Former Modern Warfare devs wanted to give Call of Duty series a 'rest'

Ultimately, what caused the huge rift between Infinity Ward execs Jason West and Vince Zampella and Activision? The two say that the team's desire to work on a game other than Modern Warfare 3 made an already tense relationship even worse.

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While interest in the Call of Duty franchise remains high, many of the developers that worked on the original games have since left Activision. Many former members of Infinity Ward, the studio that worked on the incredibly successful Modern Warfare games, are heading to court over unpaid bonuses for the two games.

Activision has already paid $42 million to former members of Infinity Ward, but there's a lot more at stake. Ultimately, what caused the huge rift between Infinity Ward execs Jason West and Vince Zampella and Activision? The two say that the team's desire to work on a game other than Modern Warfare 3 made an already tense relationship even worse.

Speaking to Game Informer, Jason West discussed a contract that would have given Infinity Ward free reign to work on any game after the release of Modern Warfare 2. "That contract gave us the right to make whatever game we wanted after Modern Warfare 2. Apparently, they didn't want to live up to that."

West and Zampella believe Activision promised independence after Modern Warfare 2 so that the game would be made one way or another. "I think they just wanted the game, and were like, 'Tell these guys whatever you need to,'" West said. The pair's representing attorney Robert Schwartz added: "I don't think Bobby [Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard] ever intended to honor that until he had to honor it. They were in breach of it the day they signed the contract."

When the trial goes to court, West and Zampella will try to convince a jury that Activision wrongfully terminated the two in order to back out of paying them their originally promised bonuses. Leaked emails show a panicked Activision preparing for the fallout from firing the two, with contingency plans laid out for retaining other Infinity Ward employees.

Activision claims that West and Zampella conspired against the company by speaking with rival company Electronic Arts. (West and Zampella's new studio, Respawn, currently has a publishing deal with EA.) However, West believes that's an absurd claim. "They said, 'He orchestrated his own ­firing,'" he told the magazine. "I said, 'Don't give me 100 million ­dollars - fire me! That would be awesome,'" he added sarcastically.

Infinity Ward ultimately lost a significant talent pool to West and Zampella's new studio, and it took the efforts of another developer, Sledgehammer Games, to finish Modern Warfare 3. West and Zampella never had the opportunity to work on the game, or develop the new IP they wanted to create for Activision. "Maybe we would have done a new IP, maybe we would have done Modern Warfare 3, or maybe we would have done a new IP and then Modern Warfare 3," Zampella said.

Ultimately, Zampella thought that taking a break from Call of Duty would have been good. "Resting a brand isn't a bad thing," he said. "We saw it as protecting it. And it's like, we're always working, it's not like we're going to sit around and do nothing for a while. So it's like let's do something else that will be good for Activision, and then go back to ­that."

From The Chatty
  • reply
    May 24, 2012 5:15 PM

    Andrew Yoon posted a new article, Former Modern Warfare devs wanted to give Call of Duty series a 'rest'.

    Ultimately, what caused the huge rift between Infinity Ward execs Jason West and Vince Zampella and Activision? The two say that the team's desire to work on a game other than Modern Warfare 3 made an already tense relationship even worse.

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      May 24, 2012 5:36 PM

      I think everyone is tired of CoD, just there's idiots (fanboys) out there that want to own every CoD game so they keep throwing money at the devs, and the devs just want money and don't really care about anything else so they keep making more CoD.

      Its an infinite loop of stupidity.

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        May 24, 2012 8:10 PM

        Just stick to your basement fantasy RPGs. It really blows my mind how fucking dumb people can be. "You don't like what I like? You stupid!".

        There's a wealth of other series that just give you more of what their predecessors did, and no one complains. Skyrim was more of Oblivion, but countless idiots went out and bought that shit too and thought it was the best thing ever.

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          May 24, 2012 8:35 PM

          I'm positive people would get tired of the Elder Scrolls very fast if they came out with the same game every year and didn't make improvements.

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            May 24, 2012 9:17 PM

            And then people would stop buying the games and the developer would stop making them, just like Call of Duty.

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          May 24, 2012 11:22 PM

          I honestly can't tell which post is worse.
          Why did you even bring RPG's into it? He didn't mention them

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        May 24, 2012 8:46 PM

        ^^Well informed internet gamer right here folks.

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        May 24, 2012 9:16 PM

        I agree only neo nazis who support the military industrial complex play CoD games.

