Modern Warfare Lead Dev Leaves Infinity Ward

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Modern Warfare Lead Dev Leaves Infinity Ward

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Information from the Activision/Infinity Ward showdown continues to surface, and the second potential casualty is the studio's big boss Vince Zampella himself.

More from Infinity Ward's Night of the Long Knives: A sharp-eyed Kotaku reader spotted that IW CEO and Modern Warfare lead Vince Zampella's LinkedIn page lists his involvement with the popular developer as having ended - as of March 2010.

This would likely make Zampella the second of the two senior IW employees mentioned in Activision's SEC filing, who have been accused of "breaches of contract and insubordination." Rumor has it - and again, this is only rumor, not fact, so don't preach this like it's gospel - that the two were seeking to negotiate publishing agreements with a publisher that wasn't either Activision or Electronic Arts.

There must have been something serious going down at Infinity Ward yesterday: You don't send bouncers to company premises lightly, especially when said company was the one behind making you your biggest game ever. Activision may be greedy, but the ones calling the shots aren't stupid.

With this, it appears that the two most senior members of Infinity Ward - Zampella and CTO Jason West - are no longer with the company, whether having been terminated or having left of their own volition. What this means for Infinity Ward and the Call of Duty series remains to be seen.

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I know what happened...

A group of gamers have taken over the world! Infinity Ward is just the start! Soon, Hollywood will burn for their horrible attempts at video-game films! Then all popular people at school will be killed!

And then, it will all be 1984 again!

Holy fuck what is going on? And I also hear that Valve is contemplating development for the ps2.

If the rumours are true they could have almost lost Activision one of their biggest games of the year.

Still seems like one of those 'evil corporation' stories though. This is one of the most interesting game related stories of recent!

Lets hope this ends like the Westwood incident, with most of the dev leaving and reforming a new studio, with the sponsorship of a less evil developer.

Hubilub:
I know what happened...

A group of gamers have taken over the world! Infinity Ward is just the start! Soon, Hollywood will burn for their horrible attempts at video-game films! Then all popular people at school will be killed!

And then, it will all be 1984 again!

*cocks dual samurai edges* Groovy.

I really have no idea why Activision would do this at all. From an entrepreneurial perspective you would need a REALLY good reason to sack your most valuable employees.

Sneaklemming:
Lets hope this ends like the Westwood incident, with most of the dev leaving and reforming a new studio, with the sponsorship of a less evil developer.

I'd hope that would happen to Blizzard so I can buy their games again with a clean conscience xD
Then again there's probably already a lot of small Koticks running around on their executive floor he taught what the difference between a "bed and balance sheet" is.

MrPop:
If the rumours are true they could have almost lost Activision one of their biggest games of the year.

I hadn't heard about this, could you elaborate?

Mordwyl:
I really have no idea why Activision would do this at all. From an entrepreneurial perspective you would need a REALLY good reason to sack your most valuable employees.

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"Because I CAN."

I don't know which scenario is more likely.
"No... NO! Stop it! Stop being so successful!"
or
"Look what I found when I was doing your laundry. It's a beret. You've been seeing that Ubisoft whore again! GET OUT."

Mordwyl:
I really have no idea why Activision would do this at all. From an entrepreneurial perspective you would need a REALLY good reason to sack your most valuable employees.

All the people at the executive level have enough money to never work the rest of their lives, and most of them have had it from birth. None of them give a crap about the corporation except as it furthers their personal agenda. Someone decided the lowly developer was getting too big for his britches and had to be smacked down, damn the results to the rest of the company.

Are Activision attempting to hand the whole CoD franchise to Treyarch? That would be weird.

"Leaves"? I heard he was fired.

Hubilub:
I know what happened...

A group of gamers have taken over the world! Infinity Ward is just the start! Soon, Hollywood will burn for their horrible attempts at video-game films! Then all popular people at school will be killed!

And then, it will all be 1984 again!

Big Brother is watching! Also yeah I suppose this is good news

I doubt the 2 guys quit if there was a contingent of 'ard looking bouncers sent in, this just gets weirder

John Funk:
Rumor has it - and again, this is only rumor, not fact, so don't preach this like it's gospel - that the two were seeking to negotiate publishing agreements with a publisher that wasn't either Activision or Electronic Arts.

In Activisions SEC, under "Risk Factors"...

