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Call of Duty reportedly skipping annual release next year

UPDATE: Activision responds.

UPDATE 24/2/22: Activision has responded to this week's report that Call of Duty will skip its mainline entry in 2023.

There's no denial of the details of Bloomberg's reporting, which also claimed that a new free-to-play Call of Duty was in the works. Treyarch, whose game is now expected in 2024, is said to be assisting development on that.

"We have an exciting slate of premium and free-to-play Call of Duty experiences for this year, next year and beyond," an Activision spokesperson said in a statement passed to Eurogamer. "Reports of anything otherwise are incorrect. We look forward to sharing more details when the time is right."

ORIGINAL STORY 22/2/22: Call of Duty reportedly won't be getting a new mainline series entry in 2023, marking the first time in just under two decades the core series hasn't had an annual release.

This isn't the first time we've heard reports Activision has been considering ditching Call of Duty's yearly release schedule, but now Bloomberg's Jason Schreier claims it's a done deal, citing sources saying Activision executives made the decision to delay next year's mainline title "after a recent entry in the series failed to meet expectations".

That's almost certainly in reference to Call of Duty Vanguard, which has seen notably lower sales compared to 2020's Black Ops Cold War (down 36 percent in the UK), leading to declining year-over-year net bookings for the series as per Activision's most recent financial report. Bloomberg's sources added "some executives believe [Activision is] introducing new versions [of Call of Duty] too rapidly".

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As per Activision's usual rotating Call of Duty development schedule, Treyarch - the team behind Vanguard's multiplayer and Zombies components - was working on next year's mainline series entry. The studio will reportedly now assist with the development of a new free-to-play online title being released next year to help fill the new gap in Activision's 2023 line-up.

It's currently unclear if this is the new Warzone "experience" Activision confirmed to be in the works earlier this month. At the time of its announcement, the publisher said development was being lead by long-term Call of Duty studio Infinity Ward, which is also handling this year's mainline series entry, a sequel to Modern Warfare - due to launch this autumn with a "steady stream of additional content" to follow according to Bloomberg.

The publication says today's news is unrelated to Microsoft's $69bn acquisition of Activision Blizzard - a shock development that followed a tumultuous 2021 for the Call of Duty publisher and its controversial CEO Bobby Kotick in which Activision was accused of fostering a company culture where sexual harassment, assault, and inappropriate behaviour were able to thrive.

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