Axed CoD Zombies game would have been ‘fun, campy & experimental’, says ex-dev

Axed CoD Zombies game would have been ‘fun, campy & experimental’, says ex-dev
Image via Activision

Written by 

Jack Marsh


8th Apr 2024 16:06

Fans have long been yearning for a standalone Zombies game set in the world of Call of Duty, with so many years of on-and-off content drops leading to a need for consistency.

Salt was only rubbed into fans' wounds this year as it was revealed that such a game did once exist and was scrapped before its release, although the details surrounding the title were barren.

However, the developers of the project codenamed "Zed" have now opened up in an interview with Zombies guru "Glitching Queen" about how the live-service model was actually going to work.

Former Call of Duty Dev details scrapped live-service Zombies mode

Michael Gummelt, seen in Glitching Queen's interview, is a bit of an FPS mogul, having done engine experience on Doom, Quake, and Call of Duty, the latter of which saw him work at Raven Software for the better part of 25 years.

Gummelt's LinkedIn recently went viral though, as he listed that he worked on an "unreleased Call of Duty: Zombies live-service game", claiming that Treyarch put a stop to it because they wanted their Zombies IP back.

In the interview though, Gummelt has now opened up on what the title would have been like.

"Project Zed combines the best of Call of Duty: Zombies with the addictive replayability of Call of Duty Multiplayer," read Gummelt's product statement, provided before getting into the nitty-gritty.

The former CoD dev then went on to say that the title was developed between 2011 and 2012 and was set to be a full live-service model, with CoD: Online (the Chinese game for which Gummelt designed the Zombies/Cyborgs modes for) being an influence for the microtransaction and revenue streams.

The title was not necessarily set to be a port of old maps, but rather an "expansion and evolution" on what the existing Zombies experience was like, favouring a "fun, campy & experimental" and replayability over realism.

CoD's Zombies game would have featured open-world maps, gladiators, and round-based arenas

Click to enlarge

As to how the game would have played out, Gummelt told Glitching Queen that players would first start as a gladiator in an arena with waves of Zombies being sent in, but you soon escape into an open-world setting where you would have to progress to new arenas and continue trying to beat high scores and build up your chest of rewards.

"It was like Mad Max meets Zombies, in a way," he said.

Gummelt said that the prototypes were heavily based on what they had done in CoD Online before, but Activision pulled the plug before the physical game was formed. 

"I never got a definite 'yeah they want it back and you guys can't do it anymore,' but that was the impression that I got," Gummelt added, explaining why it was shut down.

"It was more like '[Treyarch] are going to do zombies again and they don't want that competing with each other, which is unfortunate."

He continued to say that between Black Ops 1 and 2, Treyarch didn't know whether they wanted to continue Zombies, but they soon settled on continuing the game mode; if Raven Software's live-service title did come out, we would never have had the Zombies maps in Black Ops 3 and 4, including the iconic Der Eisendrache, Shadows of Evil, and Blood of the Dead.

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According to the developer, there was never a renewed interest in a live-service game, meaning any hopes of another one might be long gone.

Jack Marsh
About the author
Jack Marsh
Jack is an Esports Journalist at GGRecon. Graduating from the University of Chester, with a BA Honours degree in Journalism, Jack is an avid esports enthusiast and specialises in Rocket League, Call of Duty, VALORANT, and trending gaming news.
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