Source: A Kotaku article citing a source close to Raven Software reports that the studio has stopped development on two future projects in order to work on a Call of Duty game instead.
What we heard: Call of Duty is a big part of Activision's business. So big in fact that in the publisher's recent restructuring, it dedicated one of its four business divisions to making new installments and spin-offs of the military shooter series. Three of Activision's highest profile internal studios are currently working on the franchise: Infinity Ward (Modern Warfare 3), Treyarch (Black Ops), and the newly formed Sledgehammer Games (unnamed adventure game).
With a trio of top-tier installments en route an an Asian-developed massively multiplayer online game also in the works, the need for more Call of Duty games might seem unnecessary. However, when it comes to making new installments of a phenomenally successful franchise, Activision isn't known for restraint. One only has to look back to 2009, when the publisher released seven distinct Guitar Hero games even though the rhythm genre was imploding.
If Activision needed a studio to pick up a hit first-person shooter franchise without missing a beat, Raven is well suited to the task. The developer has previously offered its own take on established shooter series with last year's Wolfenstein, 2005's Quake 4, and 2002's Star Wars Jedi Knight II, and it has an original body of work in the genre that boasts games like Soldier of Fortune and the forthcoming Singularity.
The Kotaku article reports that in order to make room for the Call of Duty project on Raven's schedule, two of its future projects were put on hold. The games in question were said to be a James Bond title and an X-Men game. If Raven had been working on a 007 game intended to tie into a new Bond movie, that project could very easily have been postponed. Production on the next film has been suspended indefinitely in light of financial turmoil surrounding its distributor, Metro Goldwyn-Mayer. Activision is also already rumored to have a non-cross-promoted, driving-focused James Bond game in the works in the works at Bizarre Creations, with a recent retail listing dubbing it Bloodstone.
As for the X-Men, the last time Activision worked specifically with Marvel's mutant team was for last year's Raven-developed X-Men Origins: Wolverine film tie-in. Given the wealth of X-Men film projects in various stages of development (a sequel to Wolverine, Deadpool, and Magneto spin-offs, as well as a prequel called X-Men: First Class), there would seem to be little need for Activision to create a game without a film tie-in. However, movie-based games are often developed on short timelines, and publishers almost always plan to launch them alongside their on-screen inspiration for maximum synergy. However, the Wolverine, Deadpool, and X-Men: First Class films are are all only in the early stages of preproduction, meaning their game tie-ins could be temporarily shelved if something more pressing came along.
The official story: A representative with the publisher told GameSpot, "Activision does not comment on rumor and speculation."
Bogus or not bogus?: [UPDATE] Looking not bogus. Further reports now point to Raven working on a downloadable content pack for Treyarch's Call of Duty: Black Ops, due out later this year. With Activision reaping record profits from the first Modern Warfare 2 map pack--and just announcing a second round of DLC for the game--it seems likely the publisher could easily put aside other projects in order to quickly cash in on the upcoming title.