In a new episode of The GameInformer Podcast, GameInformer was joined by Glen Schofield to discuss him leaving Activision, what he worked on when he left Sledgehammer Games, and what’s next for him.
Schofield worked at EA as a Creative Director on Dead Space for years, before moving to Activision in 2010 to found Sledgehammer Games with Michael Condrey. Sledgehammer Games has worked on Call of Duty since then, releasing three titles – Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (co-developed with Infinity Ward), Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, and Call of Duty: WWII.
In 2018, three months after the launch of Call of Duty: WWII, Activision announced that both Condrey and Schofield would no longer be studio heads at Sledgehammer Games, and they’d move to a new VP of Development role at Activision. In December 2018, Condrey left Activision and started his own studio at 2K Games. Schofield’s next move has not been confirmed, but he has also left Activision and is taking some time off and discussed his experience in this new podcast.
Schofield says he’s incredibly happy about what he created with Sledgehammer Games, releasing 3 Call of Duty titles over 8 years. Schofield says, “I had a really good run while I was there. We made 3 Call of Duty games over the course of 9 years, and built a studio. So I feel pretty content and leaving them in a good place.”
Schofield was even asked what type of conversations were drawn up about Battle Royale in Call of Duty when he was there. He says that PUBG was not as big when Call of Duty: WWII was in its development, and Fortnite had not fully picked up everyone’s attention when the title launched. “I had several meetings after that [the growth of Fortnite], that were peppered with Fortnite,” he says.
When he was moved to VP of Development at Activision, he was in a corporate position and was not working on anything Call of Duty related. Schofield states that him and Condrey then went their own ways — Condrey was doing other work for Activision, while Schofield was working on prototyping ideas. He was prototyping new IP ideas for Activision and says he actually came up with a good idea that wasn’t given the green-light by Activision.
“Did a little prototype for them…they didn’t go for it, but they should have,” says Schofield. He is not allowed to talk about what the IP project was. “I can’t tell you anything about it.”
“It’s hard to get a great new IP going, and you got to put time and effort and money into this these things. We put time and effort into it and some money and it just didn’t work out. It hurts at times, but I have enough other ideas that it’s okay.”
GameInformer asked Schofield if he left Activision because they did not approve his project, and he says that “I mean, there’s a little of everything…you know after 10 years, I’ve seen the project not greenlight, and it was time. But on the other hand, I don’t want sound…there’s nothing bitter, everything about my years there was really good. I never thought that you’d leave a place without a gig, right? But now days, I see why. I can and look for the next thing that will allow me to do something great.”
Schofield also discussed some of the stress in running a Call of Duty studio with a large community and being the face of the team. He says there were two times that he received death threats, and says they go straight to the authorities with those. “It’s not only on people, on a person, on a family, it’s really on the product and things like that, so the company will get involved.”
When Condrey and Schofield left Sledgehammer, Aaron Halon was promoted to Studio Head of the studio. Schofield says, of Aaron, “He kinda grew up with us over those years and he was involved in all of the meetings. He was our right hand person. He can handle his own.”
He also shares a bit about the first Call of Duty game they worked on, saying that for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, they co-developed the game with Infinity Ward, and Sledgehammer’s focus on the game was the single-player, while Infinity Ward focused on MP of the game.
You can watch the full interview here:
Report: Activision Blizzard HQ & Treyarch offices set to relocate
A new report states Activision Blizzard will no longer lease its office space in Santa Monica and are actively searching for a new HQ location.
DoTEsports reports that Activision Blizzard and Treyarch have ended their lease at their Santa Monica HQ offices. The company has had the office under their lease for more than a decade.
Per the new report, the teams that work in those spaces will work from home until further notice.
The company is reportedly in search of a new space. An internal memo, which was sent to staff and obtained by DoTEsports, states the company is actively looking for a new office space in the Santa Monica area.
“We have narrowed down the search for our next office location to several properties in the Santa Monica area and we hope to finalize our plans in the coming weeks,” the internal company communication said.
Activision employees have been working from home since March 2020. As of now, the company says they’re on track to return to office by September 1, 2021. The timeline remains unchanged.
