Nintendo did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A long-running franchise in which players fight in historical, present-day and futuristic battles, Call of Duty is a crown jewel in Activision’s portfolio. It has earned more than $30 billion in revenue. The latest version, Modern Warfare II, made more than $1 billion in just 10 days.
For Nintendo, adding a violent first-person shooter game like Call of Duty to the host of titles available to play on the Switch would be an uncommon departure. The company has long been protective of the playful, family-friendly branding it has developed over decades through iconic franchises like Mario, Pokemon and The Legend of Zelda, though it does offer some more mature games and other Nintendo devices have hosted Call of Duty.
Sony and Microsoft have sparred often over a similar segment of so-called hard-core gamers, who might be more drawn to dark, story-driven games or challenging and violent combat games.
But Nintendo has built an empire marketing lovable, candy-colored characters, like the squishy pink Kirby and the smiling dinosaur Yoshi. At the beginning of the pandemic, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, a tranquil game in which players build virtual islands, became a smash hit.
Nintendo’s newest console, the Switch is significantly cheaper than Sony’s PlayStation 5 or Microsoft’s Xbox Series X, and differs from the more expensive, boxier consoles by being small and portable, so players can game on the go.
The Switch has been a huge success, selling 114 million units as of the end of September. But it has less processing power than the newest Microsoft and Sony consoles, raising questions about what kind of an experience playing Call of Duty would be on a Nintendo device.
“Nintendo has done a great job of creating a family-friendly platform that can be successful for all kinds of creators,” Mr. Spencer said, adding that there was “definitely work” to be done to make Call of Duty run well on the Switch.