Sledgehammer Games

Last updated

Sledgehammer Games, Inc.
TypeSubsidiary
Industry Video games
FoundedJuly 21, 2009;12 years ago (2009-07-21)
Founders Michael Condrey, Glen Schofield
Headquarters Foster City, California, United States
Key people
Aaron Halon (Studio Head)
Products Call of Duty series (2011–present)
Number of employees
200+ [1]
Parent Activision
Subsidiaries Sledgehammer Games Melbourne [2]
Sledgehammer Games Toronto [3]
Website sledgehammergames.com

Sledgehammer Games, Inc. is an American video game developer company formed in 2009 by Glen Schofield and Michael Condrey. The pair formerly worked at Visceral Games and are responsible for the creation of Dead Space . The company is an independent, yet wholly owned subsidiary of Activision [4] [ better source needed ] and is based in Foster City, California. [5] The studio is known for developing or co-developing various video games in the Call of Duty series.

Contents

History

Sledgehammer Games co-founders Schofield and Condrey worked together at Electronic Arts in 2005 on 007: From Russia with Love , with Condrey as director and Schofield executive producer. The collaboration carried forward to Dead Space. The two men had complementary skills and similar backgrounds—middle class with fathers in the construction business. [4] [6]

After founding Sledgehammer Games on July 21, 2009, Schofield and Condrey made Activision a proposal: they would attempt to replicate their success with Dead Space, with a third-person spin-off of the Call of Duty franchise. Activision sat on the proposal for weeks until Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick offered to bring the studio into the Activision fold. Schofield and Condrey accepted, viewing Activision's independent studio model as an opportunity to preserve the company's creative culture, development methodology and staff, while having the security of an alliance with the industry's largest publisher. [6] [7] [8]

Sledgehammer Games spent six to eight months working on the Call of Duty project in 2009, enough to produce a prototype with about 15 minutes of play. [9] The game would have reportedly extended the franchise into the action-adventure genre, but a legal battle between Infinity Ward, the studio behind the Modern Warfare franchise, and co-founders Jason West and Vince Zampella resulted in the pair's departure. They took several Infinity Ward employees with them to their new company, leaving Activision with about half the staff and a deadline of about 20 months (versus a typical 24 months) to complete the next game in the franchise, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 . Activision requested that Sledgehammer Games stop work on the third-person shooter and collaborate with Infinity Ward instead. [6]

The offer was a gamble for both sides. Activision was calling on a studio that had not put out a game on its own, while Sledgehammer Games would be abandoning weeks of work in the genre they were most familiar with to take on a punishing schedule in a high-profile franchise. Infinity Ward was more likely to receive credit for any success while Sledgehammer Games was apt to be blamed for any failure. The studio first polled its staff and got unanimous approval. "It was a massive risk for Schofield and Condrey's new studio, and one that most outside of the industry never considered", wrote Ryan Fleming in Digital Trends. "The Infinity Ward name was the marquis on the Modern Warfare franchise, but failure to deliver on Activision's golden egg would have resulted in a wave that crippled those in its path. Looking back at the success of that game and franchise as a whole, it is easy to overlook the chance Sledgehammer took." [6]

The collaboration with Infinity Ward marked the first time a co-development relationship would produce a Modern Warfare title, with both companies' logos appearing on the packaging. Despite the companies’ differing histories and development methodologies, GamesTM called the arrangement a rare symbiotic relationship for such a high-profile game. The two teams first met in the spring of 2010 to compare ideas. There was some overlap: both teams wanted to set the game in Europe and, recalled Schofield, achieve a “payoff on the story that had been told over the last four years.” [9]

It was announced in February 2014 that Sledgehammer Games would be developing a new Call of Duty title, slated for release in late 2014. On May 1, Game Informer teased a high resolution image of a soldier wearing an exo-skeleton suit. It was also announced that more details, the cover, the full name, and a trailer would be released on May 4. However the trailer was leaked which confirmed the release of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare on November 4, 2014. [10]

On April 21, 2017, Sledgehammer Games and Activision announced their next Call of Duty game, titled Call of Duty: WWII . It was released on November 3, 2017. [11]

In February 2018, Glen Schofield and Michael Condrey left Sledgehammer Games but still working with Activision. [12] In December 2018, Condrey subsequently left Activision to start a career with 2K Games in the Bay Area with 31st Union. Schofield also left the studio to found Striking Distance. [13]

In 2019, while working on Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War , the 2020 entry in the series, with Raven Software, the two teams had differing ideas on the game. This led Call of Duty publisher Activision to bring in fellow developer Treyarch to take over the lead development role for Black Ops Cold War, while Sledgehammer and Raven Software took on partner roles.

