Call of Duty Switches to Three-Year Development Cycle

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Call of Duty Switches to Three-Year Development Cycle

Call of Duty Ghosts Screenshot 4

Activision has announced that a third developer, Sledgehammer, will join Infinity Ward and Treyarch in producing Call of Duty titles.

It's no secret that Activision's latest Call of Duty title, Call of Duty: Ghosts didn't sell quite as well as the publisher had hoped. Activision Publishing president and CEO Eric Hirshberg believes that this is a quality, rather than quantity problem, and has announced that a third developer, Sledgehammer, will join Infinity Ward and Treyarch in producing Call of Duty titles. This means that each developer will have three years, instead of two, to produce a title, which should theoretically increase the quality of the games.

"There are several advantages to doing this," said Hirshberg. "This 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'll give our teams more time to polish, making sure that we relive the best possible experience to our fans each and every time."

Sledgehammer, the new studio, had previously collaborated with Treyarch on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, and will lead development on this year's new Call of Duty title, expected to release in late 2014.

"Sledgehammer is a triple-A studio built from the ground-up around prudent talent with a 90-plus-rated pedigree both in studio leadership and throughout the organization," Hirshberg assured his shareholders during the earnings results call on Thursday.

What do you think? Will this help Call of Duty, or is Hirshberg missing the whole point? Perhaps they should switch to a three-year development cycle... but just with a single developer, to, you know, actually give people time to get bored with the current Call of Duty before the next one rolls around? Sounds crazy, I know.

Source: Computer and Video Games

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In principle it sounds like a good thing, the games wont be as rushed and the extra DLC will help recoup the costs of having of a third team. Micro DLC for 99p etc isn't a bad thing, it allows you to pick up a skin or two. Some people get annoyed when they have a pokemon attitude and feel they need all the skins and rage about it, so there is that risk.

So Treyarch give us zombie hordes, Infinity Ward gives us alien hordes... so what kind of horde mode will Sledgehammer offer?

Werewolf horde?
Lizard monster horde?
Giant bugs horde?
Vampires?
Owls?
Sentient peaches?

Ah yes, the Throw More Men at It technique. We've not seen its kind since Operation Barbarossa, gentlemen.

ZZoMBiE13:
So Treyarch give us zombie hordes, Infinity Ward gives us alien hordes... so what kind of horde mode will Sledgehammer offer?

Werewolf horde?
Lizard monster horde?
Giant bugs horde?
Vampires?
Owls?
Sentient peaches?

well the head honchos at sledgehammer made the first dead space so my guess is zombie aliens.

The problem is that they insist upon DLC and such. When you get a new COD every year what incentive does that give to invest in DLC for it's multiplayer, when everybody will be switching to the next one months down the line?

I've never actually played a COD game, but this seems like a similar thing to Guitar Hero and Rock Band. If you keep on making so many, it doesn't make sense from the customers perspective to invest heavily in any of them. It makes more sense to have less of them, but focus on making them worth sticking with.

This is actually curing the symptoms than the real problem. Longer development cycle wont mean better quality or more innovation, something that COD has just bled to death. People are tired of the formula, the DLC, and on the PC side the bullshit servers and non-PC functions.

So now they have three studios dedicated to a single franchise? What will happen to Activision if the CoD ship sinks?

Well... I guess it's a good thing that they're following up on rumors that have been circulating since 2010?

Forgive me for not being optimistic about Yet Another Shootan Gaem, but I don't have a whole lot to add to this.

I will say this: I wish Ubisoft would have done a more-than-two studio venture when they decided that the Assassin's Creed series needed yearly installments. Maybe AC:R and AC3 would have been somewhat more playable. Or perhaps it would have given them less of an excuse to straight-up ignore their bug testers.

But then again, I don't know what it's like running a multi-million dollar video game company with deadlines and shit. Perhaps they should cut their losses and skip the testing process altogether. It worked for Sonic 2006, after all.

Or maybe people are realizing they don't NEED a new CoD every year?

There is such a thing as wearing out your welcome.

Meeeh I'm torn between not giving a shit about CoD and therefore this news - and being displeased by the continued flinging of resources at the franchise helping ensure its continued survival.

Soviet Heavy:
Ah yes, the Throw More Men at It technique. We've not seen its kind since Operation Barbarossa, gentlemen.

Whilst it does pre-date the reference you have made in your post, your avatar is incredibly appropriate here; I'm sure the matter did not escape you attention.

