A profile in the latest issue of Edge magazine saw former Sledgehammer Games exec Glen Schofield tell the venerable UK publication that fans don’t fully appreciate what it takes for a studio to get a Call of Duty game out the door.
“People nowadays [think] a Call of Duty is…you know, just put it through the grinder and another one will come out.” Schofield said. “They don’t realize how much work goes into making a Call of Duty game. There’s just a ton of research.”
What kind of research? He clarified:
“You’re working with experts—I studied World War II for three years. I worked with historians. I spent eight days in a van in Europe going to all the places that were going to be in the game. I shot different old weapons. All of these things that you have to do when you’re working on a Call of Duty game.”
Schofield also mentioned working alongside special forces from several different countries while acting as co-director on two Call of Duty games (Advanced Warfare, WWII) and supporting Infinity Ward on a third (Modern Warfare 3) during his tenure at Sledgehammer. That honestly doesn’t seem like that bad of a deal as far as video game development goes. When the topic of hard work came up, I fully expected him to give a nod to quality assurance or speak on the grueling Call of Duty dev cycle, not “reading” and “watching videos,” as he goes on to explain.
While in no way do I intend to diminish the often-overwhelming amount of work that goes into making video games (the majority of which falls to the grunts rather than leadership), what Schofield is talking about here sounds suspiciously like a vacation. Sure, it’s probably hard to think of it that way when you’re there for work, but come on. You’re traveling Europe with Activision’s credit card in your wallet, not back in the studio documenting bugs for 12 hours a day at barely more than minimum wage.
A veteran of the industry, Schofield has overseen the development of several influential video game franchises throughout his decades of experience, most notably sci-fi survival horror franchise Dead Space. He stepped down from his position as vice president and general manager at Sledgehammer Games in 2019 to become CEO of Striking Distance Studios, a newly formed subsidiary of PUBG Corporation parent company Krafton. The studio’s first game, The Callisto Protocol, is part of the burgeoning PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds universe, set several hundreds of years in the future.
“Striking Distance Studios has one goal with The Callisto Protocol: to make one of the most terrifying games of all time,” Schofield said at the time.
There’s no telling what kind of research that will involve, but it’s sure to be a great deal more intensive than a nice European vacation and firing an M1 Garand or two.
Clarification (07/15/2021, 12:23 p.m. ET): This story has been edited to make Glen Schofield’s departure from Sledgehammer Games and Call of Duty development more apparent early on.