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Activision cracks EA with Sledgehammer

Poaches Visceral men to run new studio

Activision has landed another blow on its predecessor as top-dog publisher, EA, by forming a new, wholly-owned developer called Sledgehammer, run by men who previously helmed Dead Space developer Visceral Games.

Based in home Activision territory of Foster City, California, Sledgehammer Games will be run by Glen Schofield and Michael Condrey, previously General Manager and COO of Visceral and, respectively, Executive producer and Senior Development Director of Dead Space. The new studio is already working on an as-yet unannounced game.

Schofield and Condrey seem chuffed to be ramping up a new studio at what was their previous employer's deadliest rival. Schofield said: "This was an opportunity for us to assemble a world-class team made up of developers with a proven track record in delivering top-rated games. We know what it takes to develop a Game of the Year title, and we also know that the title needs the support of a strong publisher to make the game a success."

And Condrey added: "Activision Blizzard's independent studio model is very empowering. We have a fantastic new studio facility, the foundation for a world-class team and the backing of the industry's most profitable game publisher. This was a rare opportunity we couldn't pass up."

The establishment of Sledgehammer Games marks another psychological blow for Actvision Blizzard over EA, which has recently been looking increasingly beleaguered after announcing that it is cutting 1,500 jobs, which equates to 17 per cent of its workforce.

It's also been confirmed that it will close developer Pandemic Studios, which is currently putting the finishing touches to The Saboteur, although Visceral Games, which emerged from EA's in-house Redwood Shores studio and is currently finishing Dante's Inferno, is not threatened with closure.

But the defection of two of its top brass to the opposition is a major blow for EA.