Following months of rumours, Activision – still reeling from shocking reports it fostered a company culture where sexual harassment, assault, and inappropriate behaviour were able to thrive – has confirmed this year’s Call of Duty game will be a sequel to 2019’s Modern Warfare.
Development will, according to an announcement buried at the bottom of Call of Duty’s most recent community update, be handled by long-time Call of Duty studio Infinity Ward. The developer is also said to be working on a new Warzone “experience”, both being designed together and both built from the “ground up” using a new engine.
The announcement of a new Warzone was also expected – Bloomberg reported a follow-up to the Call of Duty themed Battle Royale experience was in the works several weeks ago – but it remains a curious proposition. It is, after all, rare that free-to-play live service games – designed to be long-term investments for players – get sequels, and even rarer for it to happen barely two years into the first game’s life.
Exactly how this new Warzone will ultimately present itself – as an entirely self-contained sequel or as a continuation of the original game, with player progress being carried over – remains uncertain, with Activision only saying it would bring a “massive evolution of Battle Royale with all-new playspace and a new sandbox mode.”
Today’s announcement follows a number of equally low-key reveals from Activision Blizzard in recent weeks – namely a new Blizzard survival game and a mobile port for World of Warcraft – and comes as the company still deals with the fallout of last year’s State of California lawsuit calling Blizzard a “breeding ground for harassment and discrimination against women.”
Since the lawsuit was filed, Activision’s disastrous attempts to right its public image have only worsened. CEO Bobby Kotick was subsequently the subject of a damning report claiming he was aware of sexual misconduct within the company “for years”, while Activision continues to draw ire for its apparent union-busting efforts against Raven Software employees.
All this unfolds as Activision Blizzard makes preparations for its acquisition by Microsoft, which recently bought the publisher for an astonishing $69bn. That buyout has left many pondering the future of the Call of Duty series on non-Xbox platforms, but that question was answered earlier this week when Microsoft made a commitment to release Call of Duty on PlayStation “beyond the existing agreement and into the future”.