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The next Call of Duty is official, and it’s coming from a new lead developer

The next Call of Duty game, confirmed for later this year, will be developed by Sledgehammer Games. The developer joins Treyarch and Infinity Ward in what is now to be a three year development cycle for COD games.

The news came as part of Activision’s investor call, and it marks what is arguably the biggest behind-the-scenes shift in the Call of Duty franchise to date – with the exception of Infinity Ward losing multiple members of its studio, including its founders, following a nasty legal dispute with Activision.

Ever since the release of Call of Duty 2, Infinity Ward and Treyarch have been alternating development on the series’ main releases, with each studio taking two years to develop its game, thus ensuring that a new Call of Duty title can hit shelves each year. Annual releases will likely remain, but now each developer will have three years to work on their respective Call of Duty game.

It was always assumed that there would be a Call of Duty release in 2014, but this is the first official confirmation. With Sledgehammer working on the 2014 game and Infinity Ward behind last year’s Ghosts, it’s likely that Treyarch will be responsible for the Call of Duty release in 2015. Infinity Ward would then develop for 2016, and the cycle would reset in 2017 with Sledgehammer again.

Sledgehammer is a relatively new studio, founded by industry vets Michael Condrey and Glen Schofield. The pair took a major risk and formed their own studio, then helped to complete Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 following Infinity Ward’s mass exodus. Condrey and Schofield released the following statement after the news broke:

“Having the honor of developing the new, next-generation of Call of Duty is a developer’s dream come true. All of us here at Sledgehammer Games have a shared vision to create the best work of our lives. The next Call of Duty represents a new era for this amazing franchise, and we look forward to sharing what we have been working on.

“Today is just the beginning, there is so much more to come!”

There is still no word on what Sledgehammer is planning, although it has been in development for a while now, probably since the studio completed work on Modern Warfare 3 in 2011. If the past Call of Duty reveal pattern is any indication, we should find out within the next few months.