Sledgehammer Games studio head Aaron Halon claims that working on Modern Warfare III was a "labor of love" after Bloomberg reported the critically panned shooter was made in around 16 months.
Sources told Bloomberg that Modern Warfare III was initially pitched as an expansion but eventually morphed into a mainline released to fill a hole in Activision Blizzard's release schedule, itself caused by the delay of another Call of Duty title.
Activision Blizzard has multiple studios working on its blockbuster franchise, which has become one of the most lucrative products in the publisher's arsenal.
Over a dozen current and former Call of Duty developers told Bloomberg the plan for Modern Warfare III was ambiguous at best during the initial stages of development, while others claim to have been told outright the project would be an expansion.
They explained those shifting production goalposts required some employees to work nights and weekends in order to finish the title, with timeframes being compressed to ensure Modern Warfare III would hit shelves in 2023.
The game's campaign mode was reportedly completed in around 16 months, despite inefficiencies caused by the need to run content past execs at Infinity Ward—the Activision Blizzard studio that usually oversees the Modern Warfare series—and then incorporate feedback.
Those who spoke with Bloomberg said a number of Sledgehammer workers felt the studio had betrayed their trust after previously promising they wouldn't have to endure another shortened development cycle, as was the case on Call of Duty: Vanguard.
Sledgehammer says Modern Warfare III production is the "first true sequel" in the franchise's history
In a statement posted on X, formerly Twitter, just hours after Bloomberg published its report, Sledgehammer said it's "incredibly proud" of Modern Warfare III and claimed that working on the "first ever back-to-back sequel" in Call of Duty history was a labor of love.
"We're incredibly proud of Modern Warfare III—both the full game experience at launch and the upcoming year of content we have planned for the community. 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. We cannot wait to see our community's reaction to all that the entire game has to offer, across Campaign, Multiplayer and Zombies," wrote studio head Aaron Halon.
Halon refuted the idea that Modern Warfare III wasn't initially envisioned as a full-blown sequel, claiming that was the plan "long before we wrapped up our previous game."
"From the start of development, we have all been laser focused on creating the next groundbreaking Call of Duty game," he continued. "And that's what we've delivered—the first true sequel in franchise history. It is also why we added features like Carry Forward for the first time to honor the investment our players have made in the Modern Warfare series.
"We're proud to be the team to lead the way on Modern Warfare III. We have worked hard to deliver on this vision which has been years in the making. Anything said to the contrary is simply not true—this is our game and we cannot wait to play it online with all of you."
Call of Duty will now be moving forward under the watchful eye of Microsoft after the Xbox maker completed its mammoth $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard.