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Activision says the ‘next full premium’ Call of Duty is coming in 2023

Activision Blizzard’s 2023 plans for Call of Duty include the “next full premium release in the blockbuster annual series,” according to the company’s third-quarter earnings published Monday (pdf). While that wouldn’t be particularly notable most years given the regular fall release cycle of Call of Duty, Bloomberg reported in February that Activision Blizzard had planned to delay its planned annual entry for 2023.

According to Bloomberg, Activision Blizzard was going to delay the 2023 title following the poor response to 2021’s Call of Duty: Vanguard, which failed to meet the company’s projections. And Bloomberg had said in January that the company was considering a change in the annual releases.

At the time, Activision Blizzard appeared to dispute the report, though it didn’t outright confirm there would be a 2023 game. “We have an exciting slate of premium and free-to-play Call of Duty experiences for this year, next year and beyond,” Activision spokesperson Neil Wood said in a statement in February. “Reports of anything otherwise are incorrect. We look forward to sharing more details when the time is right.”

And Activision has expanded the franchise in recent years beyond just the annual premium releases. With things like Call of Duty: Mobile, the Warzone battle royale (which is getting a 2.0 release later this month), and the upcoming mobile Warzone release in 2023, it seemed like the company could have taken a year off to focus on other Call of Duty games and services.

But that won’t be happening in 2023, as Activision Blizzard is moving forward with another big Call of Duty title for the year, perhaps buoyed by the huge success of the newly released Modern Warfare II. Here’s exactly what the company said about its plans for the franchise next year, including the mention of the next annual game (emphasis mine):

Activision is looking forward to building on its current momentum in 2023, with plans for next year including the most robust Call of Duty live operations to date, the next full premium release in the blockbuster annual series, and even more engaging free-to-play experiences across platforms.

In its earnings, Activision Blizzard also warned that it may not be able to negotiate a new deal to license “several” of its games in China with “a third party.” The agreements, which contributed “approximately” 3 percent of its consolidated net revenues in 2021, expire in January 2023, the company said. “We are in discussions regarding the renewal of these agreements, but a mutually-satisfactory deal may not be reached.” Its co-development and publishing deal for Diablo Immortal with NetEase is unaffected, as it’s covered by a separate agreement.

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Microsoft’s planned acquisition of Activision Blizzard, which was announced in January, is still winding its way through the necessary regulatory processes. The acquisition is expected to close sometime in Microsoft’s 2023 fiscal year, which ends in June.

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