Treyarch didn't use to be a one-trick pony. Before Activision trusted the California-based studio with making Call of Duty games exclusively, Treyarch made a handful of Spider-Man games as well as a 007 title. Now, it appears that Activision is letting Treyarch work on a non-COD project.
Earlier this week, Bloomberg published a report indicating that Activision might not release a new Call of Duty game in 2023. Since then, fans have combed through the same report several times with other insiders coming forward with other additional information. In this case, one keen-eyed observer noticed a line saying that there will be a "new, free-to-play online title next year" with the help of Treyarch.
Some people assumed that the report was talking about Warzone 2, which was confirmed a few weeks ago alongside Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. However, there's evidence suggesting that this isn't the case. Furthermore, Tom Henderson claims that Activision is sitting on a "separate Call of Duty zombies project" that's not related to previous titles. This might suggest that Treyarch is helping out an unnamed studio work on a standalone zombies game.
There is a separate Call of Duty zombies project in early development, that is currently not connected to any title.
— Tom Henderson (@_Tom_Henderson_) February 23, 2021
On top of what we just said, there are other prevalent theories as well. For example, the free-to-play title could be the previously leaked mobile version of Call of Duty: Warzone. This would be in line with Microsoft's previous statement about bringing Call of Duty to the Nintendo Switch. Although Microsoft still doesn't own Activision Blizzard, it only feels like a matter of time at this point, so it would make sense for the publisher to position things favorably for the company's future owners.
Assuming that the report about a delayed Call of Duty 2023 release is true, it's also possible that the decision isn't related to Call of Duty at all but Activision Blizzard's other franchises. Overwatch 2 could be released in 2023, which means that Activision Blizzard will want to push the highly anticipated sequel as its premiere multiplayer shooter in 2023 with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Warzone 2, and the free-to-play Treyarch-assisted title all helping tide audiences over until Treyarch's current-gen-exclusive Call of Duty game in 2024.
You have to remember that Activision Blizzard is risking a lot by delaying a new Call of Duty release in 2023. Even in back-to-back "down" years, Black Ops - Cold War and Vanguard still topped the sales charts in 2020 and 2021, respectively. It doesn't matter if Microsoft ends up owning Activision Blizzard by then or not, it is still in the controversial publisher's best interests to look out for its bottom line.
By making sure that there's enough content in 2023 and the earlier parts of 2024, Activision Blizzard guarantees that there's enough money to mitigate the potential loss of skipping a year for the first time in Call of Duty's history.
Of course, this is all just speculation - Activision Blizzard still hasn't confirmed its plans for 2023 and beyond. But, if we assume that everything that you just read is true, fans will at least have plenty of marquee shooters to choose from in 2023.