We’ve known that a dedicated premium online version of Call of Duty has been in the works for some time now, but Activision’s confirmation that a brand new studio is working on the title certainly came as a surprise.
But details of both the game itself and the people behind it remain shrouded in mystery for the time being.
"We’re pleased to announce our new wholly-owned development studio, Beachhead, which will lead the creation of our all-new digital platform for the Call of Duty franchise," Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg told investors.
"Beachhead will create a best-in-class online community, exclusive content and a suite of services for our Call of Duty fans to supercharge the online gaming experience like never before. The platform will support in-game integration and bring online experiences and console play together for the first time.
"The platform has been in development for over a year, and we’re very excited about the increased value we can bring to the community. We look forward to sharing more specifics on this exciting new endeavour with you in the near future."
It will bring online experiences and console play together "for the first time"? Does this mean cross-platform online multiplayer between PC and Xbox 360/PS3? Does "in-game integration" mean it will work with existing Call of Duty games?
"We’re developing a free-to-play micro-transaction based Call of Duty title for the exploding market in China," Hirshberg added. "This effort, although not slated for this year, has tremendous potential in its own right, but will also offer learnings that we can use throughout our organisation."
Is the Chinese online game the only title in the works at Beachhead? Will it be rolled out internationally? The questions are literally endless.
And what of Beachhead? Confirmation of the studio means that there are as many as five different studios potentially working on the IP.
First off, there’s Treyarch, who in the aftermath of the Infinity Ward saga are now the chiefs of Call of Duty’s console pedigree. Then we have startup Sledgehammer, which is hard at work on a still mysterious first person action addition to the series.
And despite the troubles at series creator Infinity Ward, the studio is very much alive and still embroiled in the Call of Duty hold. What it’s doing is less clear – maybe it’s working on Modern Warfare 3. And don’t forget Singularity developer Raven, which is also working on the series, perhaps in conjunction with Infinity Ward.