Ever since the start of this generation, three teams of studios have developed Call of Duty games in turn, alternating between Infinity Ward, Sledgehammer Games and Treyarch. That’s reportedly going to change, as Kotaku’s insider sources have revealed that Treyarch, who should still be knee deep in supporting Black Ops 4, are being put in charge of 2020’s Call of Duty game, with Sledgehammer and Raven demoted to a supporting role.
Thankfully, a lot of the work already done can seemingly be reused. The Raven-led game was intended to be set during the Cold War, and so it’s expected that Black Ops 5 will also be set during the Cold War, which would fit well with the sub-series’ origins. The game will almost certainly be a cross-gen game, as next generation PlayStation and Xbox consoles are expected to come out at the end of 2020.
If the reports are true, it’s a huge decision for the company to make, but comes off the back of Sledgehammer and Raven being unable to decide on a vision and meet internal targets. While Sledgehammer were the lead studio into Call of Duty’s enhanced movement era with Advanced Warfare and the return to “boots on the ground” with WW2, the studio’s co-founders Michael Condrey and Glen Schofield left the studio and Activision as a whole under a cloud of community dissatisfaction. Condrey is now heading up a studio at 2K and recruited a number of Sledgehammer staff in the process. Because of this, Raven, who have assisted in the development of every Call of Duty game since Black Ops was given the lead role for 2020’s game.
This reportedly led to tension between Sledgehammer and Raven, and so Activision have put them both on the naughty step and brought Treyarch in to be the parent. Then again, with the troubled development of Black Ops 4, which dropped single player half way through its creation, shifted toward Battle Royale, and has since garnered some intense community backlash for the number of layers of monetisation wrapped around a full-priced game, that might not be much solace for fans.
Different sources told Kotaku that they were bracing themselves for a lot of overtime to get the game finished in two years, but others say that there’s a solid plan in place, in contrast to Black Ops 3 and 4.
All of this comes at a time where we await the announcement of Infinity Ward’s next Call of Duty game, which is due for release at the end of this year. All indicators and rumours point to this being a return to the Modern Warfare era, but there’s been no official announcements well beyond the usual time that a Call of Duty game is teased and revealed in the run up to E3. Activision will not be on the show floor at E3 2019, but we can surely expect to hear something about their game then.