Sledgehammer opened a new studio in Melbourne, Australia by September 2019. [14] In May 2020, Sledgehammer Games COO Andy Wilson confirmed that the studio was now a multi-project studio with over 200 employees, with plans to hire up to 100 new employees over the next year. [15]

In May 2021, Sledgehammer announced the opening of a new studio in Toronto, Canada. [3]

Operations and culture

Sledgehammer Games operates out of a custom-designed studio with an open-plan space, high-end development equipment, and a theater. [9] Schofield oversees the company's creative effort; Condrey its business operation. [4] The core development team includes Creative Director Bret Robbins, Audio Director Don Veca, Animation Director Chris Stone and Senior Development Director Aaron Halon. [16]

As of February 2013, Sledgehammer employs about 200 people, with an unusually low turnover of under 1 percent. New employees are given a challenge coin engraved with the Sledgehammer Games' values. The tradition dates back to a World War I practice of giving soldiers coins with a squadron's insignia that could be used to prove membership. [6]

Games

YearTitlePlatform(s)Notes
2011 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Windows Co-developed with Infinity Ward
2014 Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Windows
2017 Call of Duty: WWII PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows
2019 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows Assisting with Infinity Ward
2020 Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Windows Assisting with Treyarch and Raven Software
2021Unnamed Call of Duty gameTBC

Related Research Articles

Raven Software American video game development company

Raven Software Corporation is an American video game developer based in Wisconsin and founded in 1990. In 1997, Raven made an exclusive publishing deal with Activision and was subsequently acquired by them. After the acquisition, many of the studio's original developers, largely responsible for creating the Heretic and Hexen: Beyond Heretic games, left to form Human Head Studios.

Activision American video game publisher

Activision Publishing, Inc. is an American video game publisher based in Santa Monica, California. It currently serves as the publishing business for its parent company, Activision Blizzard, and consists of several subsidiary studios. Activision is one of the largest third-party video game publishers in the world and was the top United States publisher in 2016.

Infinity Ward, Inc. is an American video game developer. They developed the video game Call of Duty, along with seven other installments in the Call of Duty series. Vince Zampella, Grant Collier, and Jason West established Infinity Ward in 2002 after working at 2015, Inc. previously. All of the 22 original team members of Infinity Ward came from the team that had worked on Medal of Honor: Allied Assault while at 2015, Inc. Activision helped fund Infinity Ward in its early days, buying up 30 percent of the company. The studio's first game, World War II shooter Call of Duty, was released on the PC in 2003. The day after the game was released, Activision bought the rest of Infinity Ward, signing employees to long-term contracts. Infinity Ward went on to make Call of Duty 2, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Call of Duty: Ghosts, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and the Modern Warfare reboot.

Neversoft American video game developer

Neversoft Entertainment was an American video game developer, founded in July 1994 by Joel Jewett, Mick West, and Chris Ward. Neversoft was known for the Spider-Man video game as well as the Tony Hawk's and Guitar Hero video game franchises. The company was acquired by Activision in October 1999. Their last game was the Extinction mode of Call of Duty: Ghosts, and the studio merged with Infinity Ward, a primary developer on the Call of Duty franchise, on May 3, 2014, and was made defunct on July 10, 2014.

Treyarch Corporation, formerly known as Treyarch Invention, is an American video game developer, founded in 1996 by Peter Akemann and Doğan Köslü, and acquired by Activision in 2001. Located in Santa Monica, California, it is known for its work for the Call of Duty series, alongside Infinity Ward, Sledgehammer Games, and Raven Software.

