Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 defied all odds last year, setting a new entertainment sales record for the third consecutive year. In just 24 hours, the game grossed $400 million in the US and UK, and went on to gross $1 billion throughout the world in 16 days of availability. Now months later fans still can't get enough, even though some in the business believe Call of Duty could be fading. The truth of the matter is that the brand has been taken to new heights, and between Call of Duty Elite, a Call of Duty XP show, and tons of DLC content, Call of Duty is truly its own phenomenon.
The recent successes certainly would not be possible without the efforts of Sledgehammer Games, which stepped up in a time of great need for Activision. Sledgehammer co-founder Michael Condrey believes that MW3 has shown what his studio is capable of achieving and he's thrilled to be fueling the franchise with added DLC content - a unique collaborative process between three different developers under Activision's wing.
GamesIndustry International recently caught up with Condrey to discuss the Call of Duty momentum, the pressures and opportunities of next-gen consoles, and the increasing reality that one studio can't do it all on a franchise.
Q: With Call of Duty blowing away everyone's expectations again since last November, have you been able to take a step back and reflect? What has this whole ride been like for you, coming from the Sledgehammer side, and being asked to work on Call of Duty, being asked to step up because Infinity Ward had people leaving?
Michael Condrey: I'm glad you asked. I mean, it has given us a chance to reflect. It was a really remarkable two years and it was a real honor to be a part of it. As you know, Call of Duty sort of transcends entertainment in such a massive way. To think we had a chance to play a part in that. The developers at all the studios involved, in particular Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer, I can't tell you how much passion and dedication was poured into making this the absolutely best game possible. To have it be received well by the fans, to see that sort of interest, the level of engagement…man, it's rewarding beyond words. Was it exciting/challenging/harrowing for two years? Absolutely, the bar was higher than ever. For Sledgehammer Games in particular, a brand new studio, our coming out, if you will - our reputation was going to in some ways be built on how well this game was received.
Now we have a chance to sit back with a humble pride, be pretty thankful. Now we're in the DLC season and continue to support it, and we have people that are really very vocal about what they want to be doing more of and less of, and we have that dialogue, which a lot of games don't have. A lot I've worked on in the past, I worked hard and am proud of what I did in the past, but the community just wasn't there. This is a fantastic community, so yeah this has been a special run for Sledgehammer Games, absolutely.
Q: Is there something about the game that you wanted to be able to implement, that you didn't have enough time for, something you are addressing now with DLC?
Michael Condrey: Someone asked me recently about my take on the idea that DLC now represents content that should be in the box. What I can say hands down, in no uncertain terms, is the studio has poured every last bit of value that they could to put out the best experience in November. Everything that we've delivered since has been new ideas, new innovation and things that we've wanted to do after November. We held nothing back, but it's a massive game. The campaign is an eight-hour blockbuster and I'm really proud of that. We put a lot of time into making that into what it became. Multiplayer...Spec Ops, survival and mission modes... man, we could not have gotten anything else in.
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