When Modern Warfare 2 was announced during the Game Developers Choice Awards in March, it did not carry the same title prefix as its processor, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Ever since then, not one single television spot or announcement related to the game has referred to it as anything other than "Modern Warfare 2." Indeed, the name "Call of Duty" has been mentioned by publisher Activision only when referencing the game's developer, Santa Monica, California-based Infinity Ward.
Now, though, Infinity Ward's director of communications and community manager has revealed that the prefix is back. In a Twitter post this afternoon, Robert Bowling announced that he "just received [sic] the first Modern Warfare 2 boxes straight off the press. 'S*** just got real.'" The accompanying photo (pictured) shows the box as bearing the title "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2."
[UPDATE] Activision has now confirmed the change with the following statement:
Infinity Ward's Modern Warfare 2 is the direct sequel to Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. We have focused our attention on Modern Warfare in order to most effectively communicate the fact that this is the first true sequel in the Call of Duty series. Infinity Ward, the original creators of the Call of Duty franchise, has said from the beginning Modern Warfare 2 resides in the Call of Duty universe. This is reflected in the title's package.
The name change's timing comes just a few weeks after a study from tracking firm OTX (cited by GamaSutra) found that the game's awareness level amongst potential buyers dropped 20 percent when it did not have the Call of Duty prefix in the title.
The return of the COD prefix also quashes the widely held belief amongst game-industry watchers that Modern Warfare was being spun off into its own independent franchise. Activision hinted that such a move was in the works when the publisher said that subseries had "taken on a life of its own" three months ago. It also remains unclear if Modern Warfare 2 is the "unique new IP" that Infinity Ward teased when its leading developers renewed their contracts with Activision last summer.