Call of Duty developers considering moving away from yearly releases, says report

A soldier in Call of Duty Vanguard carrying a submachine gun
(Image credit: Activision Blizzard)

In the wake of Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard, developers on Call of Duty are mulling the possibility of slowing down their release cadence.

That report comes from Bloomberg, who spoke to many anonymous ‘high-level’ employees, reporting that a change in the release structure of Call of Duty is being considered. This is directly tied to the new acquisition and is one the developers on the franchise seem to be pushing for. 

It’s said that there is a desire for the franchise to move away from the current annual release model and embrace a slower cadence to allow the franchise to breathe more. It’s also mentioned, however, that no final decision has been made. 

The report claims that the yearly release structure has led to ‘brutal overtime’ at Treyarch and Infinity Ward. If made, this change would be for the health of the development team, but it's also believed that it would be welcomed by players.

This new structure is being considered not just because of Microsoft's acquisition, but also as a response to the lackluster performance of Call of Duty: Vanguard. Last year’s entry in the franchise was down 36% in the UK from Call of Duty: Black Ops - Cold War in 2020. The hope would be that giving the games more time to breathe would not only allow the developers more time to work on their games, but also customers more time to recharge between releases.

That being said, these are not moves that are likely to affect the franchise imminently. The report says that this change to the release schedule wouldn’t take effect until later next year or later. As such, the next installment in Call of Duty is still expected to launch later this year. 

Give Call of Duty a year off

The Call of Duty franchise has been annualized since its inception in 2003, where the only off year was 2004 with a gap between Call of Duty and Call of Duty 2. That means a new game in the franchise has landed every year for 18 years - and soon to be 19, with the new title set to be released later this year. 

Considering the franchise’s history of releases, as well as the slowing enthusiasm for the brand, it’s not hard to make the case that players may appreciate a breather from the near two decades of Call of Duty’s onslaught. That is to say nothing of the benefit to a beleaguered staff who have had to contend with the release schedule. 

Thankfully, at least if Phil Spencer is to be believed on face value, Call of Duty will remain a franchise that is open to others. He recently said that he intends to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation platforms. What’s more, an analyst has also given some input saying they believe it would be difficult to strip the franchise away from Sony.

Whatever happens, it does feel like a slower cadence in the Call of Duty releases may benefit most parties, from developers to players. If it’s a change that Microsoft is willing to make for the franchise, hopefully, it will come to pass before too long in the interest of its long-term future.

Patrick Dane
Gaming Guides Editor

Patrick Dane is TechRadar Gaming's Guides Editor. With nearly a decade in the games press, he's been a consistent voice in the industry. He's written for a plethora of major publications and travelled the world doing it. He also has a deep passion for games as a service and their potential to tell evolving stories. To wit, he has over 2000 hours in Destiny 2, over 1000 in Overwatch and is now deeply into Valorant.