Reports include talk of arguments between Sledgehammer and Raven.
Black Ops 3

There are reported some massive changes happening behind the scenes of the Call of Duty franchise. According to a new report from Jason Schreier of Kotaku, Call of Duty 2020 is no longer being developed by Sledgehammer and Raven. It will instead be handled by Treyarch and it will be another entry in the Black Ops saga.

This is the first major change in the development cycle of the Call of Duty franchise since 2012. Since then, the Call of Duty games have cycled between three lead studios. Those studios are Treyarch, Infinity Ward, and Sledgehammer. This allowed each studio to have a three year development cycle on their next Call of Duty entry. Going by the established cycle, last year's Call of Duty: Black Ops IIII was handled by Treyarch, this year's is still being handled by Infinity Ward, and next year's should have been handled by Sledgehammer.

Activision had initially decided to change things up a bit for the 2020 release of Call of Duty. Instead of Sledgehammer taking the lead, they had given Raven the lead alongside Sledgehammer. The game is, reportedly, supposed to take place during the Cold War and potentially involve Vietnam. Now, Activision has given the 2020 Call of Duty title to Treyarch and it is now supposedly becoming Call of Duty: Black Ops 5.

Why this sudden and drastic change?

According to the report, the big reason for this drastic change in development studios is because of "tension between Sledgehammer and Raven." Apparently, the staff have been arguing quite frequently over the past year of development on Call of Duty 2020. It has been described as "a mess" by Kotaku's sources. Now, Sledgehammer and Raven will serve as support studios for Treyarch's 2020 title.

From the sounds of things, not everything that Raven and Sledgehammer have done will go to waste. Instead, some of the ideas will be folded into Call of Duty: Black Ops 5. Meaning that Black Ops 5's story will be set in the Cold War. Yes, an actual single-player campaign is returning. It is also reportedly going to be a cross-gen release, meaning that it will be on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and whatever the next-generation of consoles are called.

Perhaps more interesting is the additional detail that Activision is considering offering some sort of a free-to-play component for this year's new Call of Duty. This year's Call of Duty is long rumored to be another entry in the Modern Warfare series, which would effectively make it Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 4.

This F2P idea is not yet finalized and is being met with some resistance from some Activision employees. This idea is being kicked around, possibly, as a response to revenues of last year's Black Ops 4 failing to meet Activision's goals.