As much as the internet wanted games like World of Warcraft and the Call of Duty franchise to fail for years, there is something to say about Activision and their myopic view of fps shooters. It’s hard to believe that five years ago, Activision commissioned three studios, which included Treyarch and Sledgehammer, to develop CoD games, but things seem to be changing from that format. It isn’t from outside sources, like player revolt, but it’s coming from internal strife for Black Ops 5.
Sledgehammer Games have been handling the Black Ops series since 2014, but things are changing in the upcoming game slated for 2020. Kotaku is claiming that Sledgehammer is being relegated to support adding a story mode to Treyarch’s normally multiplayer heavy Black Ops 5 title. This flies in the face of what Call of Duty executive VP and GM Robert Kostich recently told GameSpot nearly a year ago, when Black Ops 4 was revealed to not have a single-player campaign. In simpler language, they weren’t worried at the time.
Flash forward to February of this year (2019), while Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 far exceeded sales of Back Ops III, “the company acknowledged in an analyst call for its fourth-quarter that Black Ops 4 fell short of the company’s own expectations, particularly in the second half of the fourth quarter.”
It would seem that while people played the multiplayer aspect of the game, many gamers stayed away from picking it up since there was no single-player campaign. But, the shift is a bit more complex than simply sales. Since 2012, Activision has a three-year cycle for its popular franchise with three studios: Infinity Ward, Treyarch, and Sledgehammer.
The shake-up could be the result of internal turmoil. Raven and Sledgehammer have reportedly “argued frequently” during the development of the 2020 game, while Sledgehammer co-founders Michael Condrey and Glen Schofield were ousted. Dozens of other employees have left. If the report proves true, Activision may not have had much choice if it wanted to keep the shooter series on track.