The three-pronged approach to Call of Duty development could be a thing of the past if the latest report out of Activision is to be believed. According to multiple reports via Kotaku, Activision has advised developers at studios Raven and Sledgehammer — planned studios behind Call of Duty 2020 — that work will change hands back to Black Ops 4 developer, Treyarch.
It’s expected that, should this report be true, Treyarch is to return to work on Black Ops 5, bringing the fifth entry in the popular sub-series forward by two years given Treyarch’s next entry wasn’t expected until 2021.
Dating back to 2012, Activision has used a three-pronged approach to development for Call of Duty, with Modern Warfare developer, Infinity Ward; Treyarch, and Call of Duty: WWII developer, Sledgehammer Games, each taking a year’s offering of the famed franchise.
With Infinity Ward taking the reigns this year with what is highly tipped to be Modern Warfare 4, Sledgehammer was expected to take over next year’s effort, alongside Raven, which has long been a Call of Duty “helper” of sorts to spread development.
Reportedly, Sledgehammer and Raven had teamed up for Call of Duty 2020, with the Cold War acting as the base narrative driver for the game. As it stands, however, that won’t come to fruition next year, and Black Ops 5 looks to be the most obvious release in 2020.
Further, the Sledgehammer game appears to have been ditched completely, with both Raven and Sledgehammer expected to help Treyarch on Black Ops 5, which will now contain its own Cold War-set single player campaign.
The news comes at a time as Sledgehammer is battling what is perceived to be internal disputes and troubles. Earlier this year, studio stalwarts and co-founders, Michael Condrey and Glen Schofield, left the company. Shortly after that, Condrey hit out at Black Ops 4‘s and Treyarch’s microtransaction approach to weaponry.
Further, Kotaku claims that people close to the issue say there were tensions and creative differences between the Sledgehammer and Raven teams, forcing Activision’s hand to consolidate development efforts and push up the release of Black Ops 5.
It’s an increasingly interesting and fascinating year for Activision and the Call of Duty franchise. Modern Warfare 4 seems destined to be Call of Duty 2019, while Call of Duty Mobile is looking to be a genuine hit ahead of its open beta across North America and Europe in the coming weeks. It’ll sure be interesting to see how the franchise and development approach evolves further in the next 12-18 months.