Raven Software’s cancelled Call of Duty zombies game featured a Mad Max-style gladiator arena

By admin Apr8,2024

A couple of months ago, we learned that Raven Software lead designer Michael Gummelt had worked on a live service Call Of Duty zombies game before it got cancelled. Details were practically non-existent at the time, but YouTuber Glitching Queen recently interviewed Gummelt about what the game could’ve become. Fun surprises: It would’ve been a free-to-play live service game featuring coliseum battles. Unsurprises: microtransactions, seasons, general background shenanigans between Treyarch and Raven.

Watch on YouTube

In the interview – I’ve embedded it above, the first half focuses on Gummelt’s stint on COD Online, the second half begins at around 12:54 which is what we’re interested in – Gummelt expands on what the project could’ve been. He talks of up to four players starting off as gladiators in a Mad Max-esque arena, where folks have you caged for entertainment during the zombie apocalypse. Eventually you’d “stage an escape” then explore an open world where you’d “go to other places, fight zombies, get rewards, stuff like that”. The original design doc pitch was a “fun, campy, experimental” experience that would have kept Call of Duty Zombies mode’s historically goofy tone, with seasonal theme switches.

Rounding off the interview, Gummelt mentions Treyarch wanting zombies back from Raven Software, having given them the IP during what seemed to be an internal transition period as previous zombies lead Jimmy Zielinski was replaced by Jason Blundell “during or before Black Ops 2”. While he’s not absolutely certain, he got the sense that Treyarch were thinking of doing zombies again and wanted the IP back because they didn’t want competition. In a positive spin, he does say that we wouldn’t have gotten “Black Ops 2, and 3 and 4 zombies” otherwise, which I’d argue are fairly good hangs, if a touch overcomplicated at times.

My thoughts on this live service zombies game still stand from my previous post, which are basically: cancelling video games that people work very hard on is something I dislike, but a live service zombies game exhausts me. I’d prefer to play the game in bursts with pals and I don’t think slaughtering zombies to earn tokens on a battle pass would fill me with joy.

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