Sledgehammer Games

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Sledgehammer Games
Type Subsidiary of Activision
Industry Video games
Founded 2009
Headquarters Foster City, California, USA
Key people Glen Schofield (GM/CEO), Michael Condrey (VP/COO)
Products Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
Owners Activision
Employees 225[1]
Parent Activision
Website Official website

Sledgehammer Games is an American video game developer, formed in 2009 by industry veterans Glen Schofield and Michael Condrey. The pair formerly worked at Visceral Games and are responsible for the Dead Space video game but left before the creation of the sequels. The company is an independent, wholly owned subsidiary of Activision[2] and is based in Foster City, California.[3] This studio is known for co-developing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 with Infinity Ward. The game was released on November 8, 2011 and earned $1 billion in 16 days. On May 1, 2014, Sledgehammer Games announced Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, which was released on November 4, 2014.

History[edit]

Sledgehammer Games co-founders Schofield and Condrey first worked together at EA 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.[2][4]

After founding Sledgehammer Games in July 2009, Schofield and Condrey made Activision a proposal: they would attempt to replicate their success with Dead Space, one of the industry's most successful third-person shooters, 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.[4][5][6]

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.[7] The game would have reportedly extended the franchise into the action-adventure genre. But then 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 3–5 years) 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.[4]

The offer was a gamble for both sides. Activision was calling on a studio that had never 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 Flemming 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."[4]

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.”[7]

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 GameInformer 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 got leaked and it's confirmed that the new game will be called Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and is set to be released on November 4, 2014.[8]

Operations and culture[edit]

Sledgehammer Games operates out of a custom-designed studio with an open-plan space, high-end development equipment, and a theater.[7] Schofield oversees the company's creative effort; Condrey its business operation.[2] The core development team includes Creative Director Bret Robbins, Audio Director Don Veca, Animation Director Chris Stone and Senior Development Director Aaron Halon.[9]

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.[4]

Reception[edit]

Forbes reporter Bruce Rogers wrote that Sledgehammer Games's first title, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, became the fastest selling entertainment product of all time (only recently pushed back to second fastest by Rockstar Games' Grand Theft Auto V with $800 million within 24 hours), beating the record held by James Cameron’s film Avatar. "The Call of Duty gaming franchise is arguably the largest entertainment property of all time–bigger than Harry Potter and James Bond."[2] The title sold 6.5 million copies in the US and UK alone (9.3 million units worldwide) and grossed $400 million within 24 hours of going on sale surpassing the previous year's record set by Call of Duty: Black Ops made by Treyarch.[10][11] The title grossed more than $775 million globally in its first five days[12] and 1 billion in 16 days, with an average Metacritic score of 88.[4]Modern Warfare 3 also topped the UK video game sales chart in its first week.[13] By November 21, 2011, the game remained the bestselling title in the United Kingdom, despite sales dropping by 87%.[14] Modern Warfare 3 held the top spot on the UK charts for a third week and fourth week running.[15][16] The PS3 version of Modern Warfare 3 also topped the Japanese chart in its first week on sale. The PS3 version shifted 180,372 copies, while the Xbox 360 version sold around 30,000.[17]

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 took the Best Shooter prize at the 2011 Spike Video Game Awards.[18] The following year, the game was named Game Design of the Year at the Korea Games Conference and won the Global Award from Japan Game Awards 2012 at the Tokyo Game Show.[19][20]

Along with Raven Software and Infinity Ward, Sledgehammer Games contributed to the creation of Modern Warfare 3 DLC throughout the 9 month season which began on the 24th of January 2012 for Xbox 360 ELITE Premium members. 24 pieces of DLC were released for Modern Warfare 3 over a 9 month period.[21]

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Sledgehammer's second release, has received positive reviews from critics. Official Xbox Magazine described Sledgehammer Games as the "New king of Call of Duty" in their Advanced Warfare review. [22]

Games[edit]

Title Engine Release date Platform(s) GameRankings[23] Notes
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 MW3 engine November 8, 2011 Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 88.49%[24][25][26][27] Co-developed with Infinity Ward
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare In-house engine November 3-4, 2014 Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One 85.34% [28][29] First game as lead developer.

