Activision has announced a new three-year development cycle for upcoming Call of Duty games, starting with this year's release. This move, which will still see individual Call of Duty games coming out annually, cements Sledgehammer Games as one of Activision's primary Call of Duty developers alongside Infinity Ward and Treyarch, which are respectively responsible for Call of Duty: Ghosts and Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. Each studio's game will take three years to develop, staggered for release on an annualized schedule.

"This will give our designers more time to envision and innovate for each title. Simultaneously, it will give our content creators more focus on DLC and micro-DLC which, as you know, have become large and high-margin opportunities and significant engagement drivers," Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg said during an annual earnings call today. "Finally, we'll give our teams more time to polish, helping ensure we deliver the best possible experience to our fans – each and every time."

Hirshberg went on to say that Activision "needed a third studio capable of delivering the level of excellence required for the West's biggest interactive entertainment franchise" and that Sledgehammer Games fits the bill. "They demonstrated their skill on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and on their past highly-rated games."

This year's Call of Duty game has yet to be officially announced. Sledgehammer's last game, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, launched in late 2011 and was well-received by critics.
[Image: Activision]

This article was originally published on Joystiq.