If they are still coming out every year then this solves nothing, fine have another developer to make the game a little better (how good this new studio will be nobody knows apart from assisting with MW3 they have done nothing) but slow down on the yearly games its overkill. One game every 3 years, you could even do yearly update DLCs with extra campaigns and more maps that would be better and cheaper and you would make just as much if not more money.

ScrabbitRabbit:
So now they have three studios dedicated to a single franchise? What will happen to Activision if the CoD ship sinks?

Well, two studios get a new IP and Treyarch probably can go nuts with its Zombie Mode?

GAunderrated:
This is actually curing the symptoms than the real problem. Longer development cycle wont mean better quality or more innovation, something that COD has just bled to death. People are tired of the formula, the DLC, and on the PC side the bullshit servers and non-PC functions.

If people are tired of the formula CoD and battlefield would not sell millions of copies every year.

A tired concept is when a sequel does not sell e.g Brain age and guitar hero.

I don't see what the problem of people buying CoD is, it's not like developers owned by Activision are going to be allowed to do anything not a guaranteed mega hit anyway.

If you want something different look to the indie's.

ScrabbitRabbit:
So now they have three studios dedicated to a single franchise? What will happen to Activision if the CoD ship sinks?

Skylanders and all of Blizzard's franchise's say hello, not to mention more money in the bank than Ubisoft, Take-Two and EA combined.

Besides even if CoD starts a yearly decline it still outsells everything except GTAV.

I think, that this is mostly because IW working on new engine, because this one is 7 years old and it looks like it. Obviously it was not a problem for most of people, but with new generation of consoles it will show even more.

I thought for a moment they had changed to only releasing a Call of Duty once every three years.

Nope, instead throw more people at it so we can make more faster. MOAR DLC. MOAR COD. MOAR MONEY.

I dunno, CoD is a bit of fun sometimes, but when they ask you to buy the game with one map for zombies or whatever and if you really want to keep playing then to pay them a crapton more for maps they could have just included. There's no point in wasting all the money of the latest CoD AND the ALL of the DLC, because in a few months the next CoD will be out anyway. But then again, they did release the latest horde mode with only one map, so that's a big stick up yer ass if you like that mode.

Soviet Heavy:
Ah yes, the Throw More Men at It technique. We've not seen its kind since Operation Barbarossa, gentlemen.

Quantity has a quality of it's own.

Kumagawa Misogi:

GAunderrated:
This is actually curing the symptoms than the real problem. Longer development cycle wont mean better quality or more innovation, something that COD has just bled to death. People are tired of the formula, the DLC, and on the PC side the bullshit servers and non-PC functions.

If people are tired of the formula CoD and battlefield would not sell millions of copies every year.

A tired concept is when a sequel does not sell e.g Brain age and guitar hero.

Interesting you say that since the article says, right at the beginning:

It's no secret that Activision's latest Call of Duty title, Call of Duty: Ghosts didn't sell quite as well as the publisher had hoped.

So even if you can say it's not yet a tired concept, it's clearly dying down a little bit.

I do wonder though: Does this mean more money will be thrown at each studio? Longer dev time means more paid towards developers.

Lil_Rimmy:
I thought for a moment they had changed to only releasing a Call of Duty once every three years.

Nope, instead throw more people at it so we can make more faster. MOAR DLC. MOAR COD. MOAR MONEY.

Actually, they make it slower due changing it from "every studio has two years for a CoD" to "every studio has three years for a CoD". And personally, I am fine with it. I always thought that Treyarch only needs an addional year or two to actually make a CoD that is awesome as theirs ALWAYS showed some potential, which seemed to just never been realised due lack of time.

Scrythe:
I will say this: I wish Ubisoft would have done a more-than-two studio venture when they decided that the Assassin's Creed series needed yearly installments. Maybe AC:R and AC3 would have been somewhat more playable. Or perhaps it would have given them less of an excuse to straight-up ignore their bug testers.

I think they actually did, AC3 had 6 different teams working on it. Link.
Contrast to the 1 Dev team (Ubisoft Montreal) for AC: Revelations and the 2 Dev teams for AC4 (Ubisoft Montreal and Annecy).

While Revelations was basically Brotherhood with more Bombs and Muslims, AC3 was a mess
Personally, I want them to move away from yearly installments to avoid getting stale, but Black Flag proved that they can deliver despite it.
So long as they can get enough time to make the game, I don't mind.

Sweet, I only have to buy it every 3 years instead of 2 now.

