Infinity Ward was actively working on a sci-fi shooter designed to “kill” Halo before the studio hit big with Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.
During an interview with GameInformer, studio art director Joel Emslie revealed the studio divided the development team after Call of Duty 2, with one half developing a space-shooter to best Microsoft’s Halo games:
“It was a moment where we really wanted to take down Halo really bad, and we wanted to create a Halo killer. Part of the studio went off and was working on another game to do that.”
However, the studio soon recognised that dividing the team created a new problem by throwing its creativity off balance, so the studio decided to unify to only work on Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.
“When you had components missing, it threw the whole thing off balance, and that’s why it was realized pretty quickly, thank God, and they brought everybody back together, and then we dug into Modern Warfare,” Emslie said.
Infinity Ward’s decision was perhaps one of the best in its history as the studio produced Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare which was a resounding success and outsold Halo 3.
Furthermore, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was the catalyst that kicked off the studio’s focus into the modern warfare genre; allowing for future games to fully exploit this niche in a way that no other studio has matched.
The “Halo killer” prototype was buried and is incredibly unlikely to see the light of day. In 2017, Infinity Ward did release its first full sci-fi game with Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, but the developers said it did not borrow any ideas from the prototype.