Activision have announced that the Call of Duty franchise will now have a ‘3-year development cycle’. Don’t go celebrating in the streets just yet, this information isn’t nearly as interesting when what Activision really means is that they will have 3 teams working on Call of Duty titles.
In addition to Infinity Ward and Treyarch, Sledgehammer Games will join the queue in providing gamers with their Call of Duty fix. The franchise will remain on course for yearly releases, only the development team will change and ‘rotate’ in once every 3 years.
It has also been revealed that Sledgehammer Games will be the development team behind 2014’s Call of Duty entry which CEO Bobby Kotick has hyped: “perhaps the best Call of Duty game ever created.” The 2014 title is rumoured to be the next installment in the Modern Warfare series, although it is probably based upon Sledgehammer Games having co-developed Modern Warfare 3 alongside Infinity Ward.
Such hype, much disappointment.
I welcome the change although I have my grievances. The 3-year rotation will freshen things up; however, the general consensus is that the Call of Duty franchise has stagnated and has been overtaken by the Battlefield series. It will take more than adding Sledgehammer Games to the equation to improve things overall. I would much rather see Call of Duty take a break, develop an entirely new Engine and come back with a Generation-Defining title aka Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Rotating in between studios merely pads the bottom line with annual releases, something that CEO Eric Hirshberg has pretty much given away:
“There are several advantages to doing this…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.”
I hope for something big from Sledgehammer Games, something that elevates the next Call of Duty from the last Call of Duty. The competition is more fierce than ever; despite it’s issues Battlefield 4 is a juggernaut, Titanfall has Respawn and Vince Zampella, Destiny has Bungie, whilst Halo and Gears of War will always be in the mix for the FPS crown. Activision better hope they can deliver “the best Call of Duty game ever created“, because that crown is slipping.