Call of Duty is a first-person shooter video game franchise published by Activision. Starting out in 2003, it first focused on games set in World War II. Over time, the series has seen games set in the midst of the Cold War, futuristic worlds, and outer space. The games were first developed by Infinity Ward, then also by Treyarch and Sledgehammer Games. Several spin-off and handheld games were made by other developers. The most recent title, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, was released on November 13, 2020.

<i>Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare</i> 2007 video game

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is a 2007 first-person shooter developed by Infinity Ward and published by Activision. It is the fourth main installment in the Call of Duty series. The game breaks away from the World War II setting of previous entries and is instead set in modern times. Developed for over two years, Modern Warfare was released in November 2007 for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Microsoft Windows, and was ported to the Wii as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare – Reflex Edition in 2009.

Activision Blizzard American video game company

Activision Blizzard, Inc. is an American video game holding company based in Santa Monica, California. The company was founded in July 2008 through the merger of Activision, Inc. and Vivendi Games. The company is traded on the NASDAQ stock exchange under the ticker symbol ATVI, and since 2015 has been one of the stocks that make up the S&P 500. Activision Blizzard currently includes five business units: Activision Publishing, Blizzard Entertainment, King, Major League Gaming, and Activision Blizzard Studios.

Glen Schofield American video game artist, designer, director and producer

Glen Schofield is an American video game artist, designer, director, and producer, he is currently the CEO of the Striking Distance Studios. He was formerly the vice president and general manager at Visceral Games, and the creator and executive producer of the third-person survival horror video game Dead Space. Trained as an artist, Schofield has developed some 50 games, from children's titles to action, that have grossed more than $3 billion in revenues.

<i>Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2</i> 2009 video game

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is a 2009 first-person shooter game developed by Infinity Ward and published by Activision. It is the sixth installment in the Call of Duty series and the direct sequel to Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, continuing the storyline. It was released worldwide on November 10, 2009, for Microsoft Windows, the PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. A separate version for the Nintendo DS, titled Modern Warfare: Mobilized, was also released on the same day. A version for macOS was developed by Aspyr and released in May 2014, and the Xbox 360 version was made backward compatible for the Xbox One in 2018.

Respawn Entertainment, LLC is an American video game development studio founded by Jason West and Vince Zampella. West and Zampella previously co-founded Infinity Ward and created the Call of Duty franchise, where they were responsible for its development until 2010. The studio created the Titanfall first-person shooter series that debuted in 2014. Respawn was acquired by Electronic Arts on December 1, 2017. The studio developed the action-adventure game Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, which was released in November 2019, and the free-to-play battle royale game Apex Legends, released in February 4, 2019. Respawn developed Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond, released on December 11, 2020, for which it became the first video game developer to receive an Academy Award.

IW (game engine) Game engine developed by Infinity Ward

The IW engine is a game engine developed by Infinity Ward and Treyarch for the Call of Duty series. The engine was originally based on id Tech 3 as its core, since the engine itself is proprietary with inclusion of GtkRadiant by id Software. It has been used in the past by Infinity Ward, Treyarch, Raven Software and Sledgehammer Games.

<i>Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3</i> 2011 video game

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is a 2011 first-person shooter video game, jointly developed by Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer Games and published by Activision. The game was released worldwide in November 2011 for Microsoft Windows, the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii. It is the third and final installment in the original Modern Warfare saga, a direct sequel to 2009's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, and the eighth Call of Duty installment overall. A separate version for the Nintendo DS was developed by n-Space, while Treyarch developed the game's Wii port. In Japan, Square Enix published the game with a separate subtitled and dubbed version.

Call of Duty: XP 2011 was the first annual convention hosted by Activision to celebrate their video game series Call of Duty. The convention was held in Los Angeles, California from September 2–3, 2011 in and around a 12-acre hangar where developer Infinity Ward showcased their upcoming game, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and online service Call of Duty: Elite. The convention offered fans an opportunity to observe and participate in various events and attractions such as a $1 million tournament, live performances from various artists, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 multiplayer, paintball, jeep off-roading, zip-lining, and a full-scale replica of Burger Town from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.

Michael Condrey American game designer

Michael Condrey is the co-founder and former studio head of Sledgehammer Games, which he founded with Glen Schofield after their collaboration on the popular video game franchise Dead Space. He is now the president of 31st Union, a 2K studio located in Silicon Valley, California.

