Activision Goes All Order 66 on Infinity Ward

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Almost five months after releasing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, a smash hit with sales numbering in excess of a billion dollars, a wave of shady goings-on and innuendo has blanketed Infinity Ward, resulting in the layoffs of two senior members, namely Vince Zampella and Jason West. For those who are unfamiliar with the pair, these two are the head honchos at Infinity Ward, so these are some startling developments indeed.

It all started yesterday with IW’s bosses heading for a meeting with Activision CEO Bobby Kotick. Zampella and West went MIA after the meeting and a bunch of “bouncer”-types showed up outside the IW offices creating a “tense situation”. Although the security personnel would not disclose why they had rolled up on IW’s office building, this did not stop the internet’s unofficial band of sleuths from digging through Linked-In, a job-history database. Vince Zampella has changed his profile to reflect his new employment status with his tenure as Infinity Ward’s CEO clearly represented in the past tense.

A new development came to light as it appears that Activision has filed a Securities and Exchange Commissions report citing charges of “insubordination” and “breaches of contracts” by two senior Infinity Ward employees. Whether or not this refers solely to Zampella and West is unclear, but the fallout from this filing is definitely hitting these two the hardest. The story continues to develop, but this is what we know for sure so far. If anything else major happens, I’ll be sure to update as necessary. These are some crazy events for sure, so what do you guys think about this? Is this Activision asserting itself over their most profitable developer, or is something else going down behind the scenes?

Update: It looks like the dust has settled, as Activision has announced plans for the future of Call of Duty that strips responsibility away from Infinity Ward and places it with an internal department focused on management of the brand, similar to what 343 Industries does for Microsoft and Halo. While Infinity Ward is still contractually obligated to provide two DLC packs to extend the longevity of Modern Warfare 2, future titles in the series will be doled out to Treyarch, who is still on track to release a CoD title this fall. Activision also announced another Call of Duty title slated for a 2011 release. The game, said to be an action-adventure title, will be developed by Sledgehammer Games, a newly formed studio consisting of two former Dead Space veterans.

What do you guys think of this whole fiasco?

Source: Kotaku and 1up

Written by

mitch@gamersushi.com Twitter: @mi7ch Gamertag: Lubeius PSN ID: Lubeius SteamID: Lube182 Origin/EA:Lube182 Currently Playing: Stardew Valley, Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam, Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords, Battlefield 4, Tom Clancy Double Feature: Rainbow Six Siege and The Division

23 thoughts on “Activision Goes All Order 66 on Infinity Ward”

  1. Is Activision retarded? Seriously? The studio makes you buttloads of money and you can the two guys in charge. I would love to see EA hire the two former IW leads to head up a new Battlefield game or the new Modern Medal of Honor series. That would be hilarious.

  2. I can already hear the screams… by the way why would they trust the future series to treyarch in case they have not realized infinity ward has always gotten much higher scores on their call of duty games

  3. At first I thought that this whole thing was just a viral marketing campaign for something, that’s how insane it is. Good to see that they’re back on their feet, though, I’ll be sure to support their new studio. I’m a sucker for startups (bonfire and robot, anybody?)

  4. Echoing Eddy, i would have to agree. Seriously, MW2 sold crazy fast and is probably the most played game of Xbox. This is the dumbest thing i’ve seen recently, including the Sonic 4 boycott

  5. But just point out the real major problem with this. “The game, said to be an action-adventure title” I cant see this working out

  6. Stupid Bobby Kotick! All he is concerned about is the money the franchise makes rather than creativity. I just hate companies who always have their minds on profits. I know this is capitalism, but it’s messed up! I HOPE BAD KARMA WILL HIT ACTIVISION WHEN ZAMPELLA AND WEST WORK IN A SUCCESSFUL INDEPENDENT COMPANY! SCREW YOU BOBBY, YOU FRANCHISE MILKING DICKHEAD!

    *takes a breather*
    /end rant

    Ok, guys. I’m calm! 🙂

  7. This is also an even stupider call because activision recently came out with a bunch of shitty titles that cost a lot of money, and MW2 covered that, i guess. And an annual CoD? I really don’t want a great game to go the same way as Madden.

