Call of Duty veteran David Vonderhaar wants to make a ‘more intimate and relatable’ game, so he named his new studio BulletFarm

Veteran Call of Duty designer David Vonderhaar left Treyarch in 2023 after nearly 20 years at the studio, a stint that took him from Call of Duty 2 all the way through Call of Duty: Black Ops – Cold War. He said at the time that wasn’t ready to talk about what he’d be getting up to next, but now he is: He’s heading up a new NetEase studio called BulletFarm, which is working on “an ambitious new AAA game set in an original universe with an emphasis on co-operative gameplay.”

The announcement doesn’t specify that BulletFarm’s first game is a shooter—in fact, it doesn’t use the word “shooter” at all—but it’s probably a fair assumption. Vonderhaar does have a certain history with that particular genre, after all:

(Image credit: Mobygames)

There’s also the fact that BulletFarm’s creative director is Chris Cowell, himself a veteran of numerous Call of Duty games. And let’s be honest, when you name your studio “BulletFarm,” you’re planting at least one very clear and obvious flag. Expectations are immediately set.

That said, Vonderhaar does seem to be looking to distance himself from the Call of Duty fracas that’s defined his career thus far. BulletFarm’s debut project aims to deliver “a more intimate and relatable experience while offering a fresh take on first-person gameplay,” and Vonderhaar described it as “something entirely new and different” from what he’s worked on in the past:

“This is a departure from the games I’ve worked on, but one that showcases my passion for rich characters, precise mechanics, more intimate storytelling, and plenty of action.”

So, what is it? The BulletFarm website leads with the words “organically hardcore” in very large, all-caps letters, and commits to avoiding battle passes and “annualized releases,” saying its games will be “standalone entertainment designed to be played with your friends.”

In what I assume is an acknowledgement of the current catastrophic state of the videogame industry, the site also says BulletFarm’s games “will be made in a reasonable amount of time and using an appropriate number of developers.”

There are also a couple of promotional images: One of a farm, which seems appropriate, and the other of a small, rustic workshop containing some outdated, but very prominently placed, video equipment.

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(Image credit: BulletFarm)

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(Image credit: BulletFarm)

NetEase has been on quite a roll over the past couple years: Along with Vonderhaar’s BulletFarm, it’s also launched new studios headed up by high-profile industry veterans including former Daybreak Games chief Jack Emmert, Control lead designer Paul Ehreth, former Riot Games VP Greg Street, and Mass Effect writer and creative director Mac Walters.

BulletFarm’s first game will be built in Unreal Engine 5, but there’s no sign of a release target or platforms at this point.

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