A significant portion of our revenues has historically been derived from products based on a relatively small number of popular franchises and these products are responsible for a disproportionately high percentage of our profits. For example, our top three franchises, Call of Duty, Guitar Hero, and World of Warcraft, accounted for approximately 68% of our net revenues for the year ended December 31, 2009. We expect that a limited number of popular franchises will increasingly produce a disproportionately high percentage of our revenues and profits. Due to this dependence on a limited number of franchises, the failure to achieve anticipated results by one or more products based on these franchises may significantly harm our business and financial results.

Put that in perspective.

One of The Big Three "might" be leaving your Activision. What are you gonna do?

Anyone find it slightly hilarious that not 2 weeks ago, Kotick was apologizing for being a dick.

You know Bobby, confessing and repenting are not one and the same.

hansari:

Mordwyl:
I really have no idea why Activision would do this at all. From an entrepreneurial perspective you would need a REALLY good reason to sack your most valuable employees.

"Because I CAN."

Despite what you may think of The Devil Mr. Kotick, he's not stupid. Fucking with the studio which made one of the biggest selling video games without good reason isn't likely. Kotick's evil, but it's unlikely he'd put his money in jeopardy unless he was damage controlling from a potentially worse scenario.

MurderousToaster:
Are Activision attempting to hand the whole CoD franchise to Treyarch? That would be weird.

after MW2, i'd say that'd be good.
IW can kiss my matte, furry ass.

hansari:

John Funk:
Rumor has it - and again, this is only rumor, not fact, so don't preach this like it's gospel - that the two were seeking to negotiate publishing agreements with a publisher that wasn't either Activision or Electronic Arts.

In Activisions SEC, under "Risk Factors"...

A significant portion of our revenues has historically been derived from products based on a relatively small number of popular franchises and these products are responsible for a disproportionately high percentage of our profits. For example, our top three franchises, Call of Duty, Guitar Hero, and World of Warcraft, accounted for approximately 68% of our net revenues for the year ended December 31, 2009. We expect that a limited number of popular franchises will increasingly produce a disproportionately high percentage of our revenues and profits. Due to this dependence on a limited number of franchises, the failure to achieve anticipated results by one or more products based on these franchises may significantly harm our business and financial results.

Put that in perspective.

One of The Big Three "might" be leaving your Activision. What are you gonna do?

Again, they already fired most of the people that were involved with Guitar Hero mere 2 weeks ago (February 13th or so I believe) because they didn't deem it profitable anymore (bad sales after ~25 titles):

Apparently Activision Blizzard has been hard at work over the last few days, laying off or even closing several studios: Some of the affected are:

Radical Entertainment (Prototype, Scarface, Hulk: Ultimate Destruction) - fired over 90 employees (half of the staff),
Luxoflux (True Crime, Kung Fu Panda, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen) - shut down,
Neversoft (Guitar Hero, Tony Hawk, Spider-Man) - fired over 50 employees,
RedOctane (Guitar Hero and Plastic Instruments) - shut down,
Underground Development (Guitar Hero: Van Halen, BMX XXX, Freestyle BMX, X-Men) - shut down

http://kotaku.com/5469802/prototype-developer-radical-cut-in-half
http://kotaku.com/5469858/activision-takes-axe-to-guitar-heros-neversoft-shuts-down-luxoflux
http://kotaku.com/5470149/activision-shutters-guitar-hero-creators-gh-van-halen-developers

I can only hope that some of the Infinity Ward people leave by themselves, but I don't really see that happening. Also Activision Blizzard sadly has enough money and pull to get over any of this easy with only World of Warcraft alone...

Amnestic:
Despite what you may think of The Devil Mr. Kotick, he's not stupid. Fucking with the studio which made one of the biggest selling video games without good reason isn't likely. Kotick's evil, but it's unlikely he'd put his money in jeopardy unless he was damage controlling from a potentially worse scenario.

Ain't that the truth. The man wouldn't know how to make a good game if his life depended on it, but he's a hell of a business man. I can't wait for an official statement to see just what the hell he was thinking. Though I'm probably waiting in vain, because the most we're likely to ever hear is "Executives X and Y have been let go from their employment at Infinity Ward due to generic excuse Z. Activision will not comment on the specifics at this time."

damn that sucks

but those two IW employees could have breach their agreement and was looking at another publisher that is not EA or Activision.

Maybe Square Enix,Capcom,Sega maybe even THQ could be their next publisher(or Sony??)

Night of the long knives? Dammit, Funk, don't remind me of Nazi history! I have a tough enough time learning from the literal wicked witch of the west, I just wish to forget about it outside of school.

