Activision Confirms Call of Duty's Move to Dead Space Devs

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Activision Confirms Call of Duty's Move to Dead Space Devs

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The Infinity Wardämmerung seems to have reached its climax: Activision has announced that the series has been placed in the hands of Sledgehammer Games, makers of Dead Space.

We may not have all the information behind the tense situation between Activision and Infinity Ward, but we do have a conclusion: Activision has announced that the series will now be in the hands of Sledgehammer Games, a studio founded last year by veterans from Electronic Arts. Specifically, Sledgehammer is the brainchild of Glen A. Schofield and Michael Condrey, the head honchos on Dead Space.

Sledgehammer will be taking the reins for the 2011 Call of Duty following this year's Call of Duty 7: Probably in Vietnam, which I called back in January. The press release mentions taking cues from the Blizzard unit including "a focus on high-margin digital online content [to] further the brand as the leading action entertainment franchise in new geographies, new genres and with new digital business models." Fancy marketing talk, of course, but there are certainly worse studios to take lessons from (though one release a year isn't learning many lessons.)

Interestingly enough, the press release also states that Sledgehammer's 2011 Call of Duty "will extend the franchise into the action-adventure genre," meaning it may not be a traditional FPS at all. Call of Duty: Ghost, anyone?

As for the fate of Infinity Ward? Well, the press release confirms what we knew: Jason West and Vince Zampella are no longer with Infinity Ward, and they have been temporarily replaced by Activision's CTO Steve Pearce, and Steve Ackrich, head of production. Beyond that, though, it doesn't mention Infinity Ward other than mentioning that the studio is still working on map packs for Modern Warfare 2. Presumably Activision won't kill the studio for good as it did RedOctane - that would be monumentally stupid - but there's no question that things are different over there.

Sledgehammer is helmed by two talented guys, there's no question about that. But it must be hard to be at Infinity Ward right now - the rush of shipping one of the biggest games of all time, followed by a screeching crash into the wall of your publisher must have induced some serious mood whiplash.

Best of luck to everyone at Infinity Ward, however this turns out. The full press release is below:

Activision Publishing, Inc. today announced new strategic plans for the Call of Duty franchise, one of the best-selling video game franchises of all time.

The plans include the formation of a dedicated business unit that will bring together its various new brand initiatives with focused, dedicated resources around the world. The company intends to expand the Call of Duty brand with the same focus seen in its Blizzard(R) Entertainment business unit. This will include a focus on high-margin digital online content and further the brand as the leading action entertainment franchise in new geographies, new genres and with new digital business models.

"2010 will be another important year for the Call of Duty franchise," stated Mike Griffith, President and CEO of Activision Publishing. "In addition to continued catalog sales, new downloadable content from Infinity Ward and a new Call of Duty release, we are excited about the opportunity to bring the franchise to new geographies, genres and players."

The company expects to release a new Call of Duty game from Treyarch this fall. In addition, Infinity Ward is in development on the first two downloadable map packs for Modern Warfare 2 for release in 2010.

The company is also for the first time announcing that a new game in the Call of Duty series is expected to be released in 2011 and that Sledgehammer Games, a newly formed, wholly owned studio, is in development on a Call of Duty game that will extend the franchise into the action-adventure genre. Sledgehammer is helmed by industry veterans Glen A. Schofield and Michael Condrey. Prior to joining Activision Publishing, Schofield was the Executive Producer of the award-winning game, Dead Space and Michael Condrey was the Sr. Development Director on the game. The Dead Space franchise has won more than 80 industry awards worldwide including the prestigious A.I.A.S. Action Game of the Year and two B.A.F.T.A.S.

The Call of Duty business unit will be led by Philip Earl, who currently runs Activision Publishing's Asia Pacific region and previously served in senior executive positions with Procter & Gamble and Nestle. Activision Publishing veterans Steve Pearce, chief technology officer and Steve Ackrich, head of production, will lead Infinity Ward on an interim basis. Jason West and Vince Zampella are no longer with Infinity Ward.

Lastly, Activision Publishing announced that the company is in discussions with a select number of partners to bring the franchise to Asia, one of the fastest growing regions for online multiplayer games in the world.

Headquartered in Santa Monica, California, Activision Publishing, Inc. is a leading worldwide developer, publisher and distributor of interactive entertainment and leisure products.

