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Activision outlines Call of Duty reshuffle

Sledgehammer Games to create new "action-adventure" title; Infinity Ward under new leadership

Activision Blizzard has moved swiftly to counter any investor concern over the recent Infinity Ward executive departures of Jason West and Vince Zampella by announcing a reshuffle of the Call of Duty franchise.

Under plans announced today, while Infinity Ward will continue to work on the downloadable content for Modern Warfare 2, Treyarch will add this year's wholly new title and an additional CoD game has been confirmed for 2011.

However, while it's not clear if that game will be an Infinity Ward title, is has been announced that Sledgehammer Games - a studio formed last November by ex-Visceral studio head Glen Schofield and Dead Space executive producer Michael Condrey - "is in development on a Call of Duty game that will extend the franchise into the action-adventure genre," according to a statement.

Meanwhile Activision is forming a dedicated business unit to bring further focus on the multi-billion-dollar franchise, to be led by Philip Earl - currently the company's head of publishing in Asia-Pacific.

And Infinity Ward will be led by Activision's CTO Steve Pearce and head of production Steve Ackrich on an interim basis as it is confirmed that West and Zampella are "no longer with the company" - although no further details have been given.

"2010 will be another important year for the Call of Duty franchise," commented Mike Griffith, president and CEO of Activision Publishing. "In addition to continued catalogue sales, new downloadable content from Infinity Ward and a new Call of Duty release, we are excited about the opportunity to bring the franchise to new geographies, genres and players."

Regarding "new geographies," the statement also revealed that the company was "in discussions with a select number of partners to bring the franchise to Asia, one of the fastest growing regions for online multiplayer games in the world," as it looks to build Call of Duty into a truly global IP.

The news, announced after the markets on the US East Coast had closed, followed a 1.2 per cent decline in company stock value to $10.81 - but after hours trading saw that rebound in the half hour after the statement was released.

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