Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is out today, and critics and players in Early Access have been hammering the game's underbaked single-player campaign. Wouldn't you know it, it turns out the title was churned out in less than half the time generally allotted to such an undertaking, which would go a long way to explaining the drop in quality.
In a bombshell report, Bloomberg's Jason Schreier reveals that Modern Warfare 3 was developed in less than 18 months, far less than the typical three-year turnaround the series is known for. Activision Blizzard has achieved this cadence by dedicating three (sometimes more) development studios, which take turns to deliver that year's Call of Duty offering.
It's been a lucrative system that's been working for a long time, generating $30 billion in revenue across more than 20 Call of Duty games released in the past 20 years. According to Bloomberg's sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, this well-oiled machine came off its tracks when another Call of Duty was delayed out of the 2023 release window, and Modern Warfare 3, which was initially pitched as an expansion to Modern Warfare 2, got a battlefield promotion to full game status.
However, issues arose, as developers at Sledgehammer were under the impression they were working on an expansion until much later in development. Further, there were pipeline problems, as Sledgehammer had to check in with Infinity Ward for feedback, the studio which normally handles the Modern Warfare series. Some Sledgehammer employees felt betrayed, as getting it done on time meant crunch, with developers needing to work nights and weekends to release on time. They experienced a similarly tumultuous development with Call of Duty: Vanguard, and management had promised that kind of thing wouldn't happen again.