Call of Duty: World at War's Zombie mode was almost canceled

Cod Zombies

A still from Lamia's talk, via DICE's official stream.

official stream

Treyarch studio head Mark Lamia almost canceled Call of Duty: World at War's zombie mode, which was easily one of the best recent additions to the series.

Work on zombies was initially started by a "creatively restless" team, said Lamia during his DICE talk this morning. The work was "unapproved, unplanned, and unscheduled," and "clearly off brand," but when Lamia was called to cancel the mode and direct the development team to finish the game as planned, he chose not to. The team was enjoying the mode so much, he said, that work on it continued even though they were behind schedule.

Even after Lamia made the case to go ahead with the mode, Activision apparently wasn't convinced enough to market Zombies, which is why it went out quietly as an unlockable. That decision, said Lamia, allowed fans to discover it and share it and "make it their own."

Lamia concluded with the thought that "Zombies taught Treyarch that it's OK to touch the butterfly's wings," referring to the risk of tinkering with a series as established as CoD. "Just don't do it with sticky fingers," he said.

Tyler Wilde
Executive Editor

Tyler grew up in Silicon Valley during the '80s and '90s, playing games like Zork and Arkanoid on early PCs. He was later captivated by Myst, SimCity, Civilization, Command & Conquer, all the shooters they call "boomer shooters" now, and PS1 classic Bushido Blade (that's right: he had Bleem!). Tyler joined PC Gamer in 2011, and today he's focused on the site's news coverage. His hobbies include amateur boxing and adding to his 1,200-plus hours in Rocket League.