Activision Blizzard has reportedly delayed the upcoming Call of Duty game that was planned for 2023, which is being developed by Treyarch. According to a report from Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier, the disappointing performance of the 2021 episode, the WW2-themed Call of Duty: Vanguard, has apparently led Activision execs to reconsider Call of Duty’s annualized franchise status.
“The company is pushing off the release after a recent entry in the series failed to meet expectations, leading some executives to believe that they’re introducing new versions too rapidly, said the people, who asked not to be identified because they weren’t authorized to discuss the deliberations,” wrote Schreier. “The decision was not related to Activision’s agreement to sell itself to Microsoft Corp. for $69 billion, the people said.”
Call of Duty skipping 2023 will be a first for the franchise that saw a new major entry being released every year since 2005. In an emailed statement to Bloomberg, an Activision spokesperson explained that new Call of Duty content is still in the pipeline for 2022 and the following years. “We have an exciting slate of premium and free-to-play Call of Duty experiences for this year, next year and beyond. We look forward to sharing more details when the time is right,” the spokesperson said.
Earlier this month, Activision revealed that its 2022 roadmap for Call of Duty includes a sequel to Infinity Ward’s Modern Warfare 2019 episode, as well as a new Warzone experience. Both projects are being developed by Infinity Ward and will use a brand new game engine.
To compensate for next year’s Call of Duty game being delayed, Bloomberg is reporting that this year’s Modern Warfare sequel “will receive a steady stream of additional content.” Additionally, the report mentioned a “new, free-to-play online title” coming next year with support from Treyarch, the same studio working on the now-delayed 2023 Call of Duty game.
Call of Duty remains one of the best-selling video game franchises every year, though keeping the blockbuster series on an annual release schedule may no longer be the right strategy for Activision Blizzard. Warzone, Call of Duty’s free-to-play battle royale mode is slowly but surely becoming the flagship Call of Duty experience, and it’s also bringing a lot of money to the company.
Activision Blizzard continues to operate independently as Microsoft’s acquisition of the company, which is expected to be completed by June 2023, is currently undergoing regulatory scrutiny. Anyway, it’s unlikely that Microsoft is going to interfere with Activision’s roadmap for Call of Duty: The annual franchise probably deserves a break, which would also allow the three different Activision studios working on the franchise to start exploring other things.