Ex-Infinity Ward heads, EA announce deal

[UPDATE] New studio Respawn Entertainment formed by Jason West, Vince Zampella; EA Partners to be exclusive distributor of future titles; Activision says deal is no surprise given the pair's "improper activities."

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The ongoing drama between ousted Infinity Ward heads Jason West and Vince Zampella and ex-employer Activision has taken another twist. This morning, Electronic Arts announced a deal with the pair to be the sole distributor for their newly formed studio, Respawn Entertainment. According to Zampella, the new studio will be based in the same part of Los Angeles as Infinity Ward, which created the $3 billion Call of Duty series, including last year's $1 billion hit, Modern Warfare 2.

West and Zampella have hit the ground running with backing from EA.

While some studios search for years for a publishing partner, Respawn already has one lined up. Electronic Arts will be the sole international distributor of future titles from the studio under its EA Partners program. For a cut of the sales proceeds, the EA Partners program distributes titles from many top-tier independent developers, including Valve Software (Left 4 Dead 2), Crytek (Crysis 2), and Epic Games (Bulletstorm). The program also distributes MTV Games and Harmonix's Rock Band series, will publish Grand Theft Auto cocreator Dave Jones' massively multiplayer game APB, and has partnered with No More Heroes designer Suda-51's Grasshopper Manufacture.

Though the timing of the EA-Respawn deal was unclear, a countersuit filed by Activision on Friday accused West and Zampella of being "self-serving schemers" who embarked "on a secret trip by private jet to Northern California, arranged by their Hollywood agent, to meet with the most senior executives of Activision's closest competitor." EA was not explicitly named in the lawsuit and declined to comment on Activision's claim, but its headquarters are just south of San Francisco in Northern California. West and Zampella have signed with top Hollywood talent agency Creative Artists Agency, which also represents Steven Spielberg, Brad Pitt, Tony Hawk, and David Letterman.

[UPDATE] In a statement, Activision gave an icy response to the Respawn announcement: "This agreement comes as no surprise to Activision given the myriad of improper activities detailed in the cross-complaint filed on Friday against Jason West and Vince Zampella. We look forward to continuing to work with Infinity Ward’s deep bench of proven talent on exciting new projects."

Though no new titles were revealed, today's announcement emphasized the fact that Respawn will have full control of all intellectual properties it creates. In a lawsuit against Activision filed last month, the pair alleged they were promised control of the Modern Warfare brand before they were fired as part of an "Orwellian" investigation by Activision. In their suit against Activision, West and Zampella are asking for $36 million in damages and to be given control of said brand, which is now under control of Activision's newly formed Call of Duty division. That division plans to expand the Call of Duty IP into all sorts of new genres, including third-person adventure and casual massively multiplayer.

West and Zampella also made a point of saying that Respawn is hiring, and EA promised to give them full support in "assembling a world-class team of designers, artists, and engineers." The declaration raises the prospect of a brain drain at nearby Infinity Ward, which recently saw the departures of two top developers. Last week, Modern Warfare 2 multiplayer designer Todd Alderman and software engineer Francesco Gigliotti left the embattled shop. Both joined Infinity Ward in 2002, approximately one year before Activision acquired the studio and the first Call of Duty game shipped for the PC. Infinity Ward was created after West and Zampella left developer 2015, which assisted in the development of EA's Medal of Honor series.

Today's announcement is a major coup for EA--and also a major bit of payback. Last summer, two heads of Dead Space and Dante's Inferno developer Visceral Games, which EA created from its internal Redwood Shores studio, defected to Activision. They set up shop just down the road from EA's headquarters in Redwood City, California, and founded Sledgehammer Games, which Activision owns. Ironically, Sledgehammer's first project will be a Call of Duty-branded adventure game.

Discussion

433 comments
darivas11
darivas11

mw2 and killzone2 ...the best shooters ever...i want the people that created mw2 to make mw3...not another black ops please...the ideal shooter for me would have battlefield2 graphics and sound, mw2 playability,killzone2 adrenaline..i hate to repeat myself but...no more black ops please

KTfreak4Jesus2
KTfreak4Jesus2

And EA will fire IW within the year like it does with all its companies especially like it did with pandemic games

furious_flamez
furious_flamez

@ObiWan86 IW Has not gone to EA. The two funders and a chunk of other staff from IW have formed a new company (Respawn Entertainment. who are partnered with EA, but IW still remains with Activision awho holds full ownership of the CoD franchise. Basically, CoD is no longer in the hands of those who made it famous. This issue is also underlined by the newly formed Respawn Entertainment announcing that in the future they will have full control over any intellectual property they create, because of how they lost Call of Duty,

TheGameMerc
TheGameMerc

so glad to see that IW will still be making games. i'll never buy another treyarch developed CoD.

