As has become an annual tradition for publisher Activision, the next installment of the Call of Duty franchise is gearing up for a reveal. The if was never in question; the April/May time frame has a longevity even Captain Price could admire. Today, however, an ostensible date for the announcement has finally been uncovered.

According to IGN, retailers have been sent promotional materials for an upcoming Call of Duty game containing instructions to go on display May 1st. The website received an image of the alleged store display blueprints, which appear to indicate a delivery date of April 29.

Call of Duty Next Gen Reveal May 1

A May 1st reveal date — or even April 30, with signage bombarding the patrons of GameStop as they walk in the next morning — would coincide with last year’s unveiling of Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 during a broadcast of the NBA Playoffs. Unlike Blacks Ops 2, however, where weeks of leaks and an Activision viral marketing campaign obviated most of the surprise, much remains a mystery regarding Call of Duty’s next destination.

One might even call it ghostly.

That developer Infinity Ward is behind the next Call of Duty is almost certain; Activision has kept it on a biennial rotation with Treyarch since 2005’s Call of Duty 2. But only late last year did the evidence begin to mount suggesting that Infinity Ward was spinning off another sequel within the Modern Warfare canon. First there was November’s mile-high mystery involving Captain Price voice actor Bill Murray; then, a week later, a set of scripts leaked hinting at the return of Modern Warfare protagonist Soap MacTavish.

Naturally, it was assumed that the game would stick with numerical iterations and take on the title of Modern Warfare 4. That narrative shifted dramatically this week, however, when Call of Duty: Ghosts was outed online by UK retailer Tesco.

Call of Duty Ghosts May 1st Reveal

Ultra high-resolution cover imaging, official logos and a PEGI provisional… it’s quite the veracious getup. The invocation of Modern Warfare 2’s iconic Lieutenant Simon Riley — both by the title and the cover soldier’s identical mask — suggests that Call of Duty: Ghosts will in fact channel some facet of the Modern Warfare storyline. Whether or not it offers a continuation on Modern Warfare 3, travels back in the series as a prequel, or vacillates in time a la Black Ops 2 are all questions we might see answered next week.

The same applies for Call of Duty’s choice of platforms. Activision’s next-gen aspirations were stated profoundly at March’s GDC with the unveiling its latest graphics engine. But while the next Call of Duty is almost assuredly in development for the Xbox 720 and PlayStation 4, it’s quite another leap to imagine the franchise leaving its billion-dollar-revenue generating acolytes on the 360 and PS3 without a current-gen option, at least for 2013.

Then again, that is the mantra of an annual series: move forward or fall behind. An exclusively next-generation Call of Duty would force the hands of many players so deeply immersed in its online universe. It would also delight the executives at Sony and Microsoft — the latter of whom will doubtless be touting a few launch titles at its next-gen Xbox presser on May 21.

What are you expecting out of the next Call of Duty’s upcoming reveal?

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Source: IGN