It looks like this year's Call of Duty installment will be Black Ops 4. Activision brought the world famous shooter video game franchise back to its roots with Sledgehammer Games' Call of Duty: WWII last year. The franchise had been getting more and more ridiculous with its futuristic settings and weaponry, and it's clear by WWII's success that fans wanted a return to form for the series, akin to DICE's quasi-reset with Battlefield 1 in 2016.
Call of Duty: WWII saw great success on the sales charts. It not only outsold 2016's Infinite Warfare by a large margin but it also became 2017's highest-grossing game on consoles. Those sales were mostly spurred by the franchise's return to World War II, but its multiplayer gameplay and new features, such as the headquarters social space, also contributed to the game's sales. And now, Activision is looking ahead to the next Call of Duty game, which is shaping up to be Black Ops 4. Rumors about Black Ops 4 first spawned with industry insider Marcus Sellers claiming on Twitter that Treyarch was working on the sequel. Eurogamer later confirmed that report, though they couldn't corroborate any of the other information regarding DLC and the game's setting. And now, there's even more evidence suggesting Black Ops 4 is in the works.
A video of Houston Rockets' James Harden surfaced online on Tuesday (below), showing him wearing a hat that resembled the Black Ops III logo but with an additional tally tacked on at the end. That caused a flurry of speculation amongst Call of Duty fans that Treyarch was, indeed, working on Black Ops 4. Kotaku has now confirmed that news with their sources in addition to confirming that the logo on Harden's hat is the official Black Ops 4 logo. Take a look:
The Beard has arrived, and he's ready for battle with the Thunder. pic.twitter.com/ky3E8TK9Hy— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) March 7, 2018
It's worth noting that Activision has yet to explicitly confirm the news, but all the evidence points to Black Ops 4 happening this year. The franchise used to switch off between games developed by Infinity Ward and those developed by Treyarch; it allowed both studios two years to make their games while still giving Activision an annual Call of Duty game. That schedule changed in 2014 when Activision introduced Sledgehammer Games into the mix and made Advanced Warfare. Since then, there has been a three-year cycle for Call of Duty games. And it's now Treyarch's turn to release their Call of Duty game in 2018.
Plus, despite seeing success with a WWII-centered game, it makes sense for Activision to return to the Black Ops series at this point. After all, Call of Duty: WWII is the highest-selling Call of Duty game since Black Ops II released in 2012 (via Gamesbeat). That's impressive considering there were four years of Call of Duty games that released on the new, current-generation consoles that couldn't top the final Call of Duty game that released only on last-gen consoles (including PC), meaning no Xbox One or PS4 release like Call of Duty: Ghosts.
Interestingly, by making Black Ops 4, Activision is breaking from tradition and continuing a series/story arc beyond a numbered trilogy for the first time. It stands to reason, then, that Infinity Ward could potentially develop Modern Warfare 4 next year. After all, it's their turn to make a Call of Duty game and fans are hoping that the studio will release Modern Warfare 2 Remastered in place of - or with - Call of Duty 2019 (in time for MW2's 10th anniversary). If that's the case, Black Ops 4 might just be the start of a new era of Call of Duty games that actually returns to the franchise's most successful series.