ObiWan86
ObiWan86

finnaly IW has gone to ea instead, this will the chance make the new medal of honor and modern warfare 3 :D

Imyourgodnow
Imyourgodnow

Seeing as how they've gone back to EA, it would be amusing if Respawn were asked to help develop the new Medal of Honor!

YIRock
YIRock

maybe respawn entertainment can make a kick-ass shooting game that will demolish Modern Warfare...then activison will realize that they made their worst decision of their lives =)

Darkpyrodelta
Darkpyrodelta

i just hope Respawn gets the rights to make MW3 and the rest of infiniti ward joins them.. I don't want any sh**ty studio like Treyarc to touch the franchise.

YoJim8obaJoe
YoJim8obaJoe

LtReviews Posted Apr 19, 2010 7:48 pm GMT @yang4200 Activisions is not at fault here. They were fired because they were suspected of dealing with EA behind their backs, and Activision was worried they would take the whole studio with them. West and Zampella denied any attempt to take the studio and run to EA, but sure enough, they conveniently end up at EA very shortly after Activision gets rid of them. Most people that lose a job tend to,you know FIND ANOTHER JOB.What do you do,sit picking your ass for a few months?Not like talent like them going to stay unemployed long with their track record

omg_i_like_pie
omg_i_like_pie

since activision mentioned third-person adventure spin offs of call of duty I'm going to start counting the days untill "Uncharted Warfare: Call of modern raiding 32" comes out

Rabastu
Rabastu

All i want is for MW3 to be put with the same team. Don't care about anything else, but Activision does kind of deserve to be in this mess. They do alot of stuff nobody likes.

yang4200
yang4200

@Ltreviews Nobody like being out of a job! west and zampella basicly just found another job.. these are tough time you know gotta support the family.. if activisions wasnt at fault the staff at iward wouldnt be dropping out 1 by 1 like that some would choose to stay... Activisons must be doing something wrong then

LtReviews
LtReviews

@yang4200 Activisions is not at fault here. They were fired because they were suspected of dealing with EA behind their backs, and Activision was worried they would take the whole studio with them. West and Zampella denied any attempt to take the studio and run to EA, but sure enough, they conveniently end up at EA very shortly after Activision gets rid of them.

LtReviews
LtReviews

As much as I dislike activision- this article shows they were right about wrongdoing on the part of West and Zampella. They were fired because they were accused of dealing with EA behind activisions backs, and planning to take their business to them. Activision still has it's studio, but without West and Zampella, it is essentially nothing. I can't say for 100 percent certainty that West and Zampella are at fault here- but the fact that the change to EA was so extremely quick does suggest that there were such suspected dealings. Activisions counter lawsuit hinged on the incident with them taking an airplane over to deal with EA behind their backs. Activision is going to win the counter-lawsuit, but they lost their biggest money makers and suffered damage to their reputation. Money talks, don't it?

yang4200
yang4200

that teach u activision :) don't screw over your employer ... It's all fair game now and good for EA to take advantage of the situation cause I know I would have

crusender
crusender

i just wish that Activision disease is not contagious... they have fusion whit Blizzard... or maybe it is because of Blizzard whit they World of Warcraft, who is not a Warcraft RTS, has give Blizzard more money that he make, whit all his other games....

DredWulf
DredWulf

Gamers..this is straight up Corporate Warfare..at it's dirtiest.

shkar
shkar

I just need great games that's it.......I don't give a sh** about the creators and who they are.......

requul1
requul1

@ ChrisR484 amen!!! EA killed football in 2006. I would totally play 2Kmadden.

Ozzie234
Ozzie234

I think this is a personal 'bout' between Moore and Kotnic actually....lol

hotfiree
hotfiree

Sweet this will mean i can buy their next game - i refused to buy call of duty as i boycotted activision many years ago ( i dont own ONE game with an activision logo in my entire ps1/2/3/psp collection ) so now i will have no problem buying these guys game :)

Ezmai_RauteZ
Ezmai_RauteZ

EA & Activision are both greedy.. EA just Milked Command & Conquer 4 (lol claiming to be an Epic conclusion to the series HAHAHA not funny), now Activision are going to milk COD with an adventure game? LAUGHING OUT LOUD!!!

Australians
Australians

good to know the boys have found a job ironicaly by there olds bosses lol

deviant74
deviant74

Activision, only 2 people should matter to you. The person who buys your games, and the person who buys your stock. In that order. So get over your bipolar BS and make them 2 happy again. Business 101. And your wife and kid don't want to hear you explain how you chopped off your arm. They want you to come home with your arm ever f ing day.

MrBubblezz
MrBubblezz

@GamerLegend10 I appreciate your opinion and will not argue about it, thanks for not cussing me out like other people would probably do for not liking Treyarch.. { Nazi Zombies is pretty cool though }

tytheman16
tytheman16

EA stock is so very interesting you would things could really only go up. I blame it on the fall of their sport games, 2K stole their spotlight (basketball).

