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Call of Duty skipping 2023 in favor of more Modern Warfare 2, reports say

Rumor has it MW2’s reboot will get a campaign extension and ‘greatest hits’ map pack

A soldier standing in a helicopter in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2022) Image: Infinity Ward/Activision
Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

Call of Duty, an annual series going back to 2005, won’t publish a new, main-series game in 2023, and will instead see a campaign extension for the soon-to-launch Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 reboot, according to a corroborated leak on social media.

Twitter insider TheGhostOfHope last week said that a premium “greatest hits map pack,” comprising multiplayer maps from 2009’s Modern Warfare 2, and other fan favorites, would be “released for MWII Year 2.” Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier, who first reported (in February) that Call of Duty would skip 2023, concurred that Activision would sell “new stuff for MW2,” next year: “an expansion or something like that” which would include a single-player campaign component.

Schreier also reported in February that a “new free-to-play online title” was in development at Treyarch and would launch in 2023. Treyarch’s 2024 Call of Duty game will be part of the Black Ops storyline that studio has developed since 2010.

Activision responded to February’s rumors by saying it had “an exciting slate of premium and free-to-play Call of Duty experiences for this year, next year, and beyond.”

The rebooted Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 will launch at the end of October. Call of Duty: Warzone 2.0, the next iteration of the series’ free-to-play battle royale, arrives Nov. 16. Both will be available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.

Activision’s Call of Duty flagship franchise has only “skipped” one year since its 2003 debut, that being in 2004. Since 2005, Infinity Ward, Treyarch, and later Sledgehammer Games and Raven Software, have rotated development of the military shooter to deliver a new game every fall.

Still, even with three years, development of a full-strength Call of Duty runs on a very tight schedule. Treyarch was moved up one year, to 2020, with Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War when Sledgehammer Games’ development of what would become Call of Duty: Vanguard ran into difficulties with support studio Raven Software in 2019.

Even if 2023 is the series’ 20th anniversary year, it makes sense that Treyarch would get a breather after pinch-hitting on two years’ rest in 2020. Further, Dan Bunting, Treyarch’s development co-lead since 2003, abruptly left the studio last year. He departed following a Wall Street Journal report in which he was allegedly protected by Activision chief executive Bobby Kotick after a sexual harassment claim was made against Bunting in 2017.

A skipped year also makes sense in light of Microsoft’s ongoing $68 billion acquisition of Activision, announced back in January and subject to government regulators’ approval in the United States and Europe. Though Microsoft has said it intends to continue developing and publishing Call of Duty for rival PlayStation platforms, Sony says Microsoft’s public stance is “inadequate” considering the outsize influence Call of Duty has in the console gaming marketplace.

In September, PlayStation chief executive Jim Ryan said Microsoft had, in “a private business discussion,” only offered to continue publishing Call of Duty on PlayStation “for three years after the current agreement between Activision and Sony ends.”

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