Call of Duty could ditch its yearly release schedule, according to a new report.
According to Bloomberg, “high-level employees” at Activision have discussed ditching Call of Duty’s current annualised release schedule, which has been in place since 2005.
This follows Microsoft’s $68.7bn purchase of Activision Blizzard – a deal expected to go through by the end of June 2023. There is no suggestion that this year’s Call of Duty, expected to be Infinity Ward’s follow-up to 2019’s Modern Warfare, will be delayed from the series’ usual slot before Christmas. But if Activision does decide to give Call of Duty some time off, it may skip 2023.
Call of Duty players have welcomed the suggestion the series may take a break – however short lived. Call of Duty games have an effective shelf-life of one year before Activision shifts focus to the next game in the series. Fans of 2019’s Modern Warfare were disappointed to see that game left behind upon Black Ops Cold War’s 2020 release, and, late last year, the same thing happened with the release of Vanguard. (In December 2020, I wrote that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare deserved a next-gen update and a full-blown second year.)
Meanwhile, the developers of Warzone have struggled to integrate Black Ops Cold War and Vanguard into the battle royale behemoth, with ill-fitting weapons and other gameplay mechanics causing trouble.
Any break will no doubt be celebrated by the army of developers Activision has amassed to fuel its relentless schedule of Call of Duty content. And with Call of Duty: Vanguard sales significantly down versus previous games in the series, time off may tackle the Call of Duty fatigue that has clearly set in.
According to Bloomberg, Activision employees are “optimistic” about the acquisition by Microsoft, although there is “trepidation” about potential layoffs. There is also a “determination” to fight for better wages and more worker protections.
The deal comes after a turbulent period for Activision Blizzard, following numerous reports of employee misconduct and toxic workplace conditions and intense pressure on the company’s hugely controversial boss Bobby Kotick. For now – at least until that 2023 date – Kotick will stay in place, but he is expected to leave the company afterwards.
Bloomberg also notes “excitement” for more creative freedom under Xbox. Activision has enlisted pretty much all of its studios to serve Call of Duty development, with series such as Crash, Spyro, Guitar Hero and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater falling by the wayside.
Yesterday, Xbox head Phil Spencer spoke of Microsoft’s “desire to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation”.