Call of Duty loses one of its best-known and most veteran designers, Mr. Black Ops himself

Call of Duty loses one of its best-known and most veteran designers, Mr. Black Ops himself

Longtime Call of Duty lead David Vonderhaar, best known as the studio design director behind the entire Black Ops franchise, is leaving Activision and Treyarch altogether. 

CharlieIntel flagged a LinkedIn post from Vonderhaar earlier today. After 18 years spent making eight Call of Duty games, Vonderhaar says he’s leaving the franchise and its owners to move onto “an undisclosed project” in the games industry. 

“Thank you to the Call of Duty community for your passion and enthusiasm,” Vonderhaar’s post reads. “That energy has often fueled our determination as a studio and individuals. I will always be grateful for the opportunity to interact with so many of you directly online and in person. This energy is always a massive part of me.”

Vonderhaar is known for heading the Black Ops franchise, but his history with Call of Duty goes back to Call of Duty 2: Big Red One. He also worked on Call of Duty 3 and World at War before climbing aboard the Black Ops ship for four games, with a break for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare in the middle. The last title he touched was Call of Duty: Warzone.

Treyarch put out a statement acknowledging Vonderhaar’s departure and his contributions to Call of Duty: “Farewell to the legendary David Vonderhaar, whose discipline, creativity and innovation helped shape our games from COD 2: Big Red One to Black Ops Cold War. His iconic phrases and groundbreaking ideas will be missed. Excited for your next adventure.”

The replies to Treyarch’s post go to show just how well-known Vonderhaar has become, and how beloved the Black Ops franchise still is. Call of Duty games are made by massive development teams, but in the eyes of many, Vonderhaar is Mr. Black Ops. I’ve been scrolling for a while, and I couldn’t count the replies saying something to the tune of “the absolute GOAT.” I was also particularly struck by this comment, which demonstrates a rare degree of reverence: “Man patched the DSR but still love him.” 

The next Call of Duty, Modern Warfare 3, is undoing some controversial changes made in Modern Warfare 2. 

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