Treyarch will take over from Sledgehammer and Raven.
According to a report from Kotaku, Activision has informed developers at Sledgehammer Games and Raven that both studios will no longer be in charge of the Call of Duty game scheduled for 2020.
Instead, Treyarch, who last developed 2018’s Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, will reportedly be taking over and leading development on a new Black Ops game for next year – Black Ops 5.
Raven and Sledgehammer were originally supposed to lead the development of the 2020 Call of Duty, and according to Kotaku, the plan was to set its story mode during the Cold War. Conveniently enough, Kotaku reports that Treyarch is also setting its story mode for Black Ops 5 during the Cold War.
According to Kotaku’s Jason Schreier, who cites sources “briefed on the overhaul,” while Treyarch will take over a leadership role on the 2020 Call of Duty, Raven and Sledgehammer will act as support studios. Treyarch will be utilizing work previously done on a single-player story mode for the campaign.
It’s the first time since 2012 that Activision has broken its three-studio rotation, beginning with Treyarch’s Black Ops 2, Infinity Ward’s Call of Duty: Ghosts, then Sledgehammer’s Advanced Warfare. Treyarch has helmed all of the Black Ops games since the series’ inception. Raven has traditionally acted as a support studio to each leading team.
One main reason behind the studio switch is reportedly due to significant tensions between employees from Raven and Sledgehammer. The sources indicated that both staffs argued frequently over the past year.
According to Kotaku, reactions over at Treyarch are quite mixed between dismay and excitement. Instead of a three-year schedule, Treyarch will now have two years to make Black Ops 5, and Kotaku’s sources say it may result in a particularly bad stretch of crunch. Other sources say they’re excited because their game plan for Black Ops 5 likely won’t change as drastically as it did for previous installments.
Two co-founders of Sledgehammer, Michael Condrey and Glen Schofield, both left shortly after February 2018. Condrey went on to start a new studio in Silicon Valley with the publisher 2K. That studio ended up hiring multiple Sledgehammer employees, and Kotaku reports Sledgehammer has been losing employees ever since.
Judging from the typical release calendar of Call of Duty games, there’s a possibility that Black Ops 5 may be a cross-gen game in order to coincide with the expected launch of the next PlayStation and Xbox consoles. For more on next-gen consoles, check out what we would really like to see from a PS5 and how the new Xbox hardware might debut at E3 2019.
IGN has reached out to Activision for comment, and will update this article with any new information.
Joseph Knoop is a writer and web producer for IGN. Follow him on Twitter @JosephKnoop.