Exclusive: Call of Duty devs reveal Shipment’s genesis was “truly an accident”

Brad Norton
Call of Duty Shipment mapActivision

Shipment, one of the Call of Duty series’ most iconic maps, was “truly an accident,” devs told Dexerto in a recent interview, as they simply “forgot” to remove it from the launch build before Modern Warfare launched around the globe.

When it comes to the most popular maps in CoD history, everyone has their favorites. Whether it’s Strike or Slums for the competitive fans, Highrise or Terminal for the quickscopers at heart, or Nuketown for the more casual crowd, we all have our go-to picks. But there’s no denying Shipment is often the first to spring to mind for many veterans in the community.

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Since its debut in 2007’s Modern Warfare (the first one), it’s been among the most important maps in the franchise. Along with Rust in the years following, it arguably became the hottest spot for 1v1s. If feuds ever needed to be settled, this dreary, minuscule layout is where you’d go to war.

Though it turns out, developers at Infinity Ward never actually planned for Shipment to be this popular. In fact, the now-fan-favorite map wasn’t even supposed to see the light of day, at least not in its existing form. As Multiplayer Design Director Geoff Smith told us in a recent conversation, Shipment was “truly an accident.”

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CoD Shipment map gameplayActivision
Private match ready, Shipment loaded, red dots on the radar, blissful CoD memories in the making.

Shipment was never meant to be Modern Warfare’s most iconic map

As our recent interview was winding down, we pushed two senior multiplayer devs to name their own favorite maps spanning the past two decades. Joking it was simply “too personal a question,” Smith instead delved into the backstory of one particular map many would put forward as their personal favorite: Shipment.

“There’s little happy experiments. Things that worked out, things that didn’t work out for whatever reason. I think the bane of my existence is Shipment.”

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Originally, Shipment was designed purely as a “split-screen map, back when that was a thing,” Smith revealed. The smaller plot of land, the simpler geometry, the more basic layout, all of it was purpose-built to accommodate players as their old TV screens were sliced in half.

During Modern Warfare’s development, however, devs used this playspace for some internal tests and thus, it found its way onto the game’s broader “playlist script.” From there, it was simply never removed.

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“Our MP lead at the time, when we went live, forgot to [pull] it out and there was no going back. That was truly an accident.”

CoD Shipment gameplayActivision
Shipment has made multiple appearances in the CoD franchise since its 2007 debut.

Modern Warfare hit store shelves in 2007 with one more map than what Infinity Ward originally planned. Had devs remembered to double-check the playlist script at the final hour, there’s no telling what may have become of Shipment. Perhaps it would’ve struck a chord with the select few enjoying split-screen, but there’s every chance it could’ve ended up as another CoD map lost to time.

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16 years on and with five other appearances in mainline CoD titles since, it has no doubt blossomed into one of CoD’s most popular battlegrounds ever. A happy accident if ever there was one.

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About The Author

Brad Norton is the Australian Managing Editor at Dexerto. He graduated from Swinburne University with a Bachelor’s degree in journalism and has been working full-time in the field for the past six years at the likes of Gamurs Group and now Dexerto. He loves all things single-player gaming (with Uncharted a personal favorite) but has a history on the competitive side having previously run Oceanic esports org Mindfreak. You can contact Brad at brad.norton@dexerto.com