UPDATE: Two more people have announced their departure from Infinity Ward today. They have both been added to the list below. Messerly is actually somebody who have been with IW since day 1. I should also note that Grisby was the inspiration and voice actor for the CoD 4 character, Staff Sergeant Griggs. This brings the body count to 13 as of today. I think it is fair to see we will see more over the few months.
Ever since the Infinity Ward fiasco where two studio heads, Vince Zampella and Jaxon West, were fired by Activision, people have been talking. Most of that talk has revolved around what the two of them would be doing next and about the suing and counter-suing between the duo and Activision. That conversation has changed over the past week and some of the speculation has been answered. Word has spread that several employees of Infinity Ward are resigning from their current positions. On top of that, West and Zampella announced the formation of their new company, Respawn Entertainment.
It is important to note that the people leaving Infinity Ward aren’t just a handful of their talented staff, but most of them are company leads and have worked there for many years. With Zampella and West included, it is confirmed that Infinity Ward is now 11 employees fewer than they were just a couple months ago. Let us take a look at the full list, along with their roles at Infinity Ward:
- Vince Zampella – Studio Head/CEO
- Jason West – President/Game Director/CCO/CTO
- Steve Fukada – Lead Designer
- Zied Reike – Lead Designer
- Mackey McCandlish – Lead Designer
- Jon Shiring – Programmer
- Rayme Vinson – Programmer
- Chris Cherubini – Lead Artist
- Todd Alderman – Lead Online Designer
- Francesco Gigliotti – Lead Software Engineer
- Bruce Ferriz – Senior Animator
- Mark Grigsby – Lead Animator
- Paul Messerly – Lead Character Animator
As you can see, these guys were pretty much all at the top of the company. With all of these people gone, Infinity Ward is practically walking around without its head, and maybe even a missing arm. Almost all of these people have been working at Infinity Ward for 6+ years. That means that most of these people were at the company back from Call of Duty 2, and a few of them were there from the beginning with the first Call of Duty title. A lot of experience and talent has been lost at IW.
As of right now there isn’t any word as to whether any of these people will be moving to the newly created Respawn Entertainment. Considering the company only has two employees at the moment (West and Zampella) ,they are currently accepting applications and are hiring. I think it is safe to assume that we will see at least a few of these guys on the new team, though it might be a while with the lawsuits going on. Part of what Activision is accusing West and Zampella of is trying to steal the team from Activision, so that could complicate things.
On a brighter note, Respawn Entertainment has apparently signed an exclusive publishing deal with EA Partners that sounds like a match made in heaven. EA Partners has agreed to allow the studio more freedom in the development process as well as ownership of all IPs that they create, something that Activision did not allow Infinity Ward to do.
I also want to quickly point out an article that I wrote back in November where I predicted that Infinity Ward would break away from Activision. Obviously things didn’t turn out quite as I predicted. I would have never guessed that Activision would have outright fired the two studio heads.
I can only assume that Bobby Kotick is shooting himself in the head over all of this.
[more at Shacknews]