The world turned upside down: Call of Duty franchise in major disarray, per report

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Amid reports that studios Raven and Sledgehammer Games can’t co-operate, Activision has put Treyarch in charge of next year’s Call of Duty game, bucking their well-oiled machine for the franchise.

Maybe it’s fallen off in recent years from its peak, but Call of Duty remains one of the biggest franchises in the world. It’s publisher Activision’s golden goose (increasingly so with the loss of Destiny recently).

The franchise has depended on annual releases through a well-oiled machine of three different studios. To the casual person, it might just seem like the same company is releasing another Call of Duty game every year, but the reality is the series incorporates a number of disparate franchises (Modern Warfare, Black Ops, etc.) and each studio gets three years to make a new entry.

However, no franchise just runs smoothly forever. Eventually, something breaks down. An entry in a series isn’t well-received or just doesn’t sell well; turmoil behind the scenes delays a project. Burnout necessitates a break. Something happens.

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  • While this year’s Call of Duty entry remains on track for release from studio Infinity Ward, apparently next year’s entry is where all the wear and tear of this machine pumping out games for the last 15 years (seven on this three-studio cycle) seems to be finally taking its toll.

    Kotaku is reporting that Treyarch is taking over the next entry in the Call of Duty franchise, essentially taking it away from Sledgehammer Games and Raven, who was previously a support studio but supposed to be taking the lead on this entry with support from Sledgehammer Games. Sledgehammer Games and Raven will still be providing support, but they work they’ve already done will be moved into a single-player campaign.

    One of the primary reasons for this change is that reportedly Sledgehammer Games and Raven were repeatedly butting heads and the whole project became a mess according to some. This also means an accelerated development cycle for the game. As previously mentioned, a studio usually has three years to work on an entry, Treyarch will have two.

    Above all things, this shows Activision desperately needs to diversify, they pretty much just have Call of Duty at this point as a franchise that isn’t from Blizzard. They probably drastically need to reassess the IP as a whole and maybe give it a break, even if it’s just for a year or two.

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    Activision has mentioned they want to diversify their IP portfolio and have started that with publishing games like Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice so hopefully they’ll continue to do that and maybe find something (or several things) that make so they don’t live or die by this one franchise that while still immensely popular, is getting less so every year.