So much for Activision Blizzard taking a year off from Call of Duty: It’s widely believed Infinity Ward will run the franchise for the next three years, so fans shouldn’t expect a new installment until 2025. However, Tom Henderson says that Sledgehammer Games is already working on a new Call of Duty game.
Two things stand out from what Henderson said: One, why is Sledgehammer the lead study in this case? It’s no secret that Call of Duty: Vanguard was a low point in sales and audience appeal for the series. Second, is Henderson confirming (again) that a mainline Call of Duty game won’t come out in 2023?
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Henderson’s claims line up with other reports that Activision is moving away from the annual Call of Duty schedule. Additionally, the controversial publisher recently mentioned the shooter’s evolution to an “always-on model,” all but confirming the end of one of gaming’s longest development cycles.
—Tom Henderson (@_Tom_Henderson_) April 12, 2022
Henderson’s latest information helps add weight to his earlier leak that Treyarch will release a free-to-play zombie Call of Duty game in 2023. In this scenario, Activision won’t necessarily put a hold on Call of Duty’s annual release schedule, even if that is. what seems to be happening. Instead, what Activision Blizzard is doing is adding other offerings between the core Call of Duty games. This would make sense after the success of 2020’s Call of Duty: Warzone.
Since then, the free-to-play live shooter has become an integral part of the company’s revenue stream and is set to play a much bigger role with the launch of Warzone Mobile and Warzone 2. It’s hard not to, though. think about how Activision Blizzard’s plans are contradictory.
I would assume that not releasing a new Call of Duty game every year would mean that studios will support current titles for longer. Not to mention, Henderson alleges that Activision Blizzard thinks series fatigue is starting to set in, which is why it’s ending the cycle.
With multiple Call of Duty variants in the works, players will really start to see more of the game and not less. Perhaps we can all cross that bridge once we get there, but for now, the most pressing matter is the appointment of Sledgehammer Games. The team isn’t lacking in talent, but Vanguard isn’t their first entry to mixed reception from critics and fans.
It wasn’t too long ago that Sledgehammer had to take a year off after 2017’s WWII, as Treyarch worked on 2018’s Black Ops 4 and 2020’s Black Ops – Cold War. Although Vanguard still sold relatively well, the fact that Activision supposedly had to think twice about the future of the series after Vanguard implies that the company is shifting its focus on the free-to-play and live-service variants of the franchise with “minor” studios working on the main fees.
If this is the case, fans of Call of Duty single-player campaigns should be concerned. The most recent single player campaigns are widely regarded as a solid return to form for Call of Duty. Making them less of a priority by giving them Sledgehammer keys (the studio has the weaker track record compared to Treyarch and Infinity Ward) feels like a step in the wrong direction.
In other news, Activision is facing another sexual harassment lawsuit. Additionally, a recent job listing sighting is also sparking rumors that Call of Duty will be getting a subscription service with a leaker claiming NFTs are heading to the best-selling franchise.