Activision Blizzard to delay Call of Duty 2023 game
Activision Blizzard Inc. will delay a Call of Duty 2023 game that had been planned for next year, the first time the franchise will be without an annual mainline release in nearly two decades, according to people familiar with the plan. The company is working on other projects to fill the gap. A Call of Duty game set to come out this fall will receive a steady stream of new content, and there will be a free-to-play online title next year, said the people, who asked not to be identified because they weren't authorized to discuss the plans.
Treyarch, the Activision-owned studio working on the now-delayed game, will also help with the free-to-play title, the people said. A spokesman for Activision didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
The delay will have a massive effect on the video game industry. Every fall since 2005, Activision has put out a new, premium entry in the lucrative shooting series. Call of Duty games regularly top yearly sales charts and have sold more than 400 million units since the series began in 2003.
The decision was made independently of Activision's agreement to sell itself to Microsoft Corp. for $69 billion, the people familiar with the move said. Last year's entry, Call of Duty: Vanguard, failed to meet Activision's sales expectations, leading executives to suspect that it had been cannibalized by the previous year's game. The company also released a free-to-play battle royale game, Call of Duty: Warzone, in 2020, which has been a massive success and may have also drawn players away from the premium entries.
Activision remains autonomous, and Microsoft could decide to change these plans after the acquisition, which is expected to be finalized by the summer of 2023 pending approval from regulators.
Call of Duty games are developed by a rotating stable of Activision's development studios. This year's entry, a new Modern Warfare game, will be made by Woodland Hills, California-based Infinity Ward. Bloomberg earlier reported that Activision executives were seriously considering skipping a year of Call of Duty.