Call of Duty: WWII may be exactly what the franchise needs
After months of speculation and rumors, Activision has now officially confirmed that the next Call of Duty game will be set during World War II. The publisher also revealed the title, Call of Duty: WWII. More details will be revealed in a live-stream hosted on the official Call of Duty website on Wednesday, April 26, at 10 am PST.
The new game will be developed by Sledgehammer Games, the team responsible for 2014’s Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. This will be its second full COD game since Activision announced that it would shift development duties of the annually released game from two developers to three. Prior to Advanced Warfare, Sledgehammer also helped out with Modern Warfare 3.
The Call of Duty brand remains relatively strong, but the shine has gone off the franchise that once regularly earned $1 billion annually with each new release. 2016’s Infinite Warfare was the best-selling game in the U.S. in 2016. For most franchises that would be a cause to celebrate, but by Activision’s own admission the game failed to live up to its expectations.
With Call of Duty the franchise is competing with itself as much as anyone. Infinite Warfare was itself something of a departure for the series thanks to its space battles and futuristic combat, but it sold less than half of what its predecessor, Black Ops III, sold. That game, in turn, sold over $550 million in its first three days. Again, that’s a powerful launch, but it’s still half of what earlier COD games used to command with each launch.
No release date was mentioned for Call of Duty: WWII, but there has been a new COD game every year since 2005’s Call of Duty 2 (the original Call of Duty released in 2003). Since 2009’s Modern Warfare 2, the series has continued to introduce more and more advanced forms of combat. The return to the WWII setting will be the first step back in terms of things like weapons since 2008’s Call of Duty: World at War.
It’s an interesting decision to go backward in order to push the franchise forward, but it may be exactly what the series needs to avoid player exhaustion. It’s also a move that has recent precedent, at least to a degree. Electronic Arts took a risk with the Battlefield franchise in 2016 and sent its series back in time to First World War. Battlefield 1 didn’t change the formula, but the shift in setting gave it a revamped feel, enough so that it not only won awards it was a huge hit, selling over 14 million units.
We’ll know more next week when Activision debuts the game via the live-stream.