Activision has removed Raven and Sledgehammer from leading the development of 2020's Call of Duty instalment and instead assigned Treyarch to lead the project.

In a report by Kotaku, three people familiar with the companies confirmed the highly unusual change that breaks Activision's cyclical development schedule that typically rotates from Treyarch to Infinity Ward to Sledgehammer. If the rumours are true, this'll see Activision break this cycle for the first time since 2012.

It was already unusual for Activision to have assigned Raven to co-lead development, but now the publisher has completely broken from tradition and moved the 2020 Call of Duty - previously rumoured to be set during the cold war, most likely Vietnam - to Treyarch for what is thought to be Call of Duty: Black Ops 5. It's believed both Raven and Sledgehammer differed in their perspectives, and two people reported tension between the two studios. Frequent arguments between the developers are thought to have made the game "a mess", forcing Activision to intervene and reassign Treyarch to lead it.

The work done by Raven and Sledgehammer will now likely be repackaged as the single-player campaign, but this does mean that rather than the typical three-year cycle, Treyarch will only have two years to make Black Ops 5. Kotaku reports some developers at the company are "not pleased about that" and are bracing themselves for "brutal overtime hours like they faced last year on Black Ops 4". Others, however, are reportedly excited about the changes and believe they have a "solid game plan" in place that isn't likely to deviate much.

As for this year's Call of Duty game? That seemingly remains unaffected. While unannounced, its in development with Infinity Ward and is widely considered to be a new Modern Warfare instalment. Interestingly, three sources report Activision is "looking into offering a free-to-play component for this year's new Modern Warfare", although it has reportedly not yet finalised any plans.

Activision declined to comment to Kotaku.

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Vikki Blake

Vikki Blake

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When​ ​her friends​ ​were falling in love with soap stars, Vikki was falling in love with​ ​video games. She's a survival horror survivalist​ ​with a penchant for​ ​Yorkshire Tea, men dressed up as doctors and sweary words. She struggles to juggle a fair-to-middling Destiny/Halo addiction​ ​and her kill/death ratio is terrible.