Sledgehammer Games has seen its fair share of ups and downs since the studio initially started back in 2010. The studio was co-founded by Michael Condrey and Glen Schofield, two former EA VPs who worked on Dead Space franchise.
The studio started its Call of Duty journey by co-developing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 with Infinity Ward in 2011. After that, Activision shifted Call of Duty to a 3 year developer cycle starting in 2014, when Sledgehammer Games worked on their own Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, then launched Call of Duty: WWII in 2017.
The studio had a rough year in 2018 when both co-founders left the company, and many developers left Sledgehammer to follow Condrey and Schofield to their respective new places.
Now, the studio appears to have stablized and picked back up going into the future. The studio started its ‘Decade II’ in August 2019, and the studio’s new COO Andy Wilson says they have setup a clear patch for the future. In an interview with VentureBeat, Wilson talks about the studio and what’s happening.
The studio is now working on multiple projects, presumably within Call of Duty world, and is looking to hire 100 more developers for their San Francisco, CA and Melbourne, AU office.
The point was to treat that moment as the first day of the second age of Sledgehammer Games and not just a celebration of what came before, because for all the studio’s success we could see there was so much we could do going-forward: culturally for certain, but also in terms of structure, the move to more than one project, the continued growth of the team in Melbourne and so on. The great thing about Decade II, Day One was that was actually the end-point of months of solid work to establish a clear plan for the future. The result is a team and studio with a clear roadmap and an enormous opportunity ahead of it, with a lot of great new team members signing up for the journey.
He confirmed that the studio is now multi-project based and is actively hiring. They currently have 200 people and want to add 100 more.
We’re now a multi-project studio and we’re looking for a substantial number of new team members to join us. We’re looking across every discipline and various levels of seniority. It’s a pretty exciting time for our studio.
It’s not clear yet what exactly the multi-projects the studio is working on. In May 2019, it was reported that Sledgehammer and Raven faced hardships on the work for 2020 Call of Duty, and Activision put Treyarch in charge of this year’s game. There still is no info on what the 2020 Call of Duty game and is if Sledgehammer is contributing to that project.
As always, stay tuned.
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.
Activision merges Vicarious Visions into Blizzard Entertainment
Activision owned Vicarious Visions will now be part of Blizzard Entertainment division.
Activision has announced that one of their wholly owned studios, Vicarious Visions, will no longer be part of the Activision Publishing division.
The company has revealed that Vicarious Visions will be fully merged into Blizzard Entertainment division of the company effective immediately.
Vicarious Visions has worked on many titles and projects for Activision, including Skylanders, Destiny franchise, supported development of select Call of Duty games, and more. Most recently, the studio developed and released remasters of Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1+2. The studio was listed as a support developer of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare.
In a statement to GamesIndustry, Blizzard says the studio becomes a “natural fit” after working on several Blizzard projects behind the scenes for the last several years.
“After collaborating with Vicarious Visions for some time and developing a great relationship, Blizzard realized there was an opportunity for [Vicarious Visions] to provide long-term support,” a representative explained to us.
It’s not truly clear how long Vicarious has been supporting Blizzard projects.
Vicarious Visions’ studio head Jen Oneal has been promoted to be Executive VP of Development at Blizzard Entertainment as part of the merger. She will report directly to Blizzard President J. Allen Barrack. All 200 Vicarious Vision employees will be part of Blizzard and work on Blizzard projects.
Her role is being replaced by Simon Ebejer, who was previously the Chief Operating Officer of the studio. It’s not clear what projects within Blizzard they are working on. Blizzard has multiple projects in the works, including Overwatch 2, Diablo 4, and more.
Treyarch dev Tony Flame’s Twitter account hacked
On this Christmas morning, Treyarch’s Lead Designer, Tony Flame, has had his Twitter hacked.
A user hacked Tony Flame’s Twitter account in the early morning hours of December 25, and has gone on a posting rampage, including posting racial slurs and more across the account. The hacker is @wixyV3.
We’re not going to showcase posts here with any racial slurs. The Twitter account has been locked by Twitter for the amount of slurs the hackers have posted, per images sent around in Discord servers.
One of the hacked tweets that has gone viral is about SBMM, asking Activision to remove it from his “game” he “worked hard to make.”
The account still remains hacked at this hour, but it does appear that tweets are being blocked from posting at this time. Twitter locked the account due to the content being posted.
Tony Flame’s account is not verified on the platform.
Flame has been active in posting since Black Ops Cold War’s alpha launched back in September. He’s been posting updates and thoughts around what the team is doing in terms of balancing and content updates.
The last tweet from Flame himself was a Merry Christmas post on the night of December 24.
Activision has not stated anything yet on this hack.
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