Sledgehammer Games is currently working on a Call of Duty game for Activision that is supposedly going to be a departure from the traditional first-person shooter genre. (Previous job listings indicate the game will most likely be a third-person shooter.) It’s tempting to think, then, that the long-rumored (and by all accounts, inevitable) “subscription” model that Activision has likely been considering for future COD games could in fact play a major part in whatever Sledgehammer is developing.
But as Activision Blizzard senior vice president of worldwide studios Brian Ward explained during today’s LA Games Conference, if this is happening, it won’t be up and running anytime soon.
“Those guys are still ramping up their team. So I think this is more contingent on the work that the guys at Treyarch are doing, and then there are some other pieces of it that some other vendors are working on. And I think I said ‘online’ not ‘subscription,’ because that’s one of the debates. How does this all fit together business model-wise. Is there a subscription? Is there not a subscription?”
Clearly, Activision has a lot to figure out in terms of what a possible subscription model might in fact look like for a Call of Duty game, and getting all of the development pieces together is one of their primary concerns at this point.
“I think there’s a lot of churn on who’s doing what right now with the people we’ve got all across…Treyarch, Sledgehammer, there are some guys left over from Underground Games, there’s the guys at Infinity Ward, and there were some other bits and pieces in it. So I think there are still a lot of assignments to figure out,” said Ward.
However, Activision better figure at least part of it out fast, because, as Ward explained, he expects Activision to roll out their plans for the new online model in the coming months.
“I think for sure by E3. I haven’t been told that’s the case, but I’m just guessing that by the time we get to E3 being in June as it is and Call of Duty 7 coming out in November…There will be a Call of Duty story at E3 for sure, even if it was just a single player game, there’d be a Call of Duty story. So I think that’s when probably in my estimation, and I’m not privy to the actual communication plan, but that’s when I would expect it.”
With so many various entities contributing to the overall Call of Duty brand, it seems natural that consolidation could be in the cards somewhere down the line. But as Ward points out:
“I really couldn’t say. First of all, I think that’s too big of an employee base to be under one unit, especially in a bunch of disparate locations. You know and frankly the Call of Duty business unit was only formed six weeks ago, so I think they need some time to get their feet under them, and there have been a lot of moving pieces in the past few weeks. So I think the business unit really needs time to solidify their plan.”