Call of Duty may skip 2023 — here's what you'll be able to play instead

Call of Duty Modern warfare screenshot
(Image credit: Activision)

Update: An Activision spokesperson has reached out in response to the below article and said: "We have an exciting slate of premium and free-to-play Call of Duty experiences for this year, next year and beyond. Reports of anything otherwise are incorrect. We look forward to sharing more details when the time is right."

We’ve only recently learned that Call of Duty 2022 will be a Modern Warfare sequel, but news about Call of Duty 2023 is already leaking. It looks like next year will be a very unusual one for the long running shooter franchise as it could be the first year since 2005 that there isn’t a new mainline instalment. 

There has been murmuring that Call of Duty could take a year off for a while now, but Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier has claimed the decision is now final. Activision has reportedly decided that in 2023 it will not release a new entry in the Call of Duty franchise. This would mark the end of the franchise’s almost two decade run of annual releases. 

This decision reportedly comes in the wake of a “recent entry in the series failing to meet expectations.” The entry in question is almost certainly 2021’s Call of Duty Vanguard. The WWII shooter launched last November to a tepid reception and while sales data has been scarce the game sold 36% less at launch in the U.K. compared to 2020’s Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War. Perhaps a franchise rethink is on the horizon. 

According to Schreier’s report, “some executives believe [Activision is] introducing new versions too rapidly.” This is a sentiment that is often echoed by the Call of Duty community. Traditionally games in the franchise only receive a year of dedicated support, before focus is shifted to the next instalment. This has previously led to Call of Duty games being abandoned just as they’ve hit a sweet spot in terms of content and overall gameplay balance. 

Call of Duty games are made on a rotating cycle between three studios: Infinity Ward, Treyarch and Sledgehammer Games, although they often intermingle and assist each other as needed. Next year was due to be the turn of Treyarch who last led the development on Black Ops Cold War. 

In the wake of this news, the California-based development team will reportedly shift focus to a new free-to-play title that will release in 2023 to fill the void left by Call of Duty. It's not yet known if this unconfirmed online game will be set within the Call of Duty universe, or will be an entirely franchise. 

Despite this news, diehard Call of Duty fans don’t need to worry about what they’ll have to play in 2023. This year’s Call of Duty Modern Warfare sequel is highly likely to receive two years of support to tide players over, plus a new Warzone experience is already confirmed to launch in 2022. This follow-up to the wildly popular battle royale title will undoubtedly have a longtail and is sure to receive regular support throughout 2023 and beyond. 

While there will still be plenty of Call of Duty content next year even without a new mainline entry, the franchise potentially skipping 2023 is still big news. A new Call of Duty each year has become such a mainstay of the gaming release calendar you can set your watch by it. It’ll definitely feel a little strange if 2023 doesn't have a fresh Call of Duty to play, but some time off could be just what the franchise needs to recapture its spark. 

And if you fancy a change from Call of Duty there are some stellar shooting games you can play right now; Deathloop would be one of our immediate choices. But Apex Legends also offers some serious battle royale action, Doom Eternal is a rip-roaring run-and-gun game, and the PS5 exclusive third-person action, Returnal is well worth a look. 

Rory Mellon
Entertainment Editor (UK)

Rory is an Entertainment Editor at Tom’s Guide based in the UK. He covers a wide range of topics but with a particular focus on gaming and streaming. When he’s not reviewing the latest games, searching for hidden gems on Netflix, or writing hot takes on new gaming hardware, TV shows and movies, he can be found attending music festivals and getting far too emotionally invested in his favorite football team.