Activision Blizzard is reportedly delaying the next entry in the Call of Duty franchise.
According to a report by Bloomberg, sources familiar with the plan said the studio will delay the planned 2023 release of the next Call of Duty installment.
This marks the first time since 2005 that the popular shooter franchise will miss its annual mainline release.
Sources claimed the delay comes after “a recent entry in the series failed to meet expectations, leading some executives to believe that they’re introducing new versions too rapidly.”
Bloomberg noted that the franchise’s entry last year, Call of Duty: Vanguard, “failed to meet Activision’s sales expectations” which led “executives to suspect that it had been cannibalized by the previous year’s game.”
Additionally, the “massive success” of the series’ free-to-play mobile game Call of Duty: Warzone “may have drawn players away from the premium entries”
To fill in the gap next year, Bloomberg’s sources said that the publisher is working on other projects including this year’s Call of Duty game, which will receive a “steady stream of additional content.”
Activision earlier announced that this year’s Call of Duty entry will be a sequel to 2019’s Modern Warfare. This new game as well as a follow up to the franchise’s massively popular free-to-play battle royale game, Warzone, are being developed by Infinity Ward.
In addition to this, there will also be a new free-to-play online game title next year, sources said. The report added that Treyarch, the studio handling the now delayed Call of Duty game, will also help with the free-to-play game.
Meanwhile, the news outfit noted that the delay “will have a massive effect on the video game industry” as Activision annually releases a new entry to the acclaimed shooting series 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 report said.
They noted, however, that the “decision was not related to Activision’s agreement to sell itself to Microsoft Corp. for $69 billion.”
“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,” the report added.
In January, Microsoft agreed to acquire the embattled Santa Monica-based company for $68.7 billion.
The deal includes the acquisition of iconic franchises such as Warcraft, Diablo, Overwatch, Call of Duty, and Starcraft. This means that these games may soon likely join the gaming company’s Xbox Game Pass, which currently has over 25 million subscribers around the world.
“Upon close, we will offer as many Activision Blizzard games as we can within Xbox Game Pass and PC Game Pass, both new titles and games from Activision Blizzard’s incredible catalog,” Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer said.