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        May 24, 2012 9:19 PM

        Could be worse...they could be CS players...I mean those guys ruined FPS games altogether, amirite? Before that we had awesome shit like Quake and DOOM and shit...moving fast and using cool weapons that weren't all really similar with neat movement tricks.

        Note: I'm not being serious I'm just pointing out that you can do this with anything...and hell a lot of people felt that way (and worse) about CS...I did back in the day before I got over it and realized that just because I hated the game it didn't mean that people who enjoyed it were wrong or that I needed to be a butthurt sperglord.

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        May 24, 2012 9:55 PM

        Please, never post again.

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        May 24, 2012 9:59 PM

        How dare they. All OF THEM.

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        May 24, 2012 11:19 PM

        Demon4231, Video Games Analyst

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          May 31, 2012 4:51 AM

          I wish they had a like button for this post.

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      May 24, 2012 7:55 PM

      thats the problem though, the sales dont tell a story that everyone is sick of it. Until sales drop they wont stop producing more COD's. Doesnt bother me as I dont play them anymore but i dont hate those that do still enjoy them. Each to their own and all that. One day I might even buy a COD re-iteration myself, if I am bored enough and there isnt anything else better at the time.

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        May 24, 2012 7:57 PM

        "To each their own" sadly goes over the head of every 90 lb. keyboard warrior on these boards.

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          May 24, 2012 8:38 PM

          I've always thought of nerds as being fat, not skinny.

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            May 24, 2012 9:12 PM

            Yeah...I always imagine them as having nasal-y high pitched voices and tons of body fat and aspergers.

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          May 24, 2012 8:48 PM

          No, people are upset because we want people to like content thats not complete shit.

          The publishers will keep making games to the lowest common denominator with boring old gameplay and stupid old engines as long as people keep BUYING.

          we argue that its garbage so we atleast get people to hear our marketplace voice to make BETTER SHIT

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            May 24, 2012 8:49 PM

            oh, and its okay bro, we dont mind that you like low skill ceiling quake3 engine console shooters. its okay.

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              May 24, 2012 9:13 PM

              In all honesty the Q3 engine is pretty rock solid when it comes to mouse input code...more than I can say for many many other games/engines out there (it also powered Quake3...which wasn't QW...but was still better than CS and most of its ilk).

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                May 24, 2012 9:16 PM

                Also its weird...all this hate for CoD is how I felt about CS way back when (before I mellowed out and realized that just because I hated CS it didn't mean I had to care about it and freak out over other people enjoying it because 'herp-a-derp its killin gaming and destroying good games like quake' even though it does make me sad that we don't have a new modern Quake game in this day and age or something along those lines).

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            May 24, 2012 9:19 PM

            Fortunately there are other games out there besides CoD.

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            May 25, 2012 11:47 AM

            The market place voice is that each COD release is the biggest entertainment launch ever every single time a new one comes out. That is the market speaking. The people complaining about COD are the whiny bitch voice.

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              May 30, 2012 6:54 PM

              Sheep, Lemmings whatever you wanna call 'em keep eating the slop up. And they will keep feeding them slop until they burst. Milk the cow for as much cash as you bleed them for. The way of Activision and EA alike.

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                June 4, 2012 5:52 AM

                And honestly, who can really blame them? They're not gamers or even in love with games like most of us. They're businessmen. If you owned a business and had the option of selling an update of a product that has made you billions or a new untested product (and at the time could only sell one), which would you choose to put on the shelf? It's unfortunate for us that many of the "suits" aren't more open-minded to a new IP, especially when it's going to be developed by an already strong and established studio. But the suits and the shareholders are interested in profits not exciting new projects.

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        May 25, 2012 7:01 AM

        Sales of the most recent CoD were lower I think. One of the analysts was saying that the tail for CoD is getting much shorter than it used to be, so while they still sell a lot on day one they dont keep selling for as long/much as they used to

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      May 25, 2012 12:32 AM

      I think there is real merit to letting a brand rest for a while. That is a HUGE reason why so much negative comments get directed to COD around the internet these days.

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        May 25, 2012 8:37 AM

        Its like a really good tub of ice cream, you can serve the first bowl and people will love it. You can probably serve a second bowl and its going to be really enjoyable. By the time the third bowl comes around the ice cream is going to be melted. You gotta put it back in the freezer once and a while.

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      May 25, 2012 6:29 AM

      I hate the COD franchise because of what it has done to other developers and the mind set of playing it safe and standardizing the FPS genre. Not every game has to be a COD clone take a chance and do something new.

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