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Sledgehammer Games has grown dramatically during its second decade as one of Activision Blizzard’s major Call of Duty development studios. And now it’s expanding to the UK with a new studio in Guildford, UK
The San Mateo, California-based company is leading the launch of Call of Duty: Vanguard, and it is now in its second decade of operation as one of the major studios on the Call of Duty franchise, selling more than 400 million copies to date. As Call of Duty expands with Warzone, Zombies, premium games, and Call of Duty: Mobile, so do development missions.
And so it’s no surprise to see Sledgehammer Games continue to expand. It started previous studio expansions in Melbourne, Australia in 2019 and Toronto, Canada, in 2021.
As we’ve noted in our stories for a while, it’s an explosive time for Sledgehammer, as it’s part of Activision Blizzard, which the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing sued for gender discrimination and several allegations that support the lawsuit and a difficult culture. for contract employees. Some players have said they plan to boycott Activision Blizzard’s games as a result of the lawsuit, and the parent company has begun removing some Blizzard executives. But some women who work for the company have also said they prefer players to play their games while supporting their cause.
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Sledgehammer said today that it focuses on areas where there is great talent, which is why it chose Guildford.
“Guildford has a long history in video game development, and as a result, there is a lot of first-class talent and an existing game development community there and in the surrounding towns. We are also an easy reverse commute in from London, which has a huge talent pool, ”said Liz Wyle, general manager of Sledgehammer Games Guilford, in a statement.
The new Guildford studio will partner with teams in the Bay Area, Melbourne and Toronto to support Call of Duty: Vanguard’s Live Seasons as well as future projects planned for the coming years.
The studio has openings in art, design, engineering, animation, user interface and user experience, production, sound and more.
“I’m just really excited to bring our study brand to the UK along with the incredible franchise we’re getting work on. It’s another opportunity to do our own small part to grow the industry in a place where there are a large number of talented developers, ”said Andy Wilson, CEO of Sledgehammer, in a statement. “As we have done elsewhere, we will seek to build partnerships with schools and universities to help nurture and grow the next generation of talent. It’s not just about finding people who are already working in the industry, it’s about providing paths for those who want to get in. I remember the scary feeling very well and it makes me happy to give in, especially when we come out of a historic pandemic. “
I have previously written about the history of the company a few times. Sledgehammer began in 2009, founded by former Electronic Arts executives Glen Schofield and Michael Condrey, who worked on the Dead Space franchise at EA’s Visceral Games. They started Sledgehammer in the shadow of EA in San Mateo, California, and began working on a game in the Call of Duty universe. But Activision quickly got Sledgehammer to work on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.
That was because Jason West and Vince Zampella of Infinity Ward had a dispute with Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick over the management of the Call of Duty franchise and the proper payment of royalties. West and Zampella left to start Respawn Entertainment (maker of Titanfall) and took a lot of developers with them. Sledgehammer Games had to help with MW3 as the game only had about 20 months to launch and was in a state of disarray. Infinity Ward had to rebuild, and Sledgehammer took over his role in the rotation alongside Treyarch as one of Activision’s major Call of Duty studios.
Sledgehammer came into the groove as one of three major studios working on three-year Call of Duty projects so that Activision could launch a major Call of Duty game each year. It aired Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare in 2014, and then followed 2017 with Call of Duty: WWII.
Then came Sledgehammer’s own time to undergo upheavals.
In late 2017, Brendan Greene and PUBG Corp. launched. (now part of Krafton) PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds as a Battle Royale game that is free to play. It became extremely popular, as did the Battle Royale game from Epic Games, Fortnite. The management turned around at Sledgehammer, where Schofield and Condrey were first handed over to a new project and eventually left to start their own studies. When Schofield and Condrey staffed their separate businesses, an estimated 100 people out of 300 developers left Sledgehammer to move elsewhere.
And then the rebuilding of Sledgehammer began. In February 2018, Aaron Halon became study leader. And Andy Wilson (no, he is not Andrew Wilson, CEO of rival Electronic Arts) later took over as CEO. Sledgehammer contributed to Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War, but that responsibility was shifted to Treyarch and Raven so Sledgehammer could focus on Vanguard. Fortunately for Activision, the Cold War was a big hit, as was the accompanying free royale battle royale mode Call of Duty: Warzone. Call of Duty: Mobile also took off at the same time.
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