Insider says, \"Infinity Ward is dead.\"

by VGChartz Staff, posted on 16 April 2010 / 6,218 Views

West and Zampella, Infinity Ward heads and people responsible for last year's blockbuster Modern Warfare 2, were fired recently (if you hadn't heard).  They've later formed a new studio - Respawn Entertainment - and sued Activision for withholding all the MW2 royalties and for being jerks, generally.  Of course, Activision countersued, claiming that West and Zampella were trying to undermine both Activision and Infinity Ward.  What a mess.

Pachter claimed that twenty more people would leave, and he's not so far off.  Look at the list of missing persons so far, in the form of edited MW2 credits from GamePro.com:

An understandably anonymous Infinity Ward insider had this to say about the flailing studio today:

"IW as you know it is dead...and it will continue to crumble. There are a lot more veterans who are definitely going to leave."

Of Activision management, the source also added:

"They never saw this coming. They can't believe what's going on. At first they gave us some bull**** about moving up payments of all the money they owe us to sooner increments. That was when [designer] Todd [Alderman] and [engineer] Frank [Gigliotti] left. But with the announcement of Respawn and all the people leaving, they just got their heads in their hands.

... They fired the two most amazing leaders we've ever seen, and then shafted us all out of a lot of money that was promised to us...there is nothing they can do to gain our trust or respect. And I'm pretty sure they know it now.""

Karma sucks, eh?  We'll see what Activision has to say on the matter shortly, I'm sure.  The future of IW looks questionable, at best.

Source: Kotaku


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58 Comments

Ghutto (on 19 April 2010)

Honestly, I do not care about IW. Modern Warfare only draws attention because it is "modern". In terms of competence and quality, Treyarch is much more than the IW, and they have far fewer people working. Reflex is a great example of competence and quality. They got an incredible result in this port of an "HD game". See the irony: signed by IW. The same one that once said that Modern Warfare never would run on the Wii.


OmegaRugalv3 (on 19 April 2010)

"So IW the next Rare?" Yes ... sad but yea.


.jayderyu (on 19 April 2010)

Happy groups employees do not scheme. This is a result to the treatment of IW employees. Also contract's may be legally binding, but it should be not that Legal does not mean Ethical. Sometimes people need to consider that sanctioned is not always a good thing. Josef Mengele was perfectly in his rights because the government sanctioned him and was essentially legal to do what he did? My experience with contracts is that while legal, they are rarely ethical.


binary solo (on 19 April 2010)

"kupomogli says: @naznatips. There's nothing wrong with seeking other employment contracts as long as you don't enter an agreement. It's like looking for another job. How would you feel if you were looking for another job while still working for your current job and they just out and fired you because you're looking for a different employer." Well no one would like it, but the employer would have very good groounds on which to fire someone under those circumstances. And the higher up the company food chain the greater the justification for the sacking. An employer has 2 options when they find out a senior employee is looking to jump ship, either given them a helping hand to leave sooner, or try to convince them to stay. Activision went for option 1. Fair enough I say. As to the withholding of royalties and who owns the CoD brand, that's a different matter and one that only the courts can decide. I'm not going to be pro or anti Activision on this. Sometimes the big guy really is shafting the little guy, and other times the little guy is putting their hand out when they have no legal or contractual justification. The IW boys might have a moral claim on CoD but morality and business simply don't mix.


Grahamhsu (on 18 April 2010)

crazy...Bobby must be upset


heedstone (on 18 April 2010)

Haha, well done Activision! You really do suck!


Slavedemonxi (on 18 April 2010)

Thanks Activision...


Sri Lumpa (on 18 April 2010)

jbee: IW is OWNED by Activision so while they have a degree of independence Activision is still the boss. Respawn Studio is, so far, an independent studio (like Infinity Ward was when founded). It remains to be seen if it will remain so but if west/Zampella (called in Campella in my previous post, oups) earned enough money while at IW to complete their first game AND manage to keep the magic that made COD in general and MW in particular be successful then chances are good that they will have the financial base to remain independent for a long time, kinda like Valve managed to remain independent thanks to the success of their first game.


