Call Of Duty Might Stop Being A Yearly Series, But Maybe Not Soon Or Ever
According to a report, "high-level employees" have discussed the possibility of shifting away from a yearly release model.
Call of Duty has been the best-selling video game series in the US for 13 years in a row now, but despite that, there have reportedly been discussions about no longer releasing the series annually.
According to a report from Bloomberg, "high-level employees have discussed moving away from the annual release schedule..." as part of Microsoft's acquisition of Activision Blizzard. Nothing is set in stone as of yet, but the report said "there's a belief among many Call of Duty developers that releasing games at a slower cadence will please players and help bolster the franchise."
This change could happen in 2023, or potentially later, the report said. 2022's new Call of Duty game, which is said to be a sequel to Infinity Ward's hugely popular Modern Warfare reboot, is poised to "redeem the franchise's fortunes," Bloomberg's report said.
"Slowing down the Call of Duty release schedule may lighten developers' intense workloads and could provide new opportunities for Activision's gamemakers to work on other titles," the report said.
The Call of Duty series debuted in 2003 and took a year off in 2004 before returning with Call of Duty 2 in 2005. After that, Activision released a new game every year since. The entire series has sold more than 400 million premium units, which only represents a fraction of the franchise's money-making opportunities. Call of Duty: Warzone, the free-to-play battle royale game, is a major revenue-driver, while Call of Duty: Mobile is a massive juggernaut as well.
The Call of Duty franchise has a three-year development cycle for each new installment, rotating between Infinity Ward, Sledgehammer, and Treyarch taking development duties with the support of other teams like Raven and High Moon, among others.
The latest release was Call of Duty: Vanguard, which was 2021's best-selling game overall in the US. The second best-selling game of 2021 was also a Call of Duty game, Black Ops Cold War. And as mentioned, the Call of Duty series is the best-selling game franchise for dollar sales for 13 years in a row in the US.
There is clearly a business case to be made for releasing a new Call of Duty game every year, but that might not be the only factor at play after Microsoft takes over, if the deal goes through.
When Microsoft announced its intent to buy Activision Blizzard, many wondered if the Call of Duty series would become exclusive to Xbox. Phil Spencer, the new head of Microsoft Gaming, released a statement that suggested Call of Duty will continue to be released on PlayStation, not unlike how Microsoft still releases new Minecraft games and experiences on competing consoles despite owning the franchise. Spencer said this was Microsoft's "desire," and his words do not outright confirm anything specific.
Had good calls this week with leaders at Sony. I confirmed our intent to honor all existing agreements upon acquisition of Activision Blizzard and our desire to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation. Sony is an important part of our industry, and we value our relationship.— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) January 20, 2022
Microsoft's deal to buy Activision Blizzard is expected to go through in Microsoft's FY2023, which means sometime between July 2022-June 2023.
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