Activision Blizzard has announced the formation of a new internal studio, Beachhead, which is to focus on creation of an “all-new digital platform” for the all-conquering Call Of Duty series.
Speaking during an earnings call after publication of its latest financial results, Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg said: “We’re pleased to announce our new wholly-owned development studio, Beachhead, which will lead the creation of our all-new digital platform for the Call Of Duty franchise.
“Beachhead will create a best-in-class online community, exclusive content and a suite of services for our Call Of Duty fans to supercharge the online gaming experience like never before.”
Activision has been rumoured to have been preparing a subscription-based service as it seeks to leverage Blizzard’s MMOG experience and the enormous popularity of the Call Of Duty series’ online modes. We first reported on the possibility in November 2009, when CFO Thomas Tippl said: “It's definitely an aspiration that we see potential in, particularly as we look at different business models to monetise the online gameplay.”
Last June CEO Bobby Kotick said he would “have Call Of Duty be an online subscription service tomorrow” if given the opportunity, adding: “I think our audiences are clamouring for it.”
During yesterday’s earnings call Kotick added: “We have also leveraged our internal platforms to offer audiences choice and convenience through the provision of direct distribution of Blizzard games. We expect to enhance the Call of Duty experience in similar ways with our new digital platform from Beachhead.”
Activision also confirmed that a free-to-play online Call Of Duty aimed at the “exploding” Chinese market is set for release in 2012. Meanwhile the first Black Ops map pack, First Strike, will be released for PlayStation 3 on March 3. It launched for Xbox 360 on February 1 because Microsoft and Activision have a timed exclusivity deal on all Call Of Duty DLC that runs until 2012.
Beachhead will be the fifth studio involved in production of the franchise. Infinity Ward made Call Of Duty 2, 4 and Modern Warfare 2, and is currently at work on Modern Warfare 3. Rumours last month suggested Raven Software and Sledgehammer Games have been drafted in to ensure the game meets its planned November release date.
Raven has also been tasked with creating map packs for the Treyarch-developed Black Ops, and Sledgehammer is reportedly working on an action-adventure Call Of Duty title, rumoured for release this year.