Activision puts 500 developers to work across seven studios to ensure Call of Duty remains the biggest brand around. But challenger EA DICE, with Battlefield 3, doesn't. Nor does general manager Karl Magnus Troedsson believe he has to in order to compete at the very highest level.
"There's no self purpose in having a certain amount of people working on a product," Troedsson shared with Eurogamer. "It's more about what we want to try to build.
"At DICE we're about 200 people, something like that, and not everyone has been working on this product. Right now, more or less everybody is. We have much less people - it's more or less like one studio working on this [plus engine team plus consultant partners]. It's going to come down to what we want to do with the games in the future; maybe we need more bandwidth, so to say, from people - then we'll continue growing and getting more people in.
"I, personally, don't believe in distributed development," Troedsson added.
"I believe you can definitely make it work, but there's a lot of other things that you lose by doing this - anything from the kind of culture that you want to keep within the company, to it's going to be harder with ownership. And also, the more people you throw on a project, the less traction you get; you get more overhead, you get more red tape, and all these kind of things. We try to keep things pretty lean and mean when it comes to our development process. We want as many people as possible, preferably all of them, sitting at DICE and sitting close at hand so we can work very tightly together.
"If the question is are we are ready to continue investing to make Battlefield even bigger in the future? The answer is definitely yes."
Karl Magnus Troedsson, general manager, DICE
"If the question is are we are ready to continue investing to make Battlefield even bigger in the future?" Troedsson asked. "The answer is definitely yes."
For those several Activision studios, Call of Duty has become, essentially, their everything. Should Battlefield 3 take off as EA hopes it will, and mount a serious challenge to the galactico-brand Call of Duty, then what will become of DICE, the studio that once broadened our horizons with eye-catching game Mirror's Edge?
"At DICE we are naturally very very focused on making Battlefield games," answered Troedsson. "I'm not talking about just Battlefield 3 of course. As a studio we're also dedicated to making sure that we're not only working on Battlefield games. It's part of our strategy, so to say, that moving forward we want to look into making other games.
"By no means am I now confirming that we're working on Mirror's Edge - don't write that!" he blurted. "But it is our ambition is to work on other titles as well.
"We have been helping out on other projects within EA and doing these sorts of things. But we are game developers at heart and we are eager to come up with new concepts and try them out, and some of them might see the light of day and actually be released as real titles, and some of them will perhaps become prototypes that we can learn something from, and that we can put into some of our bigger titles that are actually on the shipped-plan, so to say."
Battlefield 3 will release two weeks before Modern Warfare 3.