  8. Didn’t Activision learn anything from their falling out with Harmonix?

    Oh, wait, they didn’t learn anything because Guitar Hero continues to outsell Rock Band because of the former’s brand recognition. They realized that they don’t really need a talented development team when they have a solid game that a less talented (and cheaper) team can simply retool year after year and will sell on the strength of its name alone.

    Remember, the vast majority of gamers aren’t keen to the differences between developers and publishers. They see the franchise title and (maybe) notice the main publisher listed on the front of the box, but they’re not going to be looking on the back to see if it was developed by Treyarch or Infinity Ward. Branding matters in gaming; it’s why people buy a new Madden title every year (even back when there were viable/superior alternatives) and keep buying crappy Sonic games.

    And if Modern Warfare 3 is actually good, nobody here will care about Infinity Ward’s fate either.

  9. Right, let me get this straight: Kotick says at the DICE summit that he has made some stupid business descisions and then does this. He must have the memory of a goldfish. He hasn’t shot himself in the foot, he’s blown his leg and part of his waist clean off. I hated him already (even after his speech at DICE) but I didn’t know his asshole-ity could reach such epic proportions. I’d rather have ‘The Producer’ or Andrew Ryan run Activision than Kotick.
    I reallly hope there is a Sessler’s Soapbox on this.

  10. Read it again, it says all of G4’s podcasts are now amalgomated into the same group (G4TV.com Originals podcasts) so that’s Sessler’s Soapbox, Feedback, MMO report and Fresh Ink all in the one podcast. iConvenience.
    Feedback is my fave btw.

  11. @ Zavyen, I think in this case, people will be able to distinguish the game differences, mostly because people were so dissapointed with CoD3. Infinity Ward is the name that sells CoD.

  12. [quote comment=”10490″]I think in this case, people will be able to distinguish the game differences, mostly because people were so dissapointed with CoD3. Infinity Ward is the name that sells CoD.[/quote]

    I have to respectfully disagree on this one. Modern Warfare is the name that sells CoD.

    If you pull 50 CoD players off the street and ask them who makes the game, I’d be surprised if more than a third of them answer “Infinity Ward.” In fact, I’d be surprised if more than half of them could even give “Activision” as an answer.

    People like us are a minority, the average game consumer just isn’t as knowledgeable as those who frequent sites like this. MW2 sold an insane number of units. The majority of the people who bought it don’t know a thing about how games get made and published; all they know is that they like Modern Warfare and they’re going to buy the new version when it comes out. Unless MW3 sucks, most people won’t even notice it’s made by a different developer than the one that made MW2.

    Now, if none of the new games coming out aren’t Modern Warfare 3, then you can expect sales to take a dive, but that will be because buyers are less likely to buy a spin-off of the series that isn’t a direct sequel. We won’t really know what the fallout from this will be until MW3 comes out. And this is not taking into account the whole “diminishing returns” element of marketing sequels.

  13. [quote comment=”10490″]@ Zavyen, I think in this case, people will be able to distinguish the game differences, mostly because people were so dissapointed with CoD3. Infinity Ward is the name that sells CoD.[/quote]

    If that’s so, why did World At War sell over 11 million copies?

  14. World At War sold that many copies, i think, because it was basically CoD4 in WW2. And i’d guess that alot of those buyers went back to playing CoD4.i suppose it does prove your point about the labels, though.

  15. [quote comment=”10499″]World At War sold that many copies, i think, because it was basically CoD4 in WW2. And i’d guess that alot of those buyers went back to playing CoD4.i suppose it does prove your point about the labels, though.[/quote]

    But the same thing will happen with whatever box they slap Call of Duty on next.

  16. Yeah i guess your right. I had thought most everyone knew that Infinity Ward made CoD great.

  17. [quote comment=”10513″]Yeah i guess your right. I had thought most everyone knew that Infinity Ward made CoD great.[/quote]

    Well a ton of people were whining about Treyarch making World At War, but they still bought it.

    Not me. I just rented it.

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