Publisher Activision announced today new "strategic plans" for the Call of Duty franchise, announcing a new developer for the shooter franchise and confirming the departure of key Infinity Ward staffers.
The plans include the formation of a dedicated business unit that will bring together its various new brand initiatives with focused, dedicated resources around the world. The company intends to expand the Call of Duty brand with the same focus seen in its Blizzard Entertainment business unit. This will include a focus on high-margin digital online content and further the brand as the leading action entertainment franchise in new geographies, new genres and with new digital business models.
"2010 will be another important year for the Call of Duty franchise," stated Mike Griffith, President and CEO of Activision Publishing. "In addition to continued catalogue sales, new downloadable content from Infinity Ward and a new Call of Duty release, we are excited about the opportunity to bring the franchise to new geographies, genres and players."
The company expects to release a new Call of Duty game from Treyarch this fall. In addition, Infinity Ward is in development on the first two downloadable map packs for Modern Warfare 2 for release in 2010.
The company is also for the first time announcing that a new game in the Call of Duty series is expected to be released in 2011 and that Sledgehammer Games, a newly formed, wholly owned studio, is in development on a Call of Duty game that will extend the franchise into the action-adventure genre. Sledgehammer is helmed by industry veterans Glen A. Schofield and Michael Condrey. Prior to joining Activision Publishing, Schofield was the Executive Producer of the award-winning game, Dead Space and Michael Condrey was the Sr. Development Director on the game. The Dead Space franchise has won more than 80 industry awards worldwide including the prestigious A.I.A.S. Action Game of the Year and two B.A.F.T.A.S.
The Call of Duty business unit will be led by Philip Earl, who currently runs Activision Publishing's Asia Pacific region and previously served in senior executive positions with Procter & Gamble and Nestle. Activision Publishing veterans Steve Pearce, chief technology officer and Steve Ackrich, head of production, will lead Infinity Ward on an interim basis. Jason West and Vince Zampella are no longer with Infinity Ward.
Lastly, Activision Publishing announced that the company is in discussions with a select number of partners to bring the franchise to Asia, one of the fastest growing regions for online multiplayer games in the world.