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Hold on. So MW2 is the last COD game to be developed by Infinity Ward? Ever? How can Activision do that? They made the fucking franchise to begin with!

Best of luck to Infinity Ward, whatever they do next.

The press release mentions taking cues from the Blizzard unit including "a focus on high-margin digital online content [to] further the brand as the leading action entertainment franchise in new geographies, new genres and with new digital business models."

Two years from now, all triple-A FPS games will operate via monthly fee.

Jonny49:
Hold on. So MW2 is the last COD game to be developed by Infinity Ward? Ever? How can Activision do that? They made the fucking franchise to begin with!

Activision can do it because they own the rights to CoD and they own Infinity Ward. Welcome to the real world of business.

I wonder what will happen to the rest of the Infinity Ward employees.

I think we can all join in on this:

What the flying fuck?!

IW make the best CoD games and always have - I may not play CoD anymore (don't try and screw a PC gamer up the arse, he'll fuck you right back. Err...) but this is bat-shit.

Activision must be losing their minds.

brewbeard:

The press release mentions taking cues from the Blizzard unit including "a focus on high-margin digital online content [to] further the brand as the leading action entertainment franchise in new geographies, new genres and with new digital business models."

Two years from now, all triple-A FPS games will operate via monthly fee.

They won't. If Activision try it, they'll fail.

Even the people I know who only play CoD will not pay for it monthly.

Surprisingly, we still have no idea what really went on between West & Zampella and the higher-ups. I've still got my fingers crossed for some sort of drunk Twitter post out of rage by one of the two of them, though somehow that seems unlikely.

As for the news regarding the CoD IP: This sounds bad. Typically, Activision's way of bringing the franchise to "new geographies, genres and players" means milking their IP for all it's worth, and slapping the brand on whatever they can get away with slapping it on. I'm assuming in addition to this new action-adventure Call of Duty title, we'll inevitably see Call of Duty: Captain Price's Puzzle Playground, or Call of Duty: Snowmobile Rally. Or, heaven forbid, World of Call of Duty: Modern Warcraft 3.5

*shudder*

Maybe the Deadspace guys can make some real bloody ugly warfare. Not just falling over and disappearing after being shot. Like guys crawling around with their legs blown off or futilely trying to put their intestines back in after getting gutted by a grenade.

On one hand, I feel pretty sorry for the entirity of the IW crew.

On the other, those Dead Space devs make some mean games.

Where do my loyalties lie here?

Bet Infinity Ward are wishing they hadn't agreed to being bought by Activision. When will these companies learn that those "nice people" from the massive publishing house that wants to offer you a briefcase of money for the rights to everything you are, everything you've made and will make, and everything you think right down to your damn lunch-break doodles, do NOT have you rcompanies or your employees best interests at heart.

Well we all knew Activision were jerks and full of cocaine brains. This takes it all and now call of duty instead of being a modern military war game it will now be all about Space Marines in power armor fighting monsters with arms protruding from their asses.

I knew it, I fucking well kknew it.

When faced with a product you 'own' but cannot control, force out the people in control, then give it to a proxy. They get it on term you decide, maximum profit, minimum independance, minimum risk. Unfortunately the things that are most likely to suffer are IWnet and IWstaff, seeing as it sounds like they are owed precisely two metric fucktons of money. Here comes a legal clusterfuck.

Another thought, this situation doesn't seem a millions miles from the stream of events that happened at EA oh, say ten years ago.

Edit: I've read that statement and I'm making a prediction. The first or second Call of Duty game released by Sledgehammer will be subscription based. There I said it, I hope I'm wrong.

Also, what's the betting that IWNET will not see out the end of the year?

Ahahahhahahaha

History repeats itself.

i can understand firing the head of a studio for a bitter argument, but to give a multi-million dollar franchise to a start-up company (made with talented people though) and snub the other studio that made you a bunch of money in the first place? is activision taking cues from sony's handling of spider-man?

what a slap in the face for IW!!
hey thanks for making us money now GTFO!!!!

where they gonna go now? back to developing pc games?

Holy shit. Seriously, talk about out of the blue. Good look to everyone at IW

This is fucking wrong. If you're gonna replace a CoD dev, fine, get rid of Treyarch. Hand it over to the Dead space Devs, then we'd have two solid developers making the games instead of one.

Good luck to the people of IW.

I believe I speak for most when I say:

WHAT IS THAT I DON'T EVEN...

