Randy Pitchford didn’t “see a challenge” in making a Call of Duty installment.
Call of Duty is a pretty enormous series, comprising almost twenty games among eleven developers. As it turns out, Gearbox of Borderlands fame was almost one of them. Activision once approached Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford and asked if his company, renowned for its often-quirky FPS titles, wanted to try its hand at one of gaming’s most profitable series. In the end, Pitchford declined the project, citing a lack of creative challenge as his primary reason.
“I couldn’t see what there was to aim for,” said Pitchford. According to him, there are only two kinds of projects that interest Gearbox: series that only Gearbox could make, or series to which Gearbox could add something new and distinctive. Pitchford did not feel that Call of Duty met either criterion. “The people who deliver Call of Duty have to make the game that fans want and adhere to the rules of the series, to do what is expected … I don’t really see a challenge there for us.” In addition to the weight of fan expectations, Pitchford believed that the final product would end up as a halfhearted effort. “It wouldn’t enhance our reputation as a studio and it wouldn’t really motivate our team.”
“This is a very individual opinion and not meant to sound condescending,” Pitchford clarified. He also expressed interest in using Gearbox’s own Brothers in Arms series if he wanted to make traditional shooters. A less conventional Call of Duty via Gearbox may sound like a missed opportunity, but given the company’s lack of enthusiasm for the project, it’s probably just as well that it never saw the light of day.