Sri Lumpa (on 18 April 2010)

Naznatips:"Do you guys have any idea what happened?" No we don't but then neither do you. It's like a divorce where both parties hate each other and want custody of the kids (the Modern Warfare brand name) and each accuse the other of the worst things. The people you are criticising take the West/Campella side and seem ot accept it without question while you seem to take the Activision side and seem to accept it without question so how exactly are you different from them? And I am not any different as I know little about the story except the tidbits in the press. But I see nothing wrong in West/Zampella looking for another job for themselves and them doing so after being fired proves nothing (did Activision believe they would wilfully remain unemployed so as not to give false impressions?). But if they did try to encourage a mass defection from IW to a new studio while they were still employed there (as opposed to leaving in disgust at the way they were treated by Activision and having some of their former employees decide _of their own volition_ to follow suit) then I agree that this would be illegal, more so as they are officers of IW and thus have more responsibilities and legal duties toward the well being of the company.


cgkc17 (on 18 April 2010)

Haha, about time. Activision has no where to go but down now.


kupomogli (on 17 April 2010)

@naznatips. There's nothing wrong with seeking other employment contracts as long as you don't enter an agreement. It's like looking for another job. How would you feel if you were looking for another job while still working for your current job and they just out and fired you because you're looking for a different employer. If Infinity Ward had another active contract to develop another game while they were working for Activision then it's breach of contract. However, this is only if Activision's contract states that they cannot hold other employment. Activision has been a terrible company in recent years. They had so many IPs that they screwed because Guitar Hero and WoW were big sellers so they didn't care about pretty much all their other IPs. They sold off most of what they owned or allowed their use of it to expire(Scarface, fu** Activision for canceling the sequel on announcement.) Activision is only receiving what they deserve. Like someone else said, I also didn't care for EA because buying up so many different developers, etc, but when these developers were still allowed to create whatever they want with what seems like whatever kind of budget they wanted, then who really cares? EA is delivering good games and that's really all that matters.


jbee02 (on 17 April 2010)

I had no idea that Activision and Infinity Ward were so closely connected that Activision could fire Infinity Ward employees. I my self hope of one day owning my own video game developer studio. I'll keep this in mind when signing contracts with publishers. I won't ever give a publisher the power to fire me or any of my employees. But regardless of whether they had a justified reason or not for firing these people, doesn't change the fact that it was a rash decision. They might have just destroyed Infinity Ward and seriously jeopardize they main money crop the Call of Duty series. Sure they still got Treyarch but they are not nearly as good as Infinity Ward and every one knows it. Whether or not Treyarch has the talent to keep the series going as it has been is questionable. I'm sure they can probably sell on the Call of Duty name alone for a while but that won't last forever. Regardless of whether they are going to win these legal struggles or not won't prevent the likely losses they'll suffer in the long run do to Infinity Wards destruction.


Strike24 (on 17 April 2010)

"Wow, people are really placing Activision as the bad guy in this? Do you guys have any idea what happened? The two Infinity Ward developers in question were seeking other contracts, while still being paid by Activision. Now you'll say "But Naz, Activision was trying to make them into a Modern Warfare team only and refusing to allow them creative freedom." This may be true, but Infinity Ward's contract was up this year anyway. They had no obligation to sign up again, if they didn't want to be shoehorned into Call of Duty games forever. What they did was dirty, underhanded, and greedy. If an employee in a country with more loyal business relationships, like Japan, did this they would be branded unemployable for the rest of their lives. Activision may not have been the best boss, but the way for West and Zampella to handle this would have been to simply do their jobs until their contract was up, then sign with a new company. Now they are going to get sued for hundreds of millions of dollars on the breach of contract and company damages, and their new studio doesn't even have half their original staff. I know it's easy to hate the big bad publisher and support the little innocent developer, but this really is not the situation here. Please be educated on the issues before you attack Activision for this." The thing is, you're taking what the statement was from Activision to heart, which for any company is something that time and time again is proven that it's almost never the full story. Sounds a little too convincing that they basically didn't make a profit off the great selling MW2 because of terrible decisions in other areas (like driving GH into the ground with oversaturation) and now they are looking for excuses to ditch paying an entire development division who are owed substantial royalties. To not get paid for work done is a serious offense, one punishable by law. However, law is a tricky thing, and trying to pull the strings around that is relatively easy for any competent lawyer.


Snypershawn (on 17 April 2010)

Naz I see what you're saying but you do know that activision does this to all its employees? look what happened to guitar hero creators almost an identical scenario. the good news from this is we the gamers get a better product when the creators make something new. Rock band, and now whatever Respawn creates.


naznatips (on 17 April 2010)

Wow, people are really placing Activision as the bad guy in this? Do you guys have any idea what happened? The two Infinity Ward developers in question were seeking other contracts, while still being paid by Activision. Now you'll say "But Naz, Activision was trying to make them into a Modern Warfare team only and refusing to allow them creative freedom." This may be true, but Infinity Ward's contract was up this year anyway. They had no obligation to sign up again, if they didn't want to be shoehorned into Call of Duty games forever. What they did was dirty, underhanded, and greedy. If an employee in a country with more loyal business relationships, like Japan, did this they would be branded unemployable for the rest of their lives. Activision may not have been the best boss, but the way for West and Zampella to handle this would have been to simply do their jobs until their contract was up, then sign with a new company. Now they are going to get sued for hundreds of millions of dollars on the breach of contract and company damages, and their new studio doesn't even have half their original staff. I know it's easy to hate the big bad publisher and support the little innocent developer, but this really is not the situation here. Please be educated on the issues before you attack Activision for this.


