Every Call of Duty from this point forward is gonna get just a little bit longer in the oven.
Activision announced today that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 co-developer Sledgehammer Games is the team responsible for the next entry in the popular shooter franchise, which will debut in 2014. That means that the publisher now has three teams — Sledgehammer, Infinity Ward (Ghosts), and Treyarch (Black Ops II) — making Call of Duty titles. Each developer will have three years to make their game.
With this schedule, after Sledgehammer’s game, the next Treyarch release will hit in 2015, and the next Infinity Ward-led Call of Duty will come in 2016.
Call of Duty is one of Activision’s most important properties. It generates more than $1 billion in revenue for the publisher on an annual basis. A Call of Duty game was the best-selling title each of the last several years — except for in 2013, when Grand Theft Auto V outsold everything else on the market.
While the shooter franchise is important to Activision, the company is also potentially taking a risk. committing multiple studios to three games over the next several years will require a lot of resources. Those resources could end up squandered if the Call of Duty fanbase dries up, and it’s possible that could happen.
While Call of Duty: Ghosts was the second best-selling game of 2013, it did not sell as quickly as 2012’s Black Ops II, according to industry research firm The NPD Group. That could mean the series is on the decline. The shooter market is also going to get more crowded in 2014 as more gamers turn to Electronic Arts’ military shooter Battlefield 4 and its upcoming futuristic mech game, Titanfall, from the new studio founded by the original creators of Call of Duty. Activision’s own Destiny could even draw attention away from the long-running Call of Duty.