Source: British game-info site VG247.
What we heard: In July 2008, Infinity Ward announced that its top developers had signed a long-term contract with Activision. Besides involving presumably large monetary sums, the deal allowed the Santa Monica studio to branch out from the Call of Duty series it created in 2002 to work on a "unique new IP."
Now, with Call of Duty franchise sales topping $3 billion, unconfirmed reports indicate Infinity Ward may be focusing on its mystery project. Citing "US Insiders," the UK site says that Activision has farmed out development of the sequel to the megahit Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, which minted $550 million in five days last November.
If Infinity Ward is indeed moving on to its Next Big Thing, who might take over such an important franchise as Modern Warfare? Citing more unnamed sources, VG247 has two suspects: an unnamed Canadian studio, and Sledgehammer Games, Activision's newly founded San Francisco Bay Area studio.
Sledgehammer seems the more likely suspect, given that it has publicly said it is working on a "new game based on one of Activision's existing franchises." It is also currently hiring lead online multiplayer designers who must have at least "five years experience working on current AAA multiplayer shooters for current consoles and PC." Then there's the shop's sterling pedigree: its two founders, Glenn Schofield and Michael Condrey, were the main minds behind Electronic Arts' acclaimed Dead Space series before Activision poached them last July.
The official story: Activision reps had not returned requests for comment as of press time.
Bogus or not bogus?: It's certainly in the realm of possibility, since Call of Duty development has been farmed out before. Since 2006, former Spider-Man developer Treyarch has made World War II-themed entries in the series while Infinity Ward crafted the first two Modern Warfares. Also, after eight years of Call of Duty, the latter studio's talented development team is likely ready to try something completely different.