New Report Reveals that Modern Warfare 3 Development Time Was Half That of a Normal Call of Duty
Sledgehammer Games reportedly pitched Call of Duty Advanced Warfare 2, its follow-up to 2014's Advanced Warfare, only for it to be shelved in order to create Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. This reportedly led to heavy development crunch within the studio.
According to Bloomberg, Sledgehammer Games had to make Modern Warfare 3 in a year-and-a-half rather than the typical three-year development cycle. The development of Modern Warfare 3 was reportedly rushed because of another Call of Duty that was delayed out of the 2023 release window.
Previous reports revealed that Modern Warfare 3 was originally conceived as an expansion to Modern Warfare 2, but that Activision decided to make it into a full sequel. It initially was supposed to take place in Mexico, but the finished version fully rebooted the story and instead featured the villain Vladimir Makarov. Sledgehammer studio head Aaron Halon took to social media to say that the game was conceived as a premium game from the beginning.
“On behalf of the extremely talented team across Sledgehammer Games and our partner studios with whom we’ve collaborated on development, this has been a labor of love to lead the first ever back-to-back sequel in Call of Duty,” Hanlon explained.
Call of Duty's first "true sequel"
Modern Warfare 3 allows players to carry forward their operators and skins from Modern Warfare 2, which in a sense makes the game the franchise’s first “true” sequel. Unfortunately, former and current employees reportedly were under the impression that it was an expansion at first until much later in development.
As a result, the studio reportedly had to work nights and weekends to finish the game. There were also pipeline inefficiencies as Sledgehammer had to check in with Infinity Ward, the studio who usually handles the Modern Warfare games for feedback. Additionally, they reportedly felt betrayed as they experienced a similar short development cycle with Call of Duty: Vanguard, and the company promised that it wouldn’t happen again.
Furthermore, Sledgehammer pitched a follow-up to 2014’s futuristic Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, codenamed Anvil. However, it was put aside so that the studio would work on another Modern Warfare game that would include the popular zombies mode, multiplayer maps, and a single-player campaign.
Modern Warfare 3’s campaign has been critically panned. In IGN's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 review, we said, “Underbaked, rehashed, and cobbled together from multiplayer parts, Modern Warfare 3’s single-player campaign is everything a Call of Duty story mode shouldn’t be.”
Modern Warfare 3 releases on November 10 for PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X|S.
George Yang is a freelance writer for IGN. He's been writing about the industry since 2019 and has worked with other publications such as Insider, Kotaku, NPR, and Variety.
When not writing about video games, George is playing video games. What a surprise! You can follow him on Twitter @Yinyangfooey