Annualizing high-profile series is a relatively common practice these days - with plenty of sports, third-person action, and first-person shooter franchises pumping out one release each year. While many of these yearly installments tend to suffer from critical backlash for their lack of innovation from game to game, there's no doubt that installments in the Assassin's Creed, Madden, and Call of Duty franchises continue to out-perform prior entries.
Modern Warfare 3 was the biggest entertainment launch in history and, as a result, it shouldn't come as a surprise that another Call of Duty title is en route for 2012 (presumably from developer Treyarch). However, with Infinity Ward likely solo-developing Modern Warfare 4, what is newly-minted Call of Duty alum, Sledgehammer Games, working on?
Looking into 2013, the Call of Duty release slate gets a little murky. Will we see the inevitable release of Modern Warfare 4 from the reconstructed developer force at Infinity Ward (now that the studio has launched a hit title in the post-Jason West and Vincent Zampella era) or will sophomore Call of Duty developer, Sledgehammer Games add a third branch of the series into rotation?
According to a recent job posting at Gamasutra, Sledgehammer is in the process of hiring for an unannounced Call of Duty title:
Senior Online Engineer
Sledgehammer Games is looking for an exceptional online engineer to help bring our online experience to a new level. The candidate will be involved in the creation of multiplayer game modes and online community features for an unannounced high-end console title.Responsibilities:
- Design, write, debug and refine online features, tools and infrastructure.
- Provides technical insight and leadership regarding online design and feature set.
- Work with content creators and other programmers to ensure online features are correctly integrated into overall game.
Game fans are likely to recall that Sledgehammer was in the process of developing a third-person action Call of Duty title, until Activision pulled the team off of the project to help Infinity Ward complete Modern Warfare 3 (after a large chunk of the design force left the studio with West and Zampella). With Infinity Ward rebuilt, there's less chance that Sledgehammer will need to co-produce Modern Warfare 4 - meaning it's likely that Sledgehammer could pick-up where they left off with their third-person action Call of Duty.
Now that the dust has settled a bit, it's easy to imagine that Activision might not have scrapped Sledgehammer's game altogether - instead, it's possible that they merely asked the team to set their project aside for a year. No doubt Activision has a vested interest in moving the Call of Duty series into other genres - as non-first person shooter players might be intrigued by a different franchise experience.
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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is out now on PC, PS3, and XBox 360.