Dante200X
Dante200X

"That division plans to expand the Call of Duty IP into all sorts of new genres, including third-person adventure and casual massively multiplayer. " LMAO. Yes, let's milk it dry before it dies. Great idea activision

ebookerd1
ebookerd1

The only thing I have against EA now is that the stock is still down from last year........... That about covers it.

aryanbrar
aryanbrar

battlefield modern bad company 3

Carpe_Noctum
Carpe_Noctum

Shouldn't hurt the quality of the CoD games really, as long as the rest of the team stayed.

jarofdirt882
jarofdirt882

EA have bucked their ideas up recently and Activision seem to have lost all sense. Times they are a changing, eh? Good on West and Zampella. Hope they get what they're due from Activision.

zombieshot115
zombieshot115

Sounds promising... as long as treyarch still makes cod games and they hav zombies in them im good but i do still really love the multiplayer modes and the single player story mode

Dynamo11
Dynamo11

EA have really shaped up recently, and I hope Respawn come out with some wicked arse games (which they will)

takreem95
takreem95

I like where this magazine is heading to. I hope Respawn Entertainment gets all the Infinity Ward employees, and gets the right to own and create future CoD games, like common, CoD Action/Adventure game? Don't ruin the game just because you know that everyone will buy the game because it says 'Call Of Duty' on the box, Yeah, I'm not going to fall for that. To tell the truth, I didn't like any Non-Infinity Ward CoD game. Infinity Ward was an expert at CoD games (notice, I say 'was') Treyarch just made a non-sense CoD game for Activision to get the Fatherly praise from their Big-Daddy Uncle Bobby.

andrew_ribbons
andrew_ribbons

Can't say i've got much against EA any more, times have indeed changed. They've started putting out really high quality PC games, without the DRM, and with loads of free DLC in some cases. Can't complain, anything that continues to support PC Gaming is in my book, a friendly one.

Boblehead2008
Boblehead2008

whatever they did to get fired from activision/infinity ward im glad they did activision is like some crack head except crack inst the problem here its money

calum1984
calum1984

Really couldn't care less noob duty:amateur warfare 2 has completly ruined the series for me ive been playing the series since call of duty 1 it was a breath of fresh air at the time, after man army medal of honour games bored us to death. Now with horrid glitchy, camp inducing maps, unbalanced weapons (at time i last played), unbalanced perks i seriously doubt i will touch call of duty again. Ive since moved back to the battlefield series (bf2 is still the best online game though cant wait for bf3). May even get the new medal of honour considering it uses frostbite engine from bad company 2

another_drew
another_drew

I'm usually a big EA hater, but after BC2 and now this. I bow to thee oh great artists of electronics.

gamer082009
gamer082009

Wow, what a drama induced soap opera..this belongs on Lifetime or something!

jamalandjboogie
jamalandjboogie

Now hopefully these guys can make a better multipalyer than MW2. Way too many glitchers and cheaters

gugler990
gugler990

now COD will still Reign. i wanted BF and MOH to rule but no.EA will be supporting COD more if West wins. Someday someones have to say ENOUGH! of this crap. and we will get enough of it someday

ricardo-sene
ricardo-sene

I really don't know witch company i hate the most, EA or Activision... really.

ChrisR484
ChrisR484

Now if only EA would get the developers of NFL 2K5 to take over for Madden then EA could take over the world and I could enjoy football again!

calm_syrface
calm_syrface

People love COD MW2 multiplayer and the whole game in general so anything that these two guys come with it's going to be great. Activision was just a distributor and now they have EA? "He's On Fire!!"

acedet
acedet

GREAT......now these guys can create another IWNET which is a complete failure for PC Gamers. No dedicated servers and no real hacker support! Most PC gamers have moved to Battlefiend BC 2

MrBubbles59
MrBubbles59

I like how they called it Respawn, when all the respawns in the COD games they make are terrible.

NYCityREP
NYCityREP

No surprise here. I wonder what Activision thought was going to happen.

ParisSun
ParisSun

Call of Duty third person adventure and MMO? Hell, I hope you guys enjoyed MW 2, that's the last quality item you'll get out this series.

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

[[EA Partners to be exclusive distributor of future titles; Activision says deal is no surprise given the pair's "improper activities."]] That Activision comment kind of reminds me of a child that is not allowed that lollipop they have been stropping for : "They're rubbish, i didnt want one anyway" lol Respawn Studios lol, very tongue & cheek : )

Ladiesman17
Ladiesman17

expanding the Call Of Duty IP??? 3rd person and Casual multi-player.. aww crap!! ActiVvision ruins COD franchise!! why they didn't using new IP!! well then!! rest in peace Activision!! ;)