Action-adventure Call of Duty next year, Activision establishes dedicated business unit for the franchise

Big changes are in store for Call of Duty; Activision has announced that they will form a dedicated business unit for the franchise — to be lead by Activision Publishing’s current Asia Pacific region boss Philip Earl — and are expanding it into new genres, geographies and digital business models.

The first new genre the series will jump to is action-adventure. As previously speculated, the yet-to-be-named game will be developed by Activision’s recently-formed Sledgehammer Games studio, headed by former Dead Space developer Visceral Games bosses Glen Schofield and Michael Condrey, and is set for a 2011 release.

Activision has plans to take the series to Asia as well. To that end, they’re currently in discussions with “a select number of partners”.

The publishing giant also confirmed that, as reported earlier, CEO Vince Zampella and president Jason West are no longer employed at Infinity Ward. Filling their positions on an interim basis will be Activision Publishing chief technology officer Steve Pearce and head of production Steve Ackrich.

As for Infinity Ward as a studio; beyond creating downloadable content for Modern Warfare 2, its future remains foggy for now. However, an internal memo obtained by G4, written by Activision Publishing president and CEO Mike Griffith, states that the studio will remain “central to Call of Duty‘s future”.

“… we rely on the combined talent, expertise and leadership of the team there for its success,” Griffith wrote.