With two games, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and its sequel, Infinity Ward brought shooters out of the World War II ghetto and into the modern era. Rumors are swirling that the developer won't be developing the inevitable third MW.
Each year, publisher Activision releases Call of Duty games like clockwork. Set during World War II, the first Call of Duty title was developed by Activision subsidiary Infinity Ward. The second title was also developed by Infinity Ward, but Activision brought on another Activision subsidiary, Treyarch, to develop the third entry in the series.
For the fourth title, Infinity Ward threw a curve with Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, a modern take on the war shooter, complete with fancy modern military tech like night vision. (Treyarch, in the meantime, churned out another WWII shooter — though, is currently rumored to be working on a shooter set during the Vietnam War.) The sequel, Modern Warfare 2, was a smash hit, selling 4.7 million copies globally in its first 24 hours. The game earned $550 million worldwide in its first five days. The end of the game leaves the door wide open for a sequel.
Just as Infinity Ward is basking in the success of Modern Warfare 2 and readying downloadable content comes a handful of rumors that the developer will not be working on the next Modern Warfare game. Insiders told website VG247 that Infinity Ward is not developing Modern Warfare 3 and is instead working on a "completely new" title.
Modern Warfare 3, however, has not officially been announced.
This does seem to correspond with what Kotaku posted back in July 2008 when the company announced it had been given the chance to create a "unique new IP by Infinity Ward, that we'll have complete control over". The Infinity Ward source page with this announcement has since been erased. It is important to note that Infinity Ward considers Modern Warfare to be a new IP.
According to VG247, "It's unclear where the third game will be made if IW really has gone AWOL from the series. We were told by one dev source that a Canadian studio was handling it, but another pointed to newly-formed Sledgehammer Games, headed by ex-Visceral bosses Glen Schofield and Michael Condrey." All of this info sound rather vague — it could be this or that. This might because, if true, the future of the series has not yet been ironed out.
In a recent interview with game site Joystiq, Sledgehammer Games boss Glen Schofield would not say what his new company was developing "except that it will be in the action genre, and that we committed to delivering something that surpasses our previous titles in terms of critical and commercial success. We believe the game will be quite unique and will bring something new and exciting to our fans."
Another rumor that game site Destructoid is running is that Infinity Ward is actually developing a new MMO — citing sources saying that Infinity Ward is hiring people from Sony Online Entertainment, one of which may be the lead designer of EverQuest II. Blizzard employees are also apparently involved.
Last fall, Infinity Ward stated that it would do something other than Call of Duty one day. "When we feel like we can't innovate any further in the Call of Duty franchise, then we'll do something else." But is that something else a massively multiplayer online game?
And would Activision, not known as the most charitable of companies, allow its Infinity Ward subsidiary do something other than Modern Warfare? Especially considering how much money the developer has made for the company? But perhaps Acitivision thinks that the Modern Warfare brand is so strong that it doesn't need Infinity Ward or that Infinity Ward's talents can be expanded to an entirely new title or franchise.
Kotaku reached out to Activision, but did not receive a comment before this article's publication.
Update: Sony Online Entertainment has confirmed and told Kotaku that the lead designer from the EverQuest II team is not leaving the company and is actually working on the game's next expansion due out on February 16.