Raven Software and Sledgehammer Games were canned from making the 2020 Call of Duty game due to reported tension between the two studios.
There are a few things you can count on in this life. The first is death, the second is taxes, and the third is a brand new Call of Duty game arriving by the fall. Like clockwork, every year Activision rolls out a new Call of Duty, makes a bajillion dollars, and then gets to work getting the next one ready for release the next year.
Keeping this rate of blockbuster releases going requires not one, but three game studios working on a rotating three-year schedule. First is Infinity Ward, then Sledgehammer Games, and finally Treyarch Studios as makers of the Black Ops sub-brand. The last game to come out was Black Ops IIII from Treyarch in 2018, which means Infinity Ward will come out with a new game for 2019.
In a departure from the natural order, Activision switched things up for 2020. Instead of just Sledgehammer making the game, they partnered them with Raven Games to co-create Call of Duty 2020, which was said to be a game based in the Cold War-era and likely take place during the Vietnam War.
According to a new report from Kotaku, however, Raven and Sledgehammer did not get along. Multiple sources within Activision report of “tension” between the two studios, “whose staff are said to have argued frequently during the past year of development on Call of Duty 2020."
Things got so bad that Activision had to step in and perform another grand upheaval of their usual 3-year rotation and tap Treyarch to put out Black Ops 5 a year ahead of schedule. Now instead of having three years from the end of Black Ops 4, Treyarch will have just two years to use whatever Raven and Sledgehammer made for the 2020 Call of Duty and convert it into a single-player campaign to use in Black Ops 5.
Raven and Sledgehammer will be sub-studios helping Treyarch pump out a three-year game in just two years. But even with their help, it seems unlikely that Treyarch will be able to produce a completed Call of Duty without an extreme amount of overtime and “crunch” at a time when the industry is fighting for better working conditions for developers.