Besides that, ooh! this is interesting news, I hadn't heard of this before.

Just makes you wonder what is going down...

Well...considering that Infinity Wards next game isn't Call of Duty related, it's not crazy to assume that because they're developing a new franchise, certain members of the IW team are deemed "expendable" in the eyes of the bosses.

If this rumor is true, than in the original thread I called it, suggesting that IW was trying to split from Activision, which while not 100% true, can we call working on new publishing contracts starting to split from them?

ddq5:
I don't know which scenario is more likely.
"No... NO! Stop it! Stop being so successful!"
or
"Look what I found when I was doing your laundry. It's a beret. You've been seeing that Ubisoft whore again! GET OUT."

Uh i take offence to that. Montreal people don't wear berets. They just speak with dirty french. and smoke a lot. Berets are for the french sir.

OT: If i made CoD 6 or 12 or whatever one it is i woulda quit after it made all that money to. Then i would made my own game thats original and unique.

ddq5:
..."Look what I found when I was doing your laundry. It's a beret. You've been seeing that Ubisoft whore again! GET OUT."

That just wins. I almost never laugh at comments on a thread, maybe a chuckle, but this one got me good. Funny stuff.

As for this crazy story--I have no idea what to make of it. It sounds like some crazy shady conspiracy cover up plot mixed in with corporate mis-steps. I don't think I have heard of bouncer type guys ever showing up to a company to fire people unless those fired where acting violently. Violence has not been reported thus far.

Reading this story makes me think that Infinity Ward, or a group of employees from I.W., was getting ready to jump ship and try and branch out else where. I.W. has always seemed unwilling to want to do the same stuff if it is not challenging them with new problems and creative flexibility. Yeah they have done war to death, but they seem to always want to put more stuff in their games with each new iteration. Maybe they saw their creative juices being channeled too much into one specific thing and I.W. saw this as threatening to what they love doing.

Heck, what do I know though? Maybe these guys just feel like riding in gold-plated dirigibles for the rest of their lives and felt going out in a dark unknown fashion would be a fitting exit.

Donnyp:
Uh i take offence to that. Montreal people don't wear berets. They just speak with dirty french. and smoke a lot. Berets are for the french sir.

Yes indeed, berets are for the French, like the very French Ubisoft with headquarters in Montreuil-sous-Bois, France. While they do have a Montreal HQ that worked on a bunch of their big games like the AssCreeds, their main base of operations is, in fact, in France.

kotick must REALLY want that gold toilet in his bathroom

Since you Godwined this subject already, I think that the second gulf war might be a better analogue. One power hungry and egoistical power flexing is muscles against a weaker but no less a dickhead former minion over a trivial slight.

"Thanks for one of the best selling games of the year Infinity Ward, but you don't deserve any recognition so we're gonna fire you all and take the franchise for ourselves! HAHAHAH!"

^Activision.

hansari:
In Activisions SEC, under "Risk Factors"...

A significant portion of our revenues has historically been derived from products based on a relatively small number of popular franchises and these products are responsible for a disproportionately high percentage of our profits. For example, our top three franchises, Call of Duty, Guitar Hero, and World of Warcraft, accounted for approximately 68% of our net revenues for the year ended December 31, 2009. We expect that a limited number of popular franchises will increasingly produce a disproportionately high percentage of our revenues and profits. Due to this dependence on a limited number of franchises, the failure to achieve anticipated results by one or more products based on these franchises may significantly harm our business and financial results.

Put that in perspective.

One of The Big Three "might" be leaving your Activision. What are you gonna do?

As much as it may suck to side with Activision on this one, if this is the case (which seems like the most logical reason) you can't really fault them. I mean what if some heads decided they were going to take Assassins Creed 3 somewhere else, or not make it. Ubisoft would be completely in the right to take action against them to ensure their continued control of what is technically their property.

Kotick is evil, yes. He is also very good at what he does, and I suspect this is less of a "KOTICK SMASH!" and more of a "We stand to lose a major money maker, and I need to ensure we retain control while showing our investors we deal with such issues swiftly as soon as they arise."

ForgottenPr0digy:
damn that sucks

but those two IW employees could have breach their agreement and was looking at another publisher that is not EA or Activision.

Maybe Square Enix,Capcom,Sega maybe even THQ could be their next publisher(or Sony??)

THQ or Sony (SECA), maybe, but I don't think IW would move to a Japanese publisher. Just a feeling.

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