Publisher Activision announced today new "strategic plans" for the Call of Duty franchise, announcing a new developer for the shooter franchise and confirming the departure of key Infinity Ward staffers.
Activision announced it will form a "dedicated [Call of Duty] business unit that will bring together its various new brand initiatives with focused, dedicated resources around the world." It plans to expand the Call of Duty brand "with the same focus seen in its Blizzard Entertainment business unit" placing a focus on "high-margin digital online content and further the brand as the leading action entertainment franchise in new geographies, new genres and with new digital business models."
As previously announced, Activision will release a new Call of Duty game from series co-developer Treyarch, responsible for Call of Duty 3 and Call of Duty: World At War, this fall. Developer Infinity Ward is still scheduled to release two downloadable map packs for Modern Warfare 2 this year.
In 2011, Activision will release another new game in the Call of Duty series from an unspecified developer. It also announced plans for another Call of Duty-based title from developer Sledgehammer Games, the recently formed studio lead by Dead Space creative leads Glen Schofield and Michael Condrey. The Sledgehammer-helmed title will "extend the franchise into the action-adventure genre."
The previously mentioned Call of Duty business unit will be led by Philip Earl, who currently runs Activision Publishing's Asia Pacific region. Activision Publishing's Steve Pearce, chief technology officer, and Steve Ackrich, head of production, will lead Infinity Ward on an interim basis. Former studios heads Jason West and Vince Zampella are no longer with Infinity Ward, officially.
"Activision doesn't comment on HR matters related to its studios," said reps when asked for comment about the departures and allegations of insubordination. The two former Infinity Ward heads are said to have butted heads with their publisher creatively over the direction of the Call of Duty franchise.
Activision Publishing also announced that the company is "in discussions with a select number of partners to bring the franchise to Asia, one of the fastest growing regions for online multiplayer games in the world."