Seriously?? Holy shit. I can't wait for the dust to settle on this one.

thefreeman0001:
what a slap in the face for IW!!
hey thanks for making us money now GTFO!!!!

where they gonna go now? back to developing pc games?

If the PC crowd will have them back after getting fucked over by them with IWnet and the dedicated server thing. PC gamers can hold a grudge like that for years, and it's barely been 4 months.

What the hell just happened? This is something that, I don't believe, is just going to go away, I expect more news will show itself soon

I mean I'm not a fan of the games but do Activision not like fucking money? Are they fucking idiots. IW clearly have a fucking winning formula. WTF well I guess they don't like all this money.

So, let me get this straight: Activision wants to remove the Call of Duty rights from the company that single-handedly decimated the Christmas '09 gaming season AND shattered all pre-existing sales records, and move it to a different company? Where's the sense in that?

Talk about shooting yourself in the foot...

I would LOVE to hear their explanation behind this as currently I can join everyone else in saying "WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU THINKING?".

DarkSaber:

thefreeman0001:
what a slap in the face for IW!!
hey thanks for making us money now GTFO!!!!

where they gonna go now? back to developing pc games?

If the PC crowd will have them back after getting fucked over by them with IWnet and the dedicated server thing. PC gamers can hold a grudge like that for years, and it's barely been 4 months.

exactly lol i wouldnt wanna be in there shoes.

Jonny49:
Hold on. So MW2 is the last COD game to be developed by Infinity Ward? Ever? How can Activision do that? They made the fucking franchise to begin with!

Best of luck to Infinity Ward, whatever they do next.

A while ago Activision said that a third development team would start making Call of Duty games. If Sledgehammer is in fact this developer then it just means that 2011's Call of Duty will be something separate and that Infinity Ward will most likely release Modern Warfare 3 in 2012. However, with all the crazy shit that's been going on it does in fact look like the end of Infinity Ward's run on the Call of Duty franchise. A pretty good run in my opinion.

I really hope Infinity Ward perked up and equiped themselves with Last Stand or Martyrdom.

I don't think I'll be playing any more CoD in the future. Infinity Ward is the only company that ever got me to enjoy a war-based FPS.

rembrandtqeinstein:
Maybe the Deadspace guys can make some real bloody ugly warfare. Not just falling over and disappearing after being shot. Like guys crawling around with their legs blown off or futilely trying to put their intestines back in after getting gutted by a grenade.

Isn't that...a bit too much, or am i simply just a wuss?

OT: I don't know if the SledgeHammer guys can improves on MW2, but IW made the only CoD games i enjoyed, so they will have big shoes to fill.

I think the IW guys are getting screwed by Activision. This is some really low-ball corporate bullshit being that (Rumored, not confirmed mind you) Infinity Ward had not been paid royalties for MW2. No shit you're going to go talk to another publisher when the one you are working with is trying to screw you out of your hard earned money. If that rumor is true then I don't think I will pay anything for an activision game ever again.

As for Infinity Ward and the guys there, I honestly hope they decide to break off from Activbullshit and form a new studio under the banner of someone who isn't out to gut them of their franchises and creativity in the name of the almighty dollar.

But I can't get to mad until the facts all come in. Who knows! Activision may be in the right here and IW was trying to screw them.. Either way I am a bit angry about paying full price for MW2.

All the more reason why devs should not hand over properties so easily, a dev without its property is just another cheap commodity to sale off and trade but witless suits.

IW kinda screwed themselves with cutting relations with activision (which isn't entirely their fault, but shrinking the 'call of duty' text on the box didnt help). And since IWnet and lack of dedicated server support as well as taking the modding community out back and putting it down with cruelty... well Infinity Ward... you almost had this one coming lol

brewbeard:
Two years from now, all triple-A FPS games will operate via monthly fee.

It's irrelevant anyway, two years from now we'll still all be playing BF2 and Counter Strike anyway...

I can honestly say that noone saw this coming.

MW2, made by Infinity Ward, ends with a fucking cliffhanger and MW3, NOT by Infinity Ward, will conclude the triliogy?

What. The. Fuck?!

I hope IW gets fired so they can go make their games with a company that doesn't fuck them over.

It's been a very, very odd week so far for video game news.

This was a bit unexpected though, and a bit bizzare. Didn't that game beat like...everything?

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