Shares of Activision Blizzard Inc. shook off a report late Tuesday that next year’s version of the popular “Call of Duty” videogame will be delayed.
Bloomberg News reported the game’s release will be delayed until 2024, making next year the first in nearly 20 years without a new version of “Call of Duty.” Activision shares ATVI, +0.22% initially sank about 1.5% in after-hours trading, but quickly recovered and were last in positive territory.
The stock’s recovery may have been helped by Bloomberg’s further reporting that Activision will provide a steady stream of additional content to the “Call of Duty” update that will be released this fall, and is planning a new, free game for next year to help fill the gap.
When asked for comment or confirmation, an Activision spokesperson told MarketWatch: “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.”
In November, the company said it would delay the release of two of its most eagerly anticipated titles, “Overwatch 2” and “Diablo IV.” Delays in the videogame industry have become more common as developers try to avoid repeats of 2020’s “Cyberpunk 2077” fiasco, when distributors like Sony Corp. SONY, -1.49% offered refunds to make up for the buggy gameplay.
The “Call of Duty” franchise debuted in 2003, and has sold more than 400 million units over the years.
Bloomberg said the delay is not related to Microsoft Corp.’s MSFT, -0.07% pending acquisition of Activision. If it passes muster with regulators, that deal is not expected to be completed until 2023.
In recent months, Activision Blizzard has also been wracked by allegations of sexual harassment and a toxic work environment, and the company is under multiple investigations by state and federal regulators.
Activision Blizzard shares are up 22% year to date, but down 16% over the past 12 months, compared to the S&P 500’s SPX, -1.01% 10% drop this year and 11% gain over the past year.
Updated with comment from Activision.