Steven Bogos:
Activision Publishing president and CEO Eric Hirshberg believes that this is a quality, rather than quantity problem

To put it simply, he's wrong. It doesn't matter how high the quality of a product is, if you make essentially the same product over and over again people are going to get bored of it. There's really nothing actually wrong with any of the COD games, it's just that there's nothing to say about the new ones other than that they're COD games. It's innovation that's needed, not an extra year of polishing the cinematics.

After reading the Header but before clinking on it I thought "What they're really gonna bring in another developer to make a third line of COD games?" Sure enough they are that stupid.

ScrabbitRabbit:
So now they have three studios dedicated to a single franchise? What will happen to Activision if the CoD ship sinks?

Easy: fire the studio heads on the grounds of breaching contracts so Activision doesn't have to pay them bonuses, lay off most of the staff of the one or two least successful developers if they own then, and merge the remainder together to make the next yearly refresh franchise that copies the industry's current trends. It's AAA game publisher business 101.

ZZoMBiE13:
So Treyarch give us zombie hordes, Infinity Ward gives us alien hordes... so what kind of horde mode will Sledgehammer offer?

Werewolf horde?
Lizard monster horde?
Giant bugs horde?

Sadly someone already has that last one covered in spades

go to about the 2:20 mark for giant space ants

ScrabbitRabbit:
So now they have three studios dedicated to a single franchise? What will happen to Activision if the CoD ship sinks?

They'll make up the lovely band that plays as the ship goes down!

This gave me a good chuckle to wake up to. I think, perhaps, Activision needs to learn the difference between having a 3 year release cycle and a 3 year development cycle. The two are not the same thing, especially when one is insisting on pumping out a new game every year. What difference does a 3 year dev cycle make if a new game comes out each year? This does nothing to help franchise fatigue, player burn out or over saturating the market with your product. If Activision actually switched to a 2 year or 3 year release cycle the games would almost certainly show improvement in quality.

Hopefully atleast one of these developers will do a ww2 set cod game, hate all these modern set cod games. Just so boring. I think its the history that adds more to the game for me.

maybe work on somthing new ? the WW2 thing was milked and that was getting annoying, but now this modern warfare thing has long worn out its welcome and i think they have already more then milked it dry. And the added plague of DLC.....Really the only reason its so popular at this point is there is nothing else given the chance out there, its kinda turned into the yearly thing to do like when apple brings out its yearly slightly "updated" crap.

Steven Bogos:
What do you think? Will this help Call of Duty, or is Hirshberg missing the whole point? Perhaps they should switch to a three-year development cycle... but just with a single developer, to, you know, actually give people time to get bored with the current Call of Duty before the next one rolls around? Sounds crazy, I know.

Ding ding ding ding... we have a winner!

What it sounded like he said: We're switching to a 3 year cycle.
What he really said: We're going to pack our yearly releases with more micro transactions.

Reading the title I thought that splitting from Vivendi was actually going to return some creative control to the company, but Kotick really is a profits-above-all-else guy.

I knew this was coming ever since Sledgehammer worked on MW3. Shame that Raven Software aren't making games of their own, 'cause some of their maps are pretty decent.

Though a three year development cycle Treyarch game? Yes please.

ZZoMBiE13:
So Treyarch give us zombie hordes, Infinity Ward gives us alien hordes... so what kind of horde mode will Sledgehammer offer?

Werewolf horde?
Lizard monster horde?
Giant bugs horde?
Vampires?
Owls?
Sentient peaches?

Nope. Were-sheep.

ZZoMBiE13:
So Treyarch give us zombie hordes, Infinity Ward gives us alien hordes... so what kind of horde mode will Sledgehammer offer?

Werewolf horde?
Lizard monster horde?
Giant bugs horde?
Vampires?
Owls?
Sentient peaches?

Since Battlefield teased us with it and never delivered, Dinosaurs.

Little Duck:

ZZoMBiE13:

Snip snip.

Nope. Were-sheep.

I'd pay $60 for were-sheep.
A 3 year cycle is a massive move though, I am happy with the 2 year cycle on an individual dev (though having one a year is sickening still).
But 3 years is a refreshing thing though. Gives time for the developer to get creative. Maybe be create an updated engine and better game mechanics. I'm actually curious on what the next call of duty will have...I can't believe I just said this.

Wait what?

A DEVELOPER DID WHAT I SAID THEY SHOULD DO?

*maximum smugness*

But this is good, it shows that they want to try and change things up so that they aren't the same boring drivel that people have grown to hate about it.

It will be replaced with new boring iterative drivel!

I can't wait for the game where the UK invades America on the backs of giant Velociraptors wearing royal power armour!

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