In the midst of all the confusion surrounding the Call of Duty clusterf**k, it turns out that Dead Space makers Sledgehammer will be making a spin-off, and Infinity Ward is still "central" to the series proper.
There's a ton of confusion and "Oh god, oh god, what's going on?" surrounding what I like to call the Infinity Wardämmerung, and it's understandable given the potential magnitude of what's going on. However, while the Activision press release led many - including myself - to believe that Sledgehammer would be developing the next Call of Duty in 2011 after Treyarch's Call of Duty 7: Vietnam Funtimes this year, that may not be the case.
G4 has obtained an internal Activision memo that states that while there will be a main-series Call of Duty released in 2011, and there will be a Sledgehammer-developed Call of Duty that "[extends] the franchise into the action-adventure genre," the two are not the same game.
This means that there is a third studio on Call of Duty in addition to Treyarch and Sledgehammer, and it could very well be series creators Infinity Ward. Indeed, the memo, which came from Activision Publishing president and CEO Mike Griffith, calls Infinity Ward "central to Call of Duty's future."
"2010 is expected to be another big year for Call of Duty," wrote Griffith in the memo, "with Treyarch developing a new title for fall release, Infinity Ward's downloadable content for Modern Warfare 2 in the works now, and a new Call of Duty title expected to be released in 2011." So far, that's all information we'd already known about the situation - but here's where Griffith indicates that the 2011 CoD and Sledgehammer's CoD are different entities:
"In addition," said Griffith, "Sledgehammer Games is in development on a Call of Duty title in the action-adventure genre. It's an exciting time and it's the right time to ensure the appropriate resources are there to support Call of Duty's growth."
So it seems that Sledgehammer's title is a spin-off of sorts (which makes sense, given that the Sledgehammer folks were best known for action-adventure title Dead Space), whereas the annualized CoD FPS-fest isn't going anywhere. And perhaps neither is Infinity Ward (that is, if the employees there want to stick around). Of course, Activision could always have a completely different third studio in mind for the franchise - I doubt it, but at this rate nothing would surprise me right now.
The whole mess seems to be dying down - I hope. What a week it's been, and it's only Tuesday. If things keep going this way all week, I bet we'll see Hideo Kojima and Peter Molyneux swordfighting on top of a blimp by the end of the day on Friday.