According to a recent report from Kotaku, a “major upheaval” by Activision could see Call of Duty: Black Ops 5 launch in 2020, a year earlier than previous release patterns would lead fans to expect it.
The Call of Duty franchise has followed a very strict yearly release pattern for many years now and since 2012, publisher Activision has rotated its three main studios—Sledgehammer, Treyarch and Infinity Ward—with each taking the lead on its own project for a three-year development cycle.
Given Treyarch took the lead on 2018’s Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 and Infinity Ward is expected to announce a new Modern Warfare title for 2019, it was expected that Sledgehammer, in tandem with another studio called Raven, would develop a game set in the Cold War for a 2020 release.
However, Kotaku’s report suggests that this has changed, partly as a result of recent leadership changes within Sledgehammer and disagreements between the studio and Raven. According to sources close to the project, Activision has now placed Black Ops studio, Treyarch, in charge of its 2020 release with Call of Duty: Black Ops 5.
Sledgehammer and Raven, meanwhile, will act as support studios and the work they’ve done so far will become a single-player story mode in Black Ops 5, which is likely to please fans who missed a single-player campaign in Black Ops 4.
This does, however, give Treyarch two years rather than three to develop its next game, which is potentially a point of concern in an industry that’s facing increased scrutiny on crunch and brutal overtime for developers.
Activision is yet to comment on these rumors but the publisher will likely be talking about what’s next for the Call of Duty franchise at E3 2019, where it’s forgoing its usual show floor booth but is still taking meetings.