"We were one deal point away from signing [Respawn]," he said. "I saw [West and Zampella] recently, and they said it was that only one deal point, one that I wouldn't cave on." Apparently the one point was the intellectual property. THQ was looking to build its IP library, and the newly formed Respawn refused to give up ownership of it.
Zampella confirmed Bilson's comments. "I've known Danny Bilson for many years, so THQ was one of the publishers who approached us," he said. "We had serious discussions with them. As for the IP ownership, frankly, after what we'd just been through with Activision, owning the IP we were going to create was important to us. Unfortunately, THQ did not want to agree to that."
Ultimately, EA Partners struck a deal with Respawn, agreeing to give the studio control over the IP. Bilson seems skeptical about EA's strategy, but says he's still interested in working with Respawn. "I love those guys, I respect those guys," he said. "Maybe down the road we can strike another deal somewhere where it goes our way."
We have to wonder how this revelation meshes with Activision's accusation of conspiracy from late last month. If Respawn was hearing offers from various publishers, it's hard to see how they were in cahoots with EA to ruin Infinity Ward all along. But maybe that's what they want you to think.