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Call of Duty series switches to three-year development cycle

Third studio, Sledgehammer, added to CoD rotation

Activision has announced that the Call of Duty series has been switched to a three-year development cycle.

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Previously, two studios - Infinity Ward and Treyarch - released Call of Duty games alternatively every two years.

In a significant change of strategy, Activision has added a third studio, Sledgehammer Games, to the rotation giving each studio three years to developer their respective Call of Duty titles, announced Activision Publishing president and CEO Eric Hirshberg.

Sledgehammer will lead development on this year's new Call of Duty title, expected to release in late 2014. This comes as part of an effort to improve quality, said Hirshberg during an earnings results call on Thursday.

"There are several advantages to doing this," said Hirshberg. "This first is of course quality; this will give our designers more time to envision and to innovate for each title. Simultaneously it will give our content creators more focus on DLC and micro DLC which, as you know, have become large and high-margin opportunities, and significant engagement drivers. Finally, it'll give our teams more time to polish, making sure that we relive the best possible experience to our fans each and every time."

Sledgehammer has previously worked on the Call of Duty franchise in a collaborative capacity with Infinity Ward on 2012's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. Sledgehammer was focused on the creation of post-launch DLC for the game, along with Raven Software.

"Sledgehammer is a triple-A studio built from the ground-up around prudent talent with a 90-plus-rated pedigree both in studio leadership and throughout the organization," commented Hirshberg. "They demonstrated their skill on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, and on their past high-rated games. They're the perfect choice to support our new approach and bring fresh ideas and creativity to this great franchise, and to raise the bar for next-gen games overall."

The California-based studio was formed in 2009, helmed by Glen Schofield and Michael Condrey, previously general manager and COO of Visceral and, respectively, executive producer and senior development director of Dead Space.

Last week Sledgehammer Games vacancy ads revealed the studio was actively recruiting in a bid to strengthen the development team working on a next-gen Call of Duty game. Parent company Activision posted more than ten Sledgehammer job adverts across a range of disciplines including art, design, animation and engineering. Multiple job ads note that the studio is "working on a next-gen Call of Duty game".

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