<i>Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare</i> 2014 First-person shooter video game

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is a 2014 first-person shooter video game published by Activision. The eleventh major installment in the Call of Duty series, the game was developed by Sledgehammer Games for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, while High Moon Studios developed the versions released on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, and Raven Software developed the game's multiplayer and the Exo-Zombies mode.

<i>Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare</i> 2016 video game

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare is a 2016 first-person shooter video game developed by Infinity Ward and published by Activision. It is the thirteenth installment in the Call of Duty series and was released worldwide for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on November 4, 2016.

<i>Call of Duty: WWII</i> 2017 WWII first-person shooter video game

Call of Duty: WWII is a 2017 first-person shooter video game developed by Sledgehammer Games and published by Activision. It was released worldwide on November 3, 2017 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. It is the fourteenth main installment in the Call of Duty series and the first title in the series to be set primarily during World War II since Call of Duty: World at War in 2008.

<i>Call of Duty: Modern Warfare</i> (2019 video game) 2019 video game

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is a 2019 first-person shooter video game developed by Infinity Ward and published by Activision. Serving as the sixteenth overall installment in the Call of Duty series, as well as a reboot of the Modern Warfare sub-series, it was released on October 25, 2019, for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

References

  1. Takahashi, Dean (May 10, 2020). "Activision's Sledgehammer Games bounces back with a multi-city hiring spree". Archived from the original on May 10, 2020. Retrieved May 10, 2020.
  2. https://venturebeat.com/2019/11/29/why-call-of-duty-wwii-developer-sledgehammer-is-expanding-to-australia/
  3. 1 2 @SHGames (May 4, 2021). "Today we're also thrilled to announce we're expanding with a new team in Toronto, Canada to partner with our teams in Foster City, CA and Melbourne, VIC!" (Tweet) via Twitter.
  4. 1 2 3 Rogers, Bruce (February 21, 2013). "Glen Schofield and Michael Condrey's Sledgehammer Games: Growing the Call of Duty Franchise". Forbes. Archived from the original on February 28, 2013. Retrieved March 1, 2013.
  5. "Sledgehammer Games: Inside the Studio". Activision Publishing, Inc. Archived from the original on November 27, 2012. Retrieved October 24, 2012.
  6. "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Feature: Who is Sledgehammer Games?". Gamespot. Archived from the original on April 14, 2013. Retrieved November 1, 2012.
  7. Brightman, James (November 8, 2011). "Better Know Sledgehammer's Michael Condrey and Glen Schofield". Industrygamers. Archived from the original on January 30, 2013. Retrieved November 6, 2012.
  8. 1 2 3 "The Art of Modern War". GamesTM (113). September 2011. Archived from the original on October 15, 2012. Retrieved November 16, 2012.
  9. "Activision confirms 3-year dev cycle for the Call of Duty franchise; SHGames game coming in 2014". February 6, 2014. Archived from the original on April 20, 2015. Retrieved April 27, 2015.
  10. "WWII confirmed. Watch the worldwide reveal of #CODWWII on 4/26 at 10 am PDT/1PM EDT". April 21, 2017. Archived from the original on April 26, 2017. Retrieved April 25, 2017.[ non-primary source needed ]
  11. "Sledgehammer co-founders Glen Schofield and Michael Condrey have left the studio". February 20, 2018. Archived from the original on October 9, 2018. Retrieved October 9, 2018.
  12. Ivan, Tom (April 8, 2019). "Sledgehammer's former boss is aiming to make a 'quad-A' PUBG game". Video Games Chronicle. Retrieved November 10, 2020.
  13. Prescott, Shaun (September 5, 2019). "Call of Duty studio Sledgehammer Games has opened an Australian branch". PC Gamer . Retrieved September 5, 2019.
  14. Takahashi, Dean (May 10, 2020). "Activision's Sledgehammer Games bounces back with a multi-city hiring spree" . Retrieved May 10, 2020.
  15. "Inside the Studio". Sledgehammer Games. Archived from the original on November 27, 2012. Retrieved November 16, 2012.