Call of Duty: Warzone is rapidly becoming a bigger part of Activision's business. As a free-to-play battle royale game with over 80 million players when last we checked, it's easily the biggest Call of Duty thing going on right now, and that's including the newer Black Ops - Cold War. In its first year it seemed clear that Infinity Ward was leading development, but the Modern Warfare studio has gone completely silent about the game in the past month.
Which begs the question: Who exactly is flying the plane at Warzone HQ?
Weirdly enough, Activision doesn't seem interested in confirming that. When asked which studio (or studios) is currently leading development of Warzone, a PR representative simply told me that Infinity Ward and Raven Software developed the game. The short response didn't answer the question of who is currently leading development 10 months after its launch, but signs do point toward Raven Software taking up the Warzone mantle.
Since the start of Black Ops - Cold War Season 1 in December, Raven (a CoD support studio that also made Cold War's campaign) has become the face of Warzone's ongoing updates. Official patch information and cosmetic announcements alike are now appearing on Raven's official Twitter account while Infinity Ward keeps quiet. So, does that mean Raven is calling the shots now? Or is it only issuing balancing updates while Infinity Ward works on larger updates, like the rumored new map? And why does it even matter?
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Why it matters
First, it's really weird (and a little annoying) that Activision hasn't been open about the ongoing development of its biggest game. Warzone has a massive audience of dedicated fans who are hyperattentive to balance changes. Communication is a huge part of that, so it was jarring to see Raven become the new voice of Warzone at the end of 2020 without so much as a mention. If the millions of people keeping up with the game now have to read about the latest patch notes elsewhere, Activision should probably clarify that.
Speaking of patch notes, Raven apparently leading development could also mean that Warzone's meta could look very different in the future. The past year of Infinity Ward updates has maintained a meta in which one or two guns are always overperforming or completely broken. Raven's vision for the game is still a mystery. Its efforts the past few weeks to squash the DMR 14 meta are encouraging, but time will tell if Warzone's biggest problems will be addressed in 2021. Cheaters are still running rampant and balance-wrecking exploits have become commonplace.
If Raven is the Warzone studio now, it also prompts speculation about what Infinity Ward is up to. Considering the success of Modern Warfare, I'd bet work is underway on a proper followup. Keeping its future project a secret could also explain why Activision won't plainly say if Infinity Ward has stepped aside with Warzone. In any case, a theoretical Modern Warfare sequel is likely still a year or two away.
Raven, in retrospect
To be clear, Raven is a good studio and I think the game is in capable hands, if they do in fact own the project. Before it shifted focus to Call of Duty, Raven was responsible for other memorable FPSes. Here's a brief history of what the studio has been up to in the last 15 years.
- 2020 Call of Duty: Black Ops - Cold War: Lead developer on the campaign, which we mostly liked.
- 2019-2010 Assisted with every Call of Duty between 2019 and 2010
- 2010 Singularity: An underrated singleplayer FPS about rapidly aging and de-aging the world around you.
- 2009 Wolfenstein: The official precursor to Bethesda's modern Wolfenstein series. Over-the-top enemies (lady SS dominatrices with energy whips) and ludicrous guns made it memorable.
- 2009 X-Men Origins: Wolverine: The rare movie tie-in game that's better than the movie it was made to sell.
- 2006 Marvel: Ultimate Alliance: A co-op RPG that brought the Avengers together long before the MCU.
Where to keep up with Warzone in 2021
Raven Software's official Twitter
Raven's official account has been issuing Warzone updates for the past month, so for now it seems like the best way to get your updates straight from the source.
The official Call of Duty Twitter
Mostly focused on Black Ops - Cold War (and probably whatever 2021's CoD is going to be), but retweets Warzone news and occasionally mentions new stuff added to the game.
The Call of Duty blog
Call of Duty's catch-all blog usually has dedicated news posts for new cosmetic bundles, but it's hit-or-miss for patch notes. Recently, Raven has been dropping rough details on Twitter without documenting them on the blog at all.
Here, of course!
Activision is making Warzone fandom harder than it needs to be, but luckily for you, it's basically my job to uncomplicate it. If you're following us on Twitter or checking our Warzone tag regularly, you'll stay up-to-date and then some.