In 1990, two brothers with an Amiga and a love for creating games founded Raven Software in Madison, Wisconsin. Thirty years later, what initially started as a five-employee strong studio now is a premiere development studio with hundreds of team members and is a major contributor to the Call of Duty® franchise, most recently teaming with Infinity Ward to develop Call of Duty: Warzone.
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Thomas Wilson, Co-Studio Head, Beenox
“We had everything to prove and there’s nothing I like more than a good challenge,” Wilson said. “Recruiting experienced individuals proved to be a challenge back in 2005, so we turned to schools and hired what we considered the be most promising candidates of each program. In two years’ time, we shipped our first original title (published by Activision) with a team of young, talented and passionate game developers.”
In December 2012, Wilson stepped into the role of co-studio head, helping to lead Beenox toward collaborative efforts with fellow studios Toys for Bob and Vicarious Visions on the Skylanders series. Meanwhile Nour Polloni started a year prior as a Senior Producer.
“The speed in which the team adapted to this new universe, the passion that was invested in each aspect of the game, the deep commitment to quality and respect to the license was inspiring,” Polloni said. “The teamwork and mutual support between team members to accomplish our goals, not just within Beenox, but also with our partner studio, confirmed to me even more that Beenox is an incredible studio to be part of.”
This versatility brought them to assist with another franchise starting in 2015: Call of Duty. Their efforts began initially with a Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 port to previous-gen consoles, which then led to a collaboration with Raven Software to develop Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered in 2016.
In 2018, Beenox would emerge as the franchise’s official PC studio starting with Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, working closely with Treyarch, where they also provided development support for some of the game’s Multiplayer content.
Release Date: October 25, 2019
Infinity Ward rebooted Modern Warfare in 2019, retelling the story of how Task Force 141 — Price, Ghost, Gaz and Soap — formed with the help of CIA hero Alex Keller and ULB leader Farah Karim.
This game featured a new version of the Call of Duty engine, which allowed for a total visual overhaul through processes such as photogrammetry and ray-tracing. That immersed players in a Campaign that included “Clean House,” where they aimed for the “Golden Path” achievement by clearing the level without being hit and not wasting a single bullet.
The story then continued in Special Ops, a four-player co-op mode featuring multi-objective Operations as well as “Classic” experiences, similar to the original Special Ops.
Meanwhile in Multiplayer, Operators, playable characters with dedicated biographies and alternate attires in “Skins,” were made. Gunfight became the 2v2 random Loadout proving ground for duos on new maps like Speedball, Stadium, King, Docks, Gulag Showers, as well as returning classics like Rust and Shipment. There were also new household-name Core maps like Gun Runner, Hackney Yard, Khandor Hideout, and, of course, Shoot House.
And in Ground War, it saw an expansion to 32v32 players, which is more players than any other Ground War Multiplayer map has hosted up to this point.
Field Upgrades were also formally introduced, and the Gunsmith was open for serious weapon customization, including Weapon Blueprints, which are special cosmetic variants of base weapons. The Gunsmith is where you can add attachments alongside a slew of cosmetic options in Stickers, Reticles (only with Optic attachments), Charms, and Camos, including the classic completionist camos Gold and Platinum along with gorgeous newcomers in Damascus and Obsidian.
Modern Warfare was also a massive moment for Call of Duty in general: It introduced the Battle Pass, cross-platform play and progression; free post-launch content like maps, modes, and functional weapons; and the inaugural season of the Call of Duty League for competitive players.
And, of course, ushering in Call of Duty: Warzone, a franchise-changing, free-to-play, free-for-everyone massive online experience — one that broke franchise records: remember when over 100 million players — and 125+ million players in just over a year — were a part of the first iteration of Call of Duty: Warzone?
Call of Duty: Warzone featured the fan favorite “big map” known as Verdansk and its many infamous points of interest (drop into Superstore, anyone?), redefined the Battle Royale experience, and featured many a guest Operator appearance along with a host of memorable events, from the opening of the Stadium to the fun and frights of The Haunting, as well as an all-out Zombie invasion and the return to an earlier version of the map once Verdansk ’84 arrived during Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War.
This was also a defining moment for Raven Software, which after years of developing their own games and supporting Call of Duty releases since Black Ops, collaborated with Infinity Ward to create and update this experience, and to this day helps spearhead Call of Duty: Warzone development.
Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War (2020)