So much for Activision Blizzard taking a year off from Call of Duty - it's widely believed that Infinity Ward will helm the franchise for the next three years, so fans shouldn't expect a new installment until 2025. However, Tom Henderson is saying that Sledgehammer Games is already working on a new Call of Duty game.
Two things stand out from what Henderson said: One, is, why is Sledgehammer the lead studio on this one? It's not a secret that Call of Duty: Vanguard was a low point in the series' sales and public appeal. Second, is Henderson confirming (again) that a mainline Call of Duty game will not come out in 2023?
Henderson's claims line up with other reports that Activision is stepping away from Call of Duty's annual schedule. In addition, the controversial publisher recently mentioned the evolution of the shooter to an "always-on model", all but confirming the end of one of gaming's longest-running development cycles.
— Tom Henderson (@_Tom_Henderson_) April 12, 2022
Henderson's latest intel helps add weight to his earlier leak that Treyarch will release a free-to-play Call of Duty zombies game in 2023. In this scenario, Activision isn't necessarily putting a stop to Call of Duty's annual release schedule even if that's what looks like is happening. Instead, what Activision Blizzard is doing is adding other offerings in between mainline Call of Duty games. This would make sense following the success of 2020's Call of Duty: Warzone.
The free-to-play live-service shooter has since become an integral part of the company's revenue stream and is set to play a much larger role with the release of Warzone Mobile and Warzone 2. However, it's hard not to think about how Activision Blizzard's plans are counterintuitive.
You'd assume that stepping away from releasing a new Call of Duty game every year would mean that the studios will support the current titles for a longer time. Not to mention, Henderson alleges that Activision Blizzard thinks that series fatigue is starting to kick in, which is why it's ending the cycle.
With multiple Call of Duty variants in the pipeline, players will actually start seeing more of the game and not less. Maybe we'll all get to cross that bridge once we get there, but for now, the more pressing matter is Sledgehammer Games' appointment. The team isn't without talent, but Vanguard isn't its first entry with mixed reception from critics and the fan base.
It wasn't so 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 reportedly had to think twice about the series' future after Vanguard implies that the company is shifting its focus on the franchise's free-to-play and live-service variants with "lesser" studios working on the mainline installments.
If this is the case, fans of Call of Duty's single-player campaigns should worry. Most recent single-player campaigns are widely considered a strong return to form for Call of Duty. Making them less of a priority by giving the keys to Sledgehammer - the studio has the weakest track record compared to Treyarch and Infinity Ward - feels like a step in the wrong direction.
In other news, Activision is facing yet another sexual harassment lawsuit Also, a recent job listing sighting is also generating chatter that Call of Duty will get a subscription service with one leaker claiming that NFTs are headed to the best-seller franchise.