In an interview which provided him thirty minutes of opportunity, Activision studio boss Dave Stohl passed up the chance to lavish praise on the new Bungie project. He chose against hyping Treyarch’s upcoming Call of Duty game – the publisher’s biggest title this year – and in fact he decided to not mention any Activision game with the kind of hyperbole expected from publisher executives. There was one exception.
When talk turned to Sledgehammer, the company’s newest studio, Stohl was eager to emphasise the progress the group has made since starting out twelve months ago.
”They are still a core team size right now, but I will say they have built something that sets the highest bar,” he said.
”It’s incredible, really. I love the idea of building towards triple-A, no excuses, and what the team at Sledgehammer is doing is definitely that.”
Sledgehammer was founded by Glen Schofield and Michael Condrey, two former bosses at EA studio Visceral. Both left their previous company in what is continually emerging as acrimonious circumstances. Last month Schofield himself, posting on his (unconfirmed) Twitter account, said EA “treated me like shit even after creating Dead Space for them”.
The group is carefully hiring to grow beyond its core team size, and recently announced that job vacancies are open to help build a “Call of Duty First Person Shooter”.
Rumours circulating suggest that Sledgehammer has been given the daunting duty to develop the third Modern Warfare title, with the series’ previous developer – Infinity Ward – still reeling from its destructive legal row with Activision
Yet the Call of Duty roadmap remains unclear, with three – perhaps four – studios thought to be working on the series.
Activision recently created a dedicated Call of Duty business division within its own company.
”Call of Duty needs to be its own business," Stohl told Develop.
"It needs to be supported, it needs to be focused on, and we have all kinds of ideas with the series,”
Stohl’s no-nonsense attitude was made clear throughout the interview – even if his Sledgehammer praise portrays him otherwise.
Yet the development exec, who himself is edging towards veteran standing, remained cagey on specifying the projects at both Sledgehammer and Infinity Ward.
He did, however, heavily suggest that Sledgehammer is not building its own engine for the new project - meaning that, in theory, less development time is being spent on tech engineering.
”What Sledgehammer is doing is the coolest thing," he added. "Honestly it’s great. Wherever they end up in the fray of titles and genres, they are building towards something incredible.”