People don’t appreciate how much work goes into Call of Duty, argues former boss
Glen Schofield also discusses internal competition between Call of Duty studios
Former Sledgehammer Games general manager Glen Schofield has argued that consumers don’t appreciate how much work goes into making Call of Duty titles.
Schofield co-directed several entries in the long-running shooter series during his time at Activision, including Modern Warfare 3, Advanced Warfare and WWII.
And in the latest issue of Edge, he said the perception that studios are just grinding out new Call of Duty instalments is way off the mark.
“People nowadays [think] a Call of Duty is… you know, just put it through the grinder and another one will come out;” he said. “They don’t realise how much work goes into making a Call of Duty game. There’s just a ton of research.
“You’re working with experts – I studied World War Two 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.”
Sledgehammer’s research process for Advanced Warfare was equally intensive, Schofield said.
“And, you know, to become an expert – we worked with Navy SEALS and Delta Force people to learn [the] tactics and techniques and get them into the game, right? You had to learn about the Special Forces from different countries like England and France and Spain and Italy and all that, because they were all in the game. So, a lot of learning, constantly reading, constantly watching videos and constantly working with experts.”
The Edge feature covers Schofield’s 30-year career in the industry, including his first game, 1992’s Game Boy platformer Barbie: Game Girl, the one he’s best known for, Dead Space, and his current project, a survival horror game set in the PUBG universe called The Callisto Protocol, which is the debut title from Striking Distance.
Schofield also discussed the competition between Call of Duty studios Sledgehammer, Infinity Ward and Treyarch.
“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.”
Activision claimed in April that over 400 million Call of Duty premium games had been sold since the first one released in October 2003. The franchise had generated “life to date consumer spending of around $27 billion”, it also said in February.
And in May, Activision confirmed that Sledgehammer was leading development of 2021’s premium Call of Duty game, which chief operating officer Daniel Alegre said was “looking great and on track for its fall release”.
According to VGC’s sources, this year’s game is called Call of Duty: Vanguard and is currently on track to release for current and last-gen consoles, plus PC, in November.
Vanguard will feature a campaign, multiplayer and Zombies modes set in the European and Pacific theatres of World War 2, with its plot centring on the birth of modern Allied Special Forces.
Vanguard will also tie in heavily with Call of Duty Warzone, including a new World War 2-themed map for the free-to-play shooter.