Giant Bomb has obtained word that Call of Duty developer Infinity Ward is merging with fellow developer Neversoft, who has previously worked on Tony Hawk, Guitar Hero, and Call of Duty titles. The new studio will take the name Infinity Ward, with the Neversoft name and logo being retired as a result. Eric Hirshberg, Activision’s CEO of publishing, announced the new in an internal memo.
“As you know, Neversoft and Infinity Ward teamed up for the development of Call of Duty: Ghosts,” wrote Hirshberg. “And through that process, it became clear that the two studios have very complementary skill sets. Between these two excellent studios, it seemed like a single ‘super-studio’ could emerge.
“As already mentioned, we are merging these two very talented teams and obviously had to choose a name for the combined studio. Since the Infinity Ward brand is indelibly tied to the Call of Duty franchise, it is the sensible choice. While it will be strange to not see the Neversoft logo on future games, the important things–which are the Neversoft team’s talent, creativity, professionalism and commitment to creative excellence–all remain unchanged as part of this new chapter.”
Major shakeups are happening at each studio as a result. Neversoft Studio director Scott Pease and Studio Head Joel Jewett “have made the difficult decision to retire” from games. These two have been with the Neversoft through it’s entire lifespan, with Jewett being one of the studios three founders. Dave Stohl, Activision’s current executive VP of worldwide studios, has been assigned to lead the new super studio. According to Giantbomb, Stohl helped lead Infinity Ward through it’s previous dramatic changes as well.
This is not the first time a studio has been merged with another by Activision. In 2005, after shipping the Call of Duty expansion United Fronts, Grey Matter Interactive was merged with Treyarch. That merger, arguably, worked out for the best, as the quality of Treyarch’s titles continued to rise afterward. No game was mentioned, but with the new three year Call of Duty development cycle, it’s assumed they will be making 2016’s Call of Duty title.
This reporter’s opinion: This is surprising and a little sad. Infinity Ward has been in trouble ever since the mass exodus in 2010, with studio heads Jason West and Vince Zampella being forced out. Since then, Infinity Ward has had to rely on studios like Neversoft, Raven Software, and Sledgehammer Games to complete their previous two titles (Ghosts and Modern Warfare 3). This move will hopefully allow for the quality of the games to rise, as Ghosts was arguably the worst game in the franchises’ history. I will certainly miss seeing Neversoft’s sweet logo animations though, and wish those effected by the merger all best with the transition.
by, Bobby Marquardt