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://venturebeat.com/2014/08/01/a-look-inside-sledgehammer-games-the-new-call-of-duty-studio-photo-gallery/
  2. ^ a b c d Rogers, Bruce (February 21, 2013). "Glen Schofield and Michael Condrey's Sledgehammer Games: Growing the Call of Duty Franchise". Forbes. Retrieved 1 March 2013. 
  3. ^ "Sledgehammer Games: Inside the Studio". Activision Publishing, Inc. Retrieved 24 October 2012. 
  4. ^ "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Feature: Who is Sledgehammer Games?". Gamespot. Retrieved 1 November 2012. 
  5. ^ Brightman, James (November 8, 2011). "Better Know Sledgehammer's Michael Condrey and Glen Schofield". Industrygamers. Retrieved 6 November 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c "The Art of Modern War". GamesTM (113). September 2011. Retrieved 16 November 2012. 
  7. ^ http://www.charlieintel.com/2014/02/06/activision-confirms-3-dev-cycle-for-the-call-of-duty-franchise-shgames-game-coming-in-2014/
  8. ^ "Inside the Studio". Sledgehammer Games. Retrieved 16 November 2012. 
  9. ^ Macdonald, Keza (11-11-11). "Modern Warfare 3 Has Biggest Launch Of Anything Ever". IGN. Retrieved 11-14-11.  Check date values in: |date=, |accessdate= (help)
  10. ^ Magrino, Tom (11-11-11). "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 sets new launch records". Gamespot. Retrieved 11-14-11.  Check date values in: |date=, |accessdate= (help)
  11. ^ Ivan, Tom (11-17-11). "MW3 Sets 5 Day Entertainment Sales Record". CVG. Retrieved 11-17-11.  Check date values in: |date=, |accessdate= (help)
  12. ^ Purchese, Robert (11-14-11). "MW3 Topped UK video game sales charts". Eurogamer. Retrieved 11-18-11.  Check date values in: |date=, |accessdate= (help)
  13. ^ "UK Top 40: MW3 Denies AC". Eurogamer. 11-21-11. Retrieved 12-03-11.  Check date values in: |date=, |accessdate= (help)
  14. ^ "UK Chart: MW3 Holds Top Spot". CVG. 11-28-11. Retrieved 11-30-11.  Check date values in: |date=, |accessdate= (help)
  15. ^ Rose, Mike (12-05-11). "Fourth Consecutive Week At Top Of UK Charts For MW3". Retrieved 12-05-11.  Check date values in: |date=, |accessdate= (help)
  16. ^ "MW3 Tops Japanese Chart". CVG. 11-24-11. Retrieved 11-30-11.  Check date values in: |date=, |accessdate= (help)
  17. ^ "Best Shooter". Category: Shooter. Video Game Awards. Retrieved 29 October 2012. 
  18. ^ "Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 Awarded Game Design of the Year by the Korea Game Conference". Sledgehammer Games: News. Retrieved 29 October 2012. 
  19. ^ "Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 Receives the Global Award from the Japanese Game Awards". Sledgehammer Games: News. September 24, 2012. Retrieved 10 January 2013. 
  20. ^ "MW3 Content Drops 1 & 2". Call of Duty Map Packs. Retrieved 2012-03-31. 
  21. ^ "Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare review". Official Xbox Magazine. November 3, 2014. Retrieved November 3, 2014. 
  22. ^ Scores are the average of the GameRankings aggregate score received for all platforms.
  23. ^ "GameRankings Reviews: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (Xbox 360)". GameRankings. 
  24. ^ "GameRankings Reviews: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 4 (PlayStation 3)". GameRankings. 
  25. ^ "GameRankings Reviews: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (PC)". GameRankings. 
  26. ^ "GameRankings Reviews: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (Wii)". GameRankings. 
  27. ^ "Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare for Xbox One". GameRankings. CBS Interactive. Retrieved November 3, 2014. 
  28. ^ "Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare for PlayStation 4". GameRankings. CBS Interactive. Retrieved November 3, 2014. 

External links[edit]