Call of Duty may skip yearly release for first time in almost two decades

According to a report from Bloomberg, tepid sales are the driving force behind potentially pushing the release of a new Call of Duty for the first time in about 20 years.

You can count on certain things to recur every year: death, taxes, and a new Call of Duty game. It's arguably the most iconic annual franchise in gaming, aside from the slate of reliable sports games. However, according to a Bloomberg report, we're apparently not going to get a new premium COD in 2023, as publisher Activision has shunted it to 2024.

As with a lot of video game scoops, this one relies entirely on anonymous sources, so take it with a grain of salt. According to Bloomberg, this decision has nothing to do with Microsoft's blockbuster purchase of the mega-publisher a few weeks ago. Instead, it has to do with basic dollars and sense.

For years now, the most popular Call of Duty game hasn't been a $60 annual entry in the series, but its free-to-play battle royale game, Warzone. Last year's entry, Vanguard, fell short of Activision's sales expectations, which led the publisher to wonder if the continued success of Warzone ate into its sales.

Say it ain't so — According to Bloomberg, Activision executives have wondered about the annual pace of new Call of Duty games for a while now, so this isn't as much of a surprise as you might think. The report notes that Activision made this decision by itself, and Microsoft may choose to revise the plan once the two companies merge in an unholy union.

Activision sent a statement to IGN and other outlets in response:

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

By our reading, this statement appears to neither confirm nor deny the Bloomberg report, which usually means that it's a tacit confirmation. Still, it's also likely that the situation isn't entirely written in stone yet, so don't set a clock by it.

If Call of Duty actually does skip a year, it'll be a watershed moment for the video games industry. Most publishers have moved away from the annual model over the past decade or so due to market fatigue and the simple fact that most games take a lot longer than a year to make. In addition, most big-budget games rely on microtransactions like battle passes and other cosmetics to continue to make money past the initial surge of sales. (Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed, another long-running annualized franchise, moved to a slower production schedule with 2017's Origins.)