Call of Duty Moves to a Three-Year Development Cycle
Activision has announced a major change to how they make their trademark Call of Duty franchise starting with this year’s edition of CoD. Starting with this fall’s release of Call of Duty, all games will be made on a three-year development cycle. To keep the games coming out annually, Activision has announced that Sledgehammer Games will join Infinity Ward and Treyarch as developers.
Sledgehammer Games last developed a Call of Duty game back in 2011 when they co-developed Modern Warfare 3 with Infinity Ward. That game was subject to some legal upheaval between the devs and Activision that resulted in Infinity Ward co-founders Jason West and Vince Zampella leaving the company to found Respawn Entertainment, makers of the upcoming Titanfall. CoD:MW3 was well-received by critics, scoring 88s for PS3 and 360 on Metacritic.
It would appear that the plan to move Call of Duty to a three-year development cycle has been in the works for about three years now since this year’s game will be the first on that three-year development cycle. Treyarch will be up next with 2015’s Call of Duty offering after last releasing Black Ops II in 2012. Infinity Ward will be the final company to release a game on the three-year cycle getting 2016’s CoD.
In making the announcement on an earnings call, Activision CEO Eric Hirshberg said, “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.”
Over the last few years, the lack of innovation had been one of the principal complaints of both gamers and the gaming media. It looks like Activision has taken a step back to figure out how to solve the biggest issue with the franchise and enacted a plan. Whether giving developers more time to try new things and polish the games actually results in better games remains to be seen. It certainly can’t hurt.
Interestingly, EA announced last year that they were doing something similar with its shooter lineup. They said that they would be cycling through Battlefield, Battlefront and Titanfall as a shooter lineup. With BF4 last year, Titanfall this and Battlefront expected alongside Star Wars: Episode VII in 2015, it looks like three-year development cycles for triple-A shooters are now the norm.