Former Call of Duty and Dead Space developer Glen Schofield says that most people don’t realize how much work goes into making a Call of Duty game, with many erroneously believing that the Activision studios easily churn them out year after year.
Schofield is currently working on The Callisto Protocol with his new outfit, Striking Distance Studios. But he’s been around the industry for years. He developed multiple Call of Duty games as general manager of Sledgehammer, was executive producer on Dead Space at the now-defunct EA Redwood Shores (which became Visceral Games and has since been shut down), but he got his start in the industry nearly 30 years ago with 1992’s Barbie: Game Girl on the original Game Boy.
Speaking recently with Edge Magazine, Schofield said that Call of Duty is not a game that is just “put…through a grinder and another one will come out.” He continued, “They don’t realize how much work goes into making a Call of Duty game,” citing the amount of research that goes into making each one feel different and authentic to itself.
While there’s certainly a conversation to be had around strict development timelines that result in yearly releases, it doesn’t mean that each new Call of Duty is churned out without a lot of work, passion, and care from the development teams involved. Players may be inundated with Call of Duty games yearly, butthese games aren’t made in a year. With three developers leading the charge on Call of Duty (plus Raven handling ongoing Warzone development), pre-production work on new entries often begins up to three years before it releases.
With three separate main studios on Call of Duty (plus all of the support studios), Schofield says that there’s a culture of both competition and collaboration across Sledgehammer, Infinity Ward, and Treyarch and each of their respective games within the Call of Duty franchise.
“Was there internal competition? No doubt, no doubt,” he said. “It’s weird, because you really rooted for each studio because you needed and wanted every Call of Duty to do well. But you always wanted to get a higher score. You wanted to achieve more sales if you could. So yeah, we pushed each other, we really did.
“But then again,” he added, “we would also help each other out – like, in between, we would go help out Black Ops a little bit. We might take on a level or take on a few objects and things like that – vehicles and things. We were this sort of Call of Duty brotherhood. There was a quiet competition going on, but you helped advance the next game as much as you could.”
Still, despite the optics of a yearly release appearing to churn out Call of Duty games, it remains one of the most successful franchises in gaming, which means Activision is unlikely to break that yearly cycle anytime soon. Schofield simply hopes that players will appreciate the hard work that the devs put in, despite it appearing to be easily cranked out.
Activision has yet to reveal this year’s Call of Duty, which is reportedly titled Call of Duty: Vanguard. Coming from Sledgehammer Games, it will allegedly take the series back to World War II again. Reports have said that Activision will once again reveal the game via an in-game event in Warzone.