Kenoid (on 17 April 2010)

Why does activision have to do that?


NinjaV (on 17 April 2010)

there probably all going to leave to go to respawn (pretty funny how the new company is called respawn!lol) After they all get paid they will probably all leave to respawn entertainment and start a new ip.


NeoRatt (on 17 April 2010)

This just goes to show that bullying studios is not a smart idea. The most important asset of any studio is the people. So when you make people changes you had better be sure the rest of the studio likes the change, otherwise they will all leave and you will have nothing left. Studios are best left to do stuff on their own. Activision made a bad mistake here. But, then again, I think Activision is turning into a monster and Electronic Arts is no longer the bad guys...


haxxiy (on 17 April 2010)

Tsk. Poor IW.


horse8darider (on 17 April 2010)

I wonder what'll come of Respawn Entertainment... Keep us informed, VGChartz.


Shin Megami (on 17 April 2010)

I see a lot of problems coming to Activision: - Lost its best developer: You can turn as you want to, for Activision this is a PR nightmare and also a big loss of know-how - Only a couple of franchises: GuitarHero is going down the hill, DJ Hero didn't sell good, TonyHawk was a flop, let's not talk about Wolfenstein... I also don't think their new IPs (Singularity) will sell very good. What's left? WoW and MW. But can two franchises cover the costs of a huge enterprise? Wouldn't be surprised if Activision would come in big financial problems...


Stanislav.Ten (on 17 April 2010)

I preferred WaW to MW2 anyway. Chances are we'll see MW3.. Again.. With some alternations. Hopefully they will do something new for once rather than recycled trash that supposedly Activision "forced" upon them.


Grey21 (on 17 April 2010)

@hunter_alien, EA got their act together? I've not seen any change, all the old dirty tricks are still being used they just added a new one. Now we have to get our EA games new from a store or miss out on some of the content. So if you get an EA game 2 years after its release you have to pay another 15 dollars to get an acces key to some of the content. As for Infinity Ward, it is more then the sum of its parts. If it is enough we can't say until they've released another game.


hunter_alien (on 17 April 2010)

Finally... man I hope that Activision will start to go down from this point on. That would be a dream comming true. EA was in a similar position a couple of years ago, but thank god they got their act together ;-) Now lets see if Activision/Blizzard can do it to...


Naum (on 17 April 2010)

So IW the next Rare?


heruamon (on 17 April 2010)

IW is dead, imho...sure, not EVERYBODY will leave, but all the senior leadership will bolt to Respawn, and they are going to take all of that technical know-how...even the positive spin comments were pretty horrible. People will get their MW2 checks and leave...talk about srewing the pooch...Honestly...Kotick's days might be numbered over this. Activision-Blizzard was basically MW2 (COD series) games and anything Blizzard...huh-oh!


AquariusCold (on 17 April 2010)

From the outside looking in, you would think the dream would be to have an independent developer add become apart of a major publisher, but keep there name. The members of Infinity Ward basically got fired or resigned from a company they created. Make an independent develper want to remain independent from fear of the publisher taking over how your team operates. It's the "my way or the highway" kind of mentality I see happening here,


Fufinu (on 17 April 2010)

According to the credits the receptionist is stil there! Yeay!


down-down-down-down- (on 17 April 2010)

so? not modern warfare 3?


Raze (on 17 April 2010)

Sooo.. basically all COD/MW games will be made by Treyarch from now on then?


zarx (on 17 April 2010)

so most of the leads left eh and the majority of the writing staff, but all the grunts are still there I bet Activision is hoping that they learnt all the leads had to teach.


KylieDog (on 17 April 2010)

You should probably update this news to reflect the update in the source.


PeteyPeeps (on 16 April 2010)

well ... they havent lost too much ... but the problem for them is, they have lost alot of important people


Mr. sickVisionz (on 16 April 2010)

Activ already has the next two years of Call of Duty sowed up. 2010 will see the Treyarch game and 2011 will have the game from the makers of Dead Space. The pressure is on for the new IW. Everyone assumes they are/will be talentless hacks. It'll be interesting to see how it goes. Pressure can bust pipes or it can get things moving.


C_Hollomon (on 16 April 2010)

Also good job by EA for getting those guys. I hope EA don't screw them over also.


Aprisaiden (on 16 April 2010)

@Naznatips - We may be the minority but with all these internal problems at Infinity Ward and high staff turnover in key positions its pretty clear that the next IW game will see a decline in quality. Not to mention turning core gamers positive word of mouth about the modern warfare series into negative word of mouth will hurt sales. Sure the games will still sell a shitload for a while, but just look at what Activision manged to do to Guitar Hero... the same is going to happen to Call of Duty games.


