April 16th, 2010
Well that didn't take long. One month after being fired by Activision, suing for wrongful termination, and then being counter-sued, former Infinity Ward executives Jason West and Vince Zampella have partnered with once-rival Electronic Arts to form the glaringly obvious Respawn Entertainment.
Unlike West's and Zampella's previous studio, Infinity Ward, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Activision, Respawn is an independent studio, meaning they control most of the receipts. But the upstart signed with Electronic Arts to be the exlcusive publisher and distributor of all their games in the foreseeable future.
"For the past decade we led a great development team and poured our hearts into creating an epic game franchise [Call of Duty] that millions of fans enjoyed," said Zampella, now general manager at Respawn Entertainment, in a statement. "Today we hope to do it all over again -- open a new studio, hire a great team, and create brand new games with a new partner, EA."
West, now president of Respawn Entertainment, added, "Now that the team is in control of the games and brands, we can ensure that the fans are treated as well as they deserve."
A reported 11 other developers have left Infinity Ward since the break up. It's unclear how many (if any) have joined West and Zampella at Respawn.
Following the announcement, Activision responded by saying, "This agreement comes as no surprise to Activision, given the myriad of improper activities detailed in the cross-complaint filed on Friday against West and Zampella," adding that remaining Infinity Ward developers will continue to work on Modern Warfare 3 and other "new projects."
Last month, West and Zampella were unexpectedly fired by Activision for "insubordination" and "breach of fiduciary duty" among other things. Shortly after, the ex-Infinity Ward founders sued for "breach of contract," alleging that their termination was so Activision wouldn't have to honor "substantial royalty payments," given the commercial success of the Modern Warfare series.
Earlier this month, Activision filed a countersuit against West and Zampella, lovingly referring to the pair as "self-serving schemers." Activision alleges that the two executives "attempted to hijack" the Call of Duty franchise by delaying development of "future editions of Modern Warfare" in exchange for more royalties.
Activision also claims West and Zampella intentionally withheld paid royalties from subordinate staffers in and effort to persuade them to jump ship to Activision's "closest competitor," Electronic Arts. Both suits are pending.
Ironically, and as history so often repeats, Activision was founded in 1979 by former Atari developers, who claimed unsatisfactory compensation conditions upon their departure.
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