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Posts Tagged ‘jason west’

Since the departure of the two heads of Modern Warfare 2 developing company, Infinity Ward, more and more people are leaving the company, making some worried the team is dead.

Though the team looks to be slowly crumbling, a member of the company says the situation is bad but not fatal.

The two former heads, Vince Zampella and Jason West, have recently formed a new developing company, Respawn Entertainment with EA.

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Activision fires studio heads at Infinity Ward, takes control of Call of Duty franchise

On top of the odd PS3 meltdown, we get this strange report last night about security showing up at Infinity Ward Offices, the developer of the best-selling Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Turns out, this was just the beginning of a massive takeover of the award-winning Call of Duty franchise.

The CEO of Activision, Bobby Kotick met with the studio heads over at Infinity Ward, Vince Zampella and Jason West, in the morning. They were soon after let go from their positions for “insubordination” and “breaches of contract.” Activision will not release any more information on the reasoning behind the firings.

So what was the point of firing the two leads of Infinity Ward, a studio that just got done releasing quite possibly the biggest game in video game history? It appears as though it is the beginning of a huge corporate take-over of a quality product, financially and unfortunately, creatively.

Tensions have been brewing between Activision and Infinity Ward for quite some time now. Activision wants a franchise like Tony Hawk and Guitar Hero where a game can be released annually — quantity over quality in order to get more money it would seem. Infinity Ward however, wants to take their time with games (crazy right?!).  Infinity Ward also showed interest in creating a new IP, but Activision was opposed to it. It would appear that Activision is afraid of risking money on a new franchise even though they are relying on only three franchises to be financially profitable.

Modern Warfare 2

Activision released some of their new strategic plans for the Call of Duty franchise shortly after the firing of Zampella and West. Activision is in talks with several developers for future Call of Duty-based games. Treyarch, the only other developer to work on Call of Duty games (Call of Duty 3 and Call of Duty: World at War) is getting set to release Call of Duty 7 this fall. But two other Call of Duty games have been announced for 2011, one with an unspecified developer and the other from Sledgehammer Games who will be “extending the franchise into the action-adventure genre.”

The last franchise Activision attempted to re-tool was the once great Guitar Hero franchise. Guitar Hero was originally developed by Harmonix and published by Red Octane. After the release of the second Guitar Hero, Activision bought Red Octane but left Harmonix out to dry, replacing them with the Tony Hawk developer Neversoft. Kotick mentioned at this year’s DICE gaming convention that “We had always known them [Harmonix] as sort of somewhat a failed developer of music games. They always had really great ideas but nothing that was really commercially viable until Guitar Hero.” The joke was on Activision when Harmonix released the ever popular and critically-acclaimed Rock Band series with MTV and EA GamesWhile Harmonix was busy revolutionizing both music games and downloadable content in video games, Neversoft and Activision were busy milking the Guitar Hero franchise with endless new games and further illustrating how to run a series into the ground.

Activision regrets not acquiring Harmonix

Activision’s new strategy for the Call of Duty series seems awfully similar to the one they used for the Guitar Hero and Tony Hawk series. They will milk this franchise for all its worth while more daring developers like Infinity Ward will release bigger and better games. In my opinion, we’ve already seen the release of the last creative Call of Duty game (Modern Warfare 2) and after Treyarch releases the seventh game (which, if it follows the route World at War took, will be very similar to Modern Warfare 2) the series will be a shell of its former self.

Best of luck to Zampella and West, I hope they can get back to developing great games again. The rest of Infinity Ward is still scheduled to release two downloadable map packs by the end of the year and are apparently an important part in the franchise’s future. The question is, will the rest of the Infinity Ward team follow their departed leaders or Activision. Only time will tell.

People from the gaming industry sound off at the developing situation. What do you think? Is it the end to the best war franchise ever or is this a great move by Activision? Sound off in the comments!

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