To the other comments, Battlefield wasn't as big as Modern Warfare 2. 2009-2010 was Youtube's major Modern Warfare 2 era of videos. I see more Modern Warfare 2 videos then anything else in the gaming category on Youtube. Even though Black Ops is out, people still stick with Modern Warfare 2 considering their dislike for the servers, and the weapons, and so on. Battlefield 3 can be called the Call of Duty killer all it wants. But, whenever Battlefield brings what Call of Duty has brought to the online gaming community is the day the developers for Call of Duty come up with something so new that it will set Battlefield back another few steps. IW needed help from such a huge loss of employees, due to the this big case between them.

Ahem, Modern Warfare was 2007 and Modern Warfare 2 is 2009.

Oh, by the way I'm just an idiot Battlefield fanboy who likes to jump on the bandwagon cause apparently, everyone posting about Call of Duty is hating it and that makes what I just did cool. Hurray! Oh and I posted two separate comments because I wasn't sure which way to comment on this story would make me feel better. I'll go make to drinking mother's milk and watching Dora the Explorer now. Thank you.

I'm really excited for the next game.


Fascinating development. I was understanding that the Modern Warfare franchise was on hold up until the judicial matters between Activision and Infinity Ward had been solved.

I suppose we will see where this goes.

Hey Nicholas C., why is BC2 in the bargain bin then?

Who ever wrote this needs to get their facts straight. Modern Warfare was released in 2007 and Modern Warfare 2 in 2009. Not 2006 and 2008

MW2 was not horrible. I think the 250k daily live players 7 months after it came out dispel that.

I have enjoyed MW games but not a big fan of Black Ops, I feel it is a step backwards and it definitely has a different feel when playing. Do not know all the details of the firing but if it was to scam the developers out of some deserved bonuses like it was reported it has to be one of the biggest blunders in the industry.

I still have my "Pitfall Harry" patch from my Atari 2600 days, when you had to take a photo of your TV screen and send it by U.S. mail to Activision...ah, those were innocent times...

Seems they used the same format for all their new releases... i got MW, and that's the platform used for the rest.. i'll stick with the original. I can tell these guys have been cheap after... same everything. Look at GTA, they launch a completely new platform and everything with each new game added... which so far is two, dope well made games. COD died with Black Op's, it won't get better than that. Soccom needs to make it to 360.

@ Nicholas,

Are you dumb? Modern Warfare 2 was one of the most critically acclaimed of all time. It is way better than Crap Ops. If you think Modern 2 was a bad game than you really have no say in first person shooters.

This website announced Activision was working on Modern Warfare 3 last week http://callofdutyghost.com/source-confirms-developers-for-call-of-duty-ghost-modern-warfare-3-30. I hope the hack is fixed as I have a PS3 and I have run into a few of the hackers and it just kills the fun. The maps should be more in depth too, I think COD has slacked with the maps on the past 2 games.

I hope they do a better job of the online gameing than BF2142 and EA...too many crashes and lag from hell!!

MW2 was not terrible, it was excellent.

Black Ops is a step in the wrong direction, except that the campaign had a much better storyline.

It would be relatively simple to change half a dozen things, make a 'much' better campaign and then release to high sales. As long as they can find a way to beat the cheats that is...

you can tell when the 12 year old fanboys start commenting.

I got nothing against COD, but BC2 online was a better overall game to play. Much more engaging. Just because the sheeple's wallets' say otherwise doesn't speak to the differences between the two, but maybe their zombie mindset?

It's mentioned twice in the article that Infinity Ward was somehow able to create both Moder Warfare and Modern Warfare without outside assistance. Of course they were, they were at full staff and had all the creative talent intact. The heads of the studio left after the release of the second game, which was followed by a mass exodus of critical staff members. So I'm not sure why it keeps being mentioned that they somehow were able to release those games without outside help. I believe the author of the article has his timetable wrong somehow. Infinty Ward, one of the top 3 studies who focus on first person shooters, is nothing more than a shell of it's former self. Modern Warfera 3 doesn't sound like it's going to be as polished and refined as the last few relases simply because there's going to be 3 studios, who haven't worked on this title before, all trying to meet a deadline and will somehow need to gel in such a short time. Meh, hope it turns out well.

The formula is there, the record-breaking sales prove as much... it's just a matter of whether these studios have the talent to put it together and match the quality of the last three games.

BattleField Bad Company 2 was garbage. And since all the Battle Field sheep consider it the best Battle Field game that must mean the other games are even worse. The BattleField developers cant even figure out how to make prone work without turning it into some glitchy exploit, "dolphin diving". They couldnt get it to work right in an old release so instead of fixing it they just removed it. And when you run in a Battlefield game your character cant look in any direction but straight! BattleField is a horrible shooter, but hey, its got tanks!

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