“Call of Duty” is going back to its roots.
Activision (ATVI) confirmed months of speculation on Friday by unveiling the name for the next effort in their long-running shooter franchise, and it’s surprisingly straightforward. Simply called “Call of Duty: WWII,” the new game is being developed by Sledgehammer Games and, as rumors have hinted, will head back into the trenches of the Second World War.
This marks an abrupt change of direction for the series, which hasn’t explored the World War II era since 2008’s “World at War.” Recent releases, including “Black Ops III,” “Advanced Warfare” and “Infinite Warfare,” featured increasingly over-the-top sci-fi weaponry and settings.
As of February 2016, over 250 million copies of “Call of Duty” games have been sold worldwide, earning over $15 billion for publisher Activision. Last year’s “Infinite Warfare” was the top selling game of 2016, while 2015’s “Black Ops III” landed in the eighth spot.
However, sales have generally fallen off since the franchise’s heyday, when every annual release would break entertainment industry sales records. Despite leading 2016, “Infinite Warfare” couldn’t quite reach the lofty heights of “Black Ops III.”
“Call of Duty’s” trip back in time mirrors EA’s decision to set last year’s “Battlefield 1” in World War I. That game was the second best-seller of 2016, trailing only “Infinite Warfare.”
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Ben Silverman is on Twitter at ben_silverman.