When news broke that Microsoft would acquire Activision Blizzard in a $68.7 billion deal, fans of the Call of Duty series began theorizing that Sledgehammer Games and other Call of Duty studios might abandon the series to work on other games. Although this may be a possibility once Microsoft acquires the publisher, it is not currently the plan.
Sources said Sledgehammer Games has already begun pre-production of its upcoming Call of Duty title. But no details of the match were given due to uncertainty about what the final match would entail.
Writer Sam Maggs has suggested in the past that the title could be a sequel to Call of Duty: Vanguard, saying at New York Comic-Con in 2021 (via VGC) “We have two more stories we really want to tell with these characters.” Sledgehammer Games’ ambitions may not come true. in the making of a sequel, with Call of Duty: Vanguard failing to meet Activision’s expectations.
Bloomberg first reported that Call of Duty won’t be releasing a premium title in 2023, because the publisher believes premium Call of Duty titles could be released too quickly, which was a reason for poor Vanguard sales. However, news published by Bloomberg has neither confirmed nor denied that Call of Duty will be away from annual releases indefinitely. Even if those plans are the case, the decision can be reversed once the acquisition by Microsoft is completed.
Following the Bloomberg report, an Activision spokesperson said, “We have an exciting list of premium and free Call of Duty experiences for this year, next year and beyond. Reports of anything otherwise are incorrect. We look forward to sharing more details when the time comes.”
These comments likely refer to a couple of free Call of Duty projects in development. Call of Duty: Warzone mobile launches later this year, with Warzone 2 set to launch in 2023.
To fill the void that the iconic Call of Duty title will not be released in 2023, it appears that Activision is also planning to release a third Call of Duty project within two years. No details on the project have been officially released, but one potential title could be the indie Call of Duty zombies project that I first heard about last year and was in pre-production. The title might be a good compromise for fans of Call of Duty zombies, who apparently won’t get the classic zombie experience in Modern Warfare 2.
There is a separate Call of Duty zombies project in early development, which is not currently connected to any title.
– Tom Henderson (@_Tom_Henderson_) February 23, 2021
With Sledgehammer’s next title, one developer anonymously suggested that the plan could be just a “gap year” for the series, with annual releases resuming soon after. The theory is based on the studio being given until 2025 to complete the next Call of Duty project. However, game development is a very flexible process and the date can easily be changed based on data gained from the release of the Treyarch title in 2024. But this snippet of information suggests that annual Call of Duty premium titles should not be ruled out going forward and Activision seems to have all its rules Covered with privilege.
Such plans can be hinted at publicly as well, as Sledgehammer Games appears to be ramping up developer talent acquisition, rather than losing it. According to the studio’s LinkedIn, it has seen a 21% increase in talent over the past year, with 7% growth in the past six months. Additionally, the studio doesn’t seem to be slowing down in hiring either, with more than 60 vacancies (the same amount as last year) across its four studios in Australia, Canada, the US and the UK. Sledgehammer Games now has nearly 500 employees, putting the studio on par with the other major studios in Call of Duty, Treyarch and Infinity Ward.
With the acquisition expected to be completed by the summer of 2023, no one really knows the future of Call of Duty. Today’s plans could change in a moment tomorrow, but one thing is for sure – we’re at least getting the Call of Duty title this year from development by Infinity Ward. Sources said the title has two years of content planned across all of its modes, and I’ll report on more details when I hear more.
Activision appears to have all its bases covered for whatever scenario may arise in the next couple of years, with several Call of Duty experiences in various stages of production. If anything, it looks like we’ll be getting more Call of Duty games rather than less going forward.