Sledgehammer Games

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Sledgehammer Games, Inc.
TypeSubsidiary
IndustryVideo games
FoundedJuly 21, 2009; 11 years ago (2009-07-21)
FoundersMichael Condrey, Glen Schofield
HeadquartersFoster City, California, United States
Key people
Aaron Halon (Studio Head)
ProductsCall of Duty series (2011–present)
Number of employees
200+[1]
ParentActivision
SubsidiariesSledgehammer Games Melbourne[2]
Websitesledgehammergames.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[3][better source needed] and is based in Foster City, California.[4] The studio is known for developing or co-developing various video games in the Call of Duty series.

History[edit]

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.[3][5]

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.[5][6][7]

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.[8] 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.[5]

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."[5]

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.”[8]

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.[9]

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.[10]

In February 2018, Glen Schofield and Michael Condrey left Sledgehammer Games but still working with Activision.[11] 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.[12]

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.[13] 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.[14]

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.[8] Schofield oversees the company's creative effort; Condrey its business operation.[3] The core development team includes Creative Director Bret Robbins, Audio Director Don Veca, Animation Director Chris Stone and Senior Development Director Aaron Halon.[15]

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.[5]

Games[edit]

Year Title Platform(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

References[edit]

  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. ^ a b c 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.
  4. ^ "Sledgehammer Games: Inside the Studio". Activision Publishing, Inc. Archived from the original on November 27, 2012. Retrieved October 24, 2012.
  5. ^ "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Feature: Who is Sledgehammer Games?". Gamespot. Archived from the original on April 14, 2013. Retrieved November 1, 2012.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ a b c "The Art of Modern War". GamesTM (113). September 2011. Archived from the original on October 15, 2012. Retrieved November 16, 2012.
  8. ^ "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.
  9. ^ "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]
  10. ^ "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.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ Prescott, Shaun (September 5, 2019). "Call of Duty studio Sledgehammer Games has opened an Australian branch". PC Gamer. Retrieved September 5, 2019.
  13. ^ Takahashi, Dean (May 10, 2020). "Activision's Sledgehammer Games bounces back with a multi-city hiring spree". Retrieved May 10, 2020.
  14. ^ "Inside the Studio". Sledgehammer Games. Archived from the original on November 27, 2012. Retrieved November 16, 2012.

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