Activision’s main headquarters was located in the Santa Monica office on Ocean Blvd in California. Treyarch’s studio space was located right next door to Activision Blizzard HQ in Santa Monica on the first floor of an office building. The two used those buildings for over 10 years now, and are now up for rental and purchase.
Activision has not commented on this information as of now.
Investment group calls out Activision for CEO payout
Activision Blizzard’s CEO continues to rake in bonus after bonus, and now investment firms are questioning the decisions.
An investment firm, CtW, issued a statement report directed at Activision for upcoming bonus pay for their CEO, Bobby Kotick, which is valued at a remarkable $200 million.
The report states that an SEC filing and agreement between Activision Blizzard CEO and the board of directors of the company will allow the CEO to receive a bonus pay of $200 million at the end of this year.
Per the investment group, as released to GameSpot, a loophole created within Bobby Kotick’s employee agreement allows him to claim full bonus payout for previous years regardless of the company’s performance. This loophole is described in the “Shareholder Value Creation Incentive” provision in Kotick’s employment agreement. He can receive a full performance equity payout from previous years – 2017 and on. That is valued at almost $200 million, which is set to be paid out in cash upon the end date of the incentive provision.
Investment group CtW issued a scathing statement over this, as the company just this week laid off less than 2% of its workforce, which is less than 190 people for “restructuring” purposes. The lay offs impacted Activision Blizzard esports department, alongside the company’s King division.
“While the increase in Activision’s stock price is somewhat commendable, as we stated last year and continue to assert, this achievement alone does not justify such a substantial pay outcome for the CEO,” director of executive compensation research, Michael Varner, said. “There are many factors that may contribute to a rise in this particular company’s stock price that may not be directly attributable to Robert Kotick’s leadership. The use of video games as one of the few entertainment options available amid the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, has been a boon to many companies in the gaming industry irrespective of executive talent or strategic decisions.“
Bobby Kotick already makes $30 million a year from Activision thanks to his base salary and bonus yearly pay. He’s one of gaming’s highest paid executives. Activision continues to report record profits with 2020 being the company’s biggest year yet.
Activision has not commented on the latest developments on this payout.
Activision Blizzard sued over Modern Warfare & Warzone Operator Mara
Activision Blizzard has been sued by a writer and photographer over using his model photography design for the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare & Warzone Operator Mara.
The new lawsuit, as noted by Polygon, was filed in a California court against Activision Blizzard on Tuesday, Feb 2.
Clayton Haugen filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Activision alleging the company used and modeled Mara’s look after one his own characters, Cade Janus. The character is played by the same model used for Mara, Alex Zedra. He posted an image of the character on his Instagram.
Haugen first debuted Cade Janus character is his novel, November Renaissance. “The central character in November Renaissance is Cade Janus, a female vigilante and pariah figure. Haugen created this distinct and multidimensional female protagonist for his story because he believed that November Renaissance could be a successful film and the unique female lead would distinguish it from an over saturated market of action and science fiction movies.”
The lawsuit argues that Activision and Infinity Ward used the same model and photographer to create the Mara character in game, without ever asking for his permission. The complaint also states that Janus’ photography was shown in the studio’s walls during the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare photo-op.
“In addition to hiring the same talent, they also hired the same makeup professional who had prepared the talent for Haugen’s Cade Janus Photographs,” the complaint reads. “They instructed the makeup professional to prepare the talent exactly as she had done for Haugen’s Cade Janus Photographs. They instructed her to style the talent’s hair exactly as she had done for Haugen’s Cade Janus Photographs, even using the same hair piece extension.”
The Operator Mara was introduced into Call of Duty: Modern Warfare in December 2019 as part of the Season One Battle Pass. The lawsuit alleges that Activision, without permission, used this character in all of their marketing material for Season One, including the Season One roadmap.
In the extensive filing of the copyright infringement, Haugen showcases the similarities between his character and the Operator Mara’s look and feel, as seen below:
Activision Blizzard has not commented on the lawsuit at this time. It’s not clear when this will go to trial.
You can read the full lawsuit here.
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