Vermise (on 16 April 2010)

thats greed for ya! one of the best selling games of all time and they can't keep promises <.<; don't expect a MW3 or at lest a good one!


TKC-Muzzer (on 16 April 2010)

Naz, the real gamers who keep the industry going will know who they are. 25% of what MW2 has sold is alot and without them Activision are in trouble as the series will go backwards. Activision deserve all they get, they have become a money grabbing, money seeking company who are not in for the gaming. The head who come out with that rubbish not so long ago is the kind of guy the industry does not need.


naznatips (on 16 April 2010)

Psh, the masses don't know who the heck Infinity Ward even is. They just buy the game for the Call of Duty and Modern Warfare labels. Hell, even among those who do recognize who Infinity Ward is there will only be a tiny minuscule fraction who actually know it's not the same developers it was before. We on the internet who follow such news don't even represent 25% of the people who buy Modern Warfare games. Good luck to the new studio... they'll need it far more than Activision, as an unknown studio who needs to find capital and develop their own new IP from the ground up.


C_Hollomon (on 16 April 2010)

That's fucked up what Activision did to them. I don't like them now and I'm not buying they games, maybe only used games from ebay so that they don't profit from me. West and Zampella seemed to be good leaders for IW. People are leaving cause they left. It's just like when MJ left the Bulls when Phil left. MJ didn't really want to play for another coach cause Phil was the best to him. I wish the people luck to whereever they go next.


Chairman-Mao (on 16 April 2010)

This is amazing! It basically confirms Call of Duty is dead! Call of Duty 7 (Treyarch) might do all right in sales but when the time comes for Modern Warfare 3 they will be screwed!


Imaginedvl (on 16 April 2010)

"That is really interesting And as long as Blizzard is with them...they won't fall." True. It will be also interresting to see who is going to work on the next Modern Warfare game if Infinity Ward closes (which would be simply the best for Activision). I'm kinda excited about it because it will bring fresh new ideas to the fanchise.


luvtospooge (on 16 April 2010)

And as long as Blizzard is with them...they won't fall.


luvtospooge (on 16 April 2010)

That is really interesting.


Imaginedvl (on 16 April 2010)

"Well there's always Guitar Hero lol! :D" You are laughing at your own stupid "joke". You realize Activision/Blizzard owns a LOT of other very good games including World of Warcraft, Starcraft 2, Diablo 3 (2011/12), Guitar Hero. Also people blasting Activision because of what those two idiots (West and Zampella) did and putting the fault on Activision are just pathetic. You just look at Modern Warfare 2 but you seems to ignore they already did that before with EA for your information and now they did it to Activision and went back to EA, rince and repeat... Activision/Blizzard has nothing to fear for their future...


superbeast1370 (on 16 April 2010)

werent the fired founders fighting for the "modern warfare" franchise?


FranTic91 (on 16 April 2010)

Aaaand Captain Obvious saves the day once again. In all seriousness...I usually wouldn't blame the phailure of a company on one person, but ever since Bobby Kotick stepped it...Everythings' been falling apart subsequently after it was successful...Maybe that's hyperbole, but it's like the opposite of what happened to it EA during the beginning of the current generation...When they started being...Awesome.


DOLBYdigital (on 16 April 2010)

Good stuff, hopefully the talented devs will have some more creative freedom and not get stuck doing the same old junk over and over again. I hope more and more devs go indie and screw over these publishers, you may not agree but it would lead to much more variety and risk taking in video games which is something we need desperately imo :)


Salnax (on 16 April 2010)

Activision is going to be very interesting to watch for the next couple of years.


Goodfella (on 16 April 2010)

Activision will decay. The $25 horse is not a coincidence.


Intendo21 (on 16 April 2010)

Yes! No CoD MW 3!


JGarret (on 16 April 2010)

I wonder if this might end up hurting Activision in a big way, at least in the mid/long term....if it does hurt them, I imagine a lot of gamers (well, at least a lot of those who frequent gaming forums) will be pleased.


toMsonsLLC (on 16 April 2010)

Activision is pathetic. None of these people are getting bonus' because of greed. Of course they should leave, you work your ass off to break records, just to get nothing in return. It's pretty f**ked up no matter how you slice the pie!


RaptorGTA (on 16 April 2010)

Its a shame really...


STEKSTAV (on 16 April 2010)

Well there's always Guitar Hero lol! :D


thekitchensink (on 16 April 2010)

@SecondWar: Never mind that, it'll affect the studio's ability to produce Modern Warfare 3.


SecondWar (on 16 April 2010)

This might hit activision in their wallet aswell, as all the IW staff quiting might affect the studios ability to produce more DLC for MW2, as well as the quality and timing of any DLC


Seece (on 16 April 2010)

It's not often we get a bit of drama in the gaming world! This is pretty interesting to follow.