Even if the most recent release in the Call of Duty series may have hinted that consumer enthusiasm for the franchise is slowing, development certainly won’t be. With Black Ops 2 and Ghosts selling millions of copies within hours (even with the latter releasing on both current and next-gen consoles), Activision won’t be slowing production of their cash cow franchise.
Yet with Infinity Ward and Treyarch taking turns manning the CoD ship, support studio Sledgehammer Games has announced that they will once again be expanding their team. The immediate questions the move raises are clear: is Sledgehammer at work on Call of Duty‘s next-gen title, or will the publisher be putting three studios, not two, to work on future entries?
The exact responsibilities or contributions of Sledgehammer to the Call of Duty brand have been hard to nail down. After the company joined the franchise to work on a cancelled third-person CoD title, they seem to have been tasked with lending support to Activision’s other studios, most notably in co-developing Modern Warfare 3 with Infinity Ward.
But after Ghosts was announced back in May 2013, Sledgehammer revealed that they would not be a part of its development, instead focusing on “their next project.” The details ended there, but according to a job posting on their official website, the studio is looking to swell their ranks in the days ahead:
Finding best in class developers to work with us, and deliver amazing software for our fans is our number one priority. We are growing like crazy, and we have plans to add 40 more jobs before the end of the year in all disciplines and levels of seniority across the development team. There has been no better time to consider your future at Sledgehammer Games working on Call of Duty — the industry’s biggest franchise!
While it was never doubted that plenty of work on the Call of Duty brand lay in the future of IW, Treyarch, Sledgehammer – heck, even Raven Software – the expansion is telling. All prior evidence supported the idea that with IW having delivered Ghosts, the ball was now in Treyarch’s court to handle the CoD title set to release in November 2014. But with Sledgehammer’s “project” still unreleased, and with the staff set to expand over the coming year, it’s sounding more and more like the studio is finally being given its chance to handle development from top to bottom.
If possible, that also means that come November 2015 Treyarch may be set to bring a game to market having enjoyed three years of development, not the two years normally offered thanks to Activision’s annual cycle. Could this be a one-time deal, with Sledgehammer focusing time and resources on the first truly next-gen Call of Duty? Or has the developer become simply the third rotating studio keeping the CoD train a-rolling?
Only time will tell, and we’ll keep you informed as more information surfaces. Would you be happy to see Call of Duty titles receive more development time, or are you hoping to see one of these studios try something new under the franchise name? Share your won thoughts and concerns in the comments.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.