Kotaku has stated that both Michael Condrey and Glen Schofield have left Sledgehammer Games after being with the studio since it was founded in 2009 by the two.
Activision confirmed the news in a new statement, saying that both Michael Condrey and Glen Schofield will still remain at Activision taking on “new executive duties” within Activision Publishing.
Here’s the statement Activision sent to Kotaku:
Following the incredible success of Call of Duty: WWII, Glen Schofield and Michael Condrey have decided to transition from their duties at Sledgehammer Games to new executive duties inside Activision. We thank Glen and Michael for their tremendous body of work on Call of Duty and look forward to continuing to collaborate with them in their new roles. These changes have created an opportunity to elevate one of the key leaders at the studio, Aaron Halon, to lead Sledgehammer Games. Aaron is a founding member of Sledgehammer Games and the natural fit to lead the team. He has over 20 years of industry experience and has played an instrumental role throughout the studio’s history. We congratulate Aaron and are thrilled about the future of Sledgehammer Games, which we believe has even bigger days ahead.
Michael and I have been collaborating for over 12 years. In that time, we’ve made great games that fans have loved, won awards on behalf of our projects and have lived our dreams. We thank Activision for the wonderful opportunity to create and lead Sledgehammer Games. Now, it’s time to try other things. Activision has offered me the opportunity to focus my energy on something I’m very passionate about, exploring new game ideas for the company. It’s something I just couldn’t pass up. Working with such a great studio of developers at Sledgehammer Games has been an honor and the highlight of my career. The team is in great hands with Aaron, he has my full support and confidence. Thank you to everyone.
We founded Sledgehammer Games to bring together a world class development team with a singular goal of delivering excellence for fans. Over the course of nearly a decade, Glen and I proudly grew the studio and watched a new crop of leaders emerge within the team. On a personal level, I’m deeply grateful to the men and women who have poured their passion into the pursuit of excellence with us. I’m proud of what we accomplished together, it has been the greatest experience of my professional life. I am looking forward to starting a new chapter of my career with Activision. I couldn’t be more excited for the future of Sledgehammer Games and look forward to seeing Aaron lead the studio to new heights.
Sledgehammer has announced that Aaron Halon will be the new Studio Head going forward. Aaron Halon has been with Sledgehammer Games since its founding and served as a Development Director since 2009. He takes over as Studio Head.
This is the first major shake up that Sledgehammer Games has had since its founding in 2009. Both Condrey and Schofield joined Activision and founded Sledgehammer Games in 2009 after departing EA’s Visceral Games, where they were Directors of Dead Space franchise.
Sledgehammer Games has developed three Call of Duty games with Michael Condrey and Glen Schofield as Studio Heads: they co-developed Call of Duty: MW3 with Infinity Ward in 2011; they released their first solo-developed title in 2014 with Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. Their latest release, Call of Duty: WWII, went on to be the best selling Call of Duty title on current-generation consoles.
It is unclear why the two left Sledgehammer Games in the middle of the DLC/updates season for their latest release, Call of Duty: WWII. Up until late January, Condrey was still posting updates on Twitter and Reddit for Call of Duty: WWII. In late January, he went off grid completely. He has not tweeted or posted on Reddit since then.
The last time Studio Heads of a Call of Duty development studio left their studio during a DLC season was in 2010 when Jason West and Vince Zampella left Infinity Ward.
Activision issuing “hardware bans” to thwart Warzone cheaters
Activision have confirmed that they are handing out “hardware bans” to banned cheaters who keep making fresh accounts.
Cheaters and hackers have plagued Call of Duty: Warzone since its launch, but on top of account bans, Activision has confirmed that they are issuing hardware bans to thwart repeat offenders.
Cheaters have been a thorn in both players’ and developers’ sides since Warzone launched in 2020. It has been common to run into players blatantly wall-hacking and aim-botting, ruining the game for casual players and pros alike.
Raven Software has been providing regular updates on how many cheaters have been banned, and Activision recently confirmed that 475,000 permabans have been issued since Warzone’s launch. The likely reason why this number is so high is that Warzone is free-to-play. It’s widely believed that even if a cheater’s account gets banned, they can simply create a new one and carry on as if nothing happened.
Activision is aware of this issue and player’s concerns and released an in-depth update on their anti-cheat progress on April 12.
Because so many players have been concerned that account bans are ineffective, Call of Duty staff responded to this, saying that “Removing cheaters and taking away their ability to move to alternate accounts is a key focus for the security teams.”
They confirmed that if you’re cheating, not only could you be unknowingly downloading malware to your system, you could also receive a hardware ban.
To make sure players don’t keep creating fresh accounts to cheat with, Activision said, “We do issue hardware bans against repeat, or serial, cheaters. This is an important part of our effort to combat repeat offenders.”
This means that players who receive a hardware ban will be permanently locked out and won’t be able to simply create a new, free account and go back to their cheating ways.
Activision also confirmed that not only are they targeting individual accounts with cheats installed, but also “the commercial market of cheat providers and resellers.” They revealed that they have recently banned “45,000 fraudulent, black market accounts used by repeat offenders.”
Cheaters will likely still make their way into your Warzone sessions, but Activision is making sure it’s continuously more risky and difficult to do.
In the meantime, you can check out our guide on how to spot cheaters in Warzone so you can assist Activision by reporting these players.
Image Credit: Activision
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.
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