Neither rain, nor sleet, nor gloom of night, nor the exodus of 35 of 90 employees including the two heads of Infinity Ward, will stop Activision from delivering the third Call of Duty Modern Warfare title later this year, according to a report from the LA Times.
Under normal circumstances that would have been in keeping with the recent pattern that Infinity Ward and Activision had established. Infinity Ward began its run with the original Call of Duty game in 2003, then released the sequel in 2005. Treyarch then released Call of Duty 3 in ’06, and from that point on the two companies alternated years to ensure that a Call of Duty title was released annually. With Infinity Ward’s last Modern Warfare title out in 2009, it was due to release another this year. But even though Activision claims they have received over 5,000 applicants to fill the employees that left following the firing of West and Zampella, the studio was at the very least struggling. Activision has so much invested in the franchise at this point that it is unlikely that it would not have released a Call of Duty title, but for awhile it seemed unlikely that Infinity Ward would be involved.
We have known for awhile that there would be a third Modern Warfare title–besides the ending of the previous game that left a lot of questions unanswered, it was confirmed in the lawsuit Activision leveled at former Infinity Ward heads Jason West and Vince Zampella. What is a surprise is that after all the problems the developer has faced, including well over one third of its staff–including some of the highest level members–Modern Warfare 3 is on target for a release this year—almost certainly this November in keeping with the trend of November releases that began with Call of Duty 3 on November 7, 2006, and has continued since. To help, Activision has redirected two of its developers, Sledgehammer Games and Raven Software, to lend a hand.
Sledgehammer will put aside a rumored spin off project that would take the franchise into space in order to help Infinity Ward with the single player campaign, while Raven will focus on helping make the multiplayer a success.
Activision has become reliant on the Call of Duty franchise (along with World of Warcraft) to generate a significant portion of its yearly earnings. Last year Call of Duty: Black Ops earned over $1 billion for the publisher in just over a month.
Although the title has yet to be officially announced, it also makes sense that Modern Warfare 3 will be released this year despite the setbacks. With Sledgehammer and Raven just beginning their own rumored Call of Duty entries, and Treyarch having just completed Black Ops, and is likely two years away from its next title, damaged or not the Infinity Ward team has the best chance of releasing a Call of Duty title this year.
Last year the first glimmers of the game that would become Black Ops began to leak out around April, and the game was first officially unveiled in May. Expect a similar pattern for the new Modern Warfare title.