Call of Duty will be MIA in 2023, insiders claim

A pilot defends himself in Call of Duty: Vanguard
(Image credit: Activision Blizzard)

Activision is apparently giving Call of Duty a break in 2023, pushing the release of Treyarch’s next entry in the series into 2024. Instead of a full-blooded release, Activision plans to support this year’s (currently unannounced) Call of duty through 2023 with additional content.

The decision to break from the annual release cycle is because last year’s Call of Duty: Vanguard failed to meet Activision’s expectations, Bloomberg reports. While Vanguard was the best-selling game of 2021, its sales were still markedly lower than the previous year’s Black Ops Cold War.

If these reports are accurate, it will make 2023 the first year without a new Call of Duty in two decades. Apparently, Activision will fill the gap with continued support for this year’s Call of Duty and its free-to-play spinoff Warzone.

This year’s Call of Duty is allegedly bringing a second free-to-play spinoff, titled DMZ, which will also help fill the gap between mainline releases. According to Tom Henderson, a freelance writer with a strong record of reporting on Call of Duty and Battlefield 2042 leaks, DMZ is inspired by games like Escape From Tarkov, which mixes multiplayer with AI enemies and a high-pressure loot game.

Activision hasn’t confirmed Bloomberg’s reporting. Instead, saying in a statement it has “an exciting slate of premium and free-to-play Call of Duty experiences for this year, next year and beyond.”

Analysis: Call of Duty needs a breather

Call of Duty Warzone Pacific Season 2 screenshot

(Image credit: Activision Blizzard)

Activision isn’t the first publisher to step away from an annual release cycle. After releasing a new game seven years in a row, Ubisoft had to give Assassin’s Creed a break. The move paid off, too; Origins, released two years after Syndicate, was one of the best-reviewed and best-selling games in the series’ history - selling more than double the copies Syndicate did in its first ten days.

Ubisoft is taking the break from the annual release a step further and plans to turn the series into a platform with Assassin’s Creed Infinity. With the success of Warzone and the launch of DMZ on the horizon, we could see Call of Duty head the same way. 

While Call of Duty has consistently been one of the top-selling games for the past two decades, it’s hard to ignore that the newer games have received cooler receptions at launch. Players have criticized the developers for re-used assets, short campaigns, and simply for not being innovative.

It will be fascinating to see what Treyarch is able to achieve with an additional year’s development time. Will this be the Assassin’s Creed: Origin’s moment for Call of Duty?

Julian Benson
Contributor, TechRadar Gaming

Julian's been writing about video games for more than a decade. In that time, he's always been drawn to the strange intersections between gaming and the real world, like when he interviewed a NASA scientist who had become a Space Pope in EVE Online,  or when he traveled to Ukraine to interview game developers involved in the 2014 revolution, or that time he tore his trousers while playing Just Dance with a developer.