We’ve not yet heard word of Call of Duty 2021, but work appears to be firmly underway at veteran series developers and Warzone healmers, Infinity Ward.
Modern Warfare, the critically acclaimed 2019 entry that acted as a reboot of the sub-series that arguably put Call of Duty on the map with 2007’s Call of Duy 4: Modern Warfare, was developed by Infinity Ward. The studio hadn’t quite been itself since the release of 2009’s Modern Warfare 2, having lost key personalle with many COD4 stalwarts jumping ship to form Titanfall developer, Respawn. In the years that followed, Infinity Ward developed 2013’s underwhelming Call of Duty: Ghosts, followed by 2016’s Infinite Warfare, a title people only cared for because of Modern Warfare Remastered.
Fast forward to 2019, and Modern Warfare put the studio back on the map, just as the series did in 2007. Next year’s entry will see the Call of Duty franchise return to Infinity Ward, with new job listings suggesting development is well underway.
Spotted by the folks over at TweakTown, Infinity Ward is on the lookout for a single-player gameplay designer, a level designer who specialises in single-player and co-op content, and a senior artificial intelligence engineer. Given the fact Infinity Ward hasn’t worked on a non-Call of Duty game in its history, it’s safe to assume that this hiring spree is to top up its talent pool for development on Call Of Duty 2022.
After a number of not-so-impressive entries, Infinity Ward hasn’t certainly worked its way back up to being the number one Call Of Duty developer in publisher, Activision’s arsenal. Even with the turbulant development of Modern Warfare 3 ahead of its 2011 release, the studio effectively held the Call Of Duty franchise on its shoulders, supported by Treyarch and its Black Ops series. That burden soon shifted, and Treyarch took the reigns as the lead developer.
Interestingly, with Infinity Ward returning to its original position as number one Call Of Duty developer, another studio in Sledgehammer Games (developer of Call Of Duty: WWII and Advanced Warfar), was going through turbulant times of its own.
With Infinity Ward having taken the reigns with 2019’s Modern Warfare, Sledgehammer was expected to lead Call of Duty 2020, with Black Ops 4 developer, Treyarch, leading 2021’s entry. That philosophy was promptly thrown out the window, with Treyarch leading development on Black Ops – Cold War alongside Raven.
Sound familiar? Sledgehammer Games is really no stranger to this sort of developer shuffle. At the height of Modern Warfare’s success, Sledgehammer swept in to save Modern Warfare 3’s development in 2011. Working alongside a fractured Infinity Ward — which was having well-publicised clashes with Activision at an executive level — Sledgehammer seemed to essentially lead the vision and design of the game, establishing itself as one of the industry’s premier developers.
Sledgehammer developed the solid albeit divisive Advanced Warfare in 2014, before the franchise’s welcomed return to World War 2 with Call of Duty: WWII in 2017. The studio teamed up once again with Infinity Ward for last year’s Modern Warfare, and all things seemed a-go for Call of Duty 2020 until those reports surfaced.
Infinity Ward is not as it was founded. It’s founding partners in Vince Zampella and Jason West went on to form Titanfall and Apex Legends developer, Respawn Entertainment, but it’s difficult to ignore similar circumstances here when it comes to Sledgehammer Games. Co-founder Michael Condrey, for example, left Sledgehammer in 2018 and stayed on at Activision temporarily before joining 2K Games. In early 2019, Condrey effectively criticised the cost of microtransactions in Black Ops 4, but little has been expressed beyond that.
With the three-pronged development philosophy having now been turned on its head, Sledgehammer now looks set to take the reigns of Call Of Duty 2021, with Infinity Ward still primed for next year’s entry.