Ex-Infinity Ward leads reunite at Respawn

Modern Warfare 2's lead designer, lead software engineer, lead environment artist, and two lead animators join Zampella and West's EA-bankrolled indie studio.

In an interview with GameSpot last week, Jason West and Vince Zampella discussed the formation of their new startup, Respawn Entertainment. Though the two ex-Infinity Ward leaders--who were fired by Activision last month--were keen to say they were hiring for their new independent studio, they dodged questions about whether or not any of their former colleagues would join them. "We'll announce the rest of the team at the appropriate time," said West.

Vince Zampella is getting the ol' Modern Warfare 2 gang back together.

That "appropriate time" wasn't long in coming. Following a flurry of resignations from Infinity Ward, many members of the top talent behind Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 are now openly touting their new gigs at Respawn. Lead designer Todd Alderman, lead software engineer Francesco Gigliotti, lead environment artist Chris Cherubini, lead animator John Paul Messerly, and lead animator Mark Grigsby now list the studio as their current employer.

Where exactly the quintet is working is unclear, though, since as of last week, Respawn didn't have a physical office. West and Zampella said they are looking at spaces in the same area of Northwest Los Angeles as Encino-based Infinity Ward, which would preclude any ex-Infinity Ward employees from having to relocate.

While many startup studios have talent, few have financial carte blanche to get set up. Not so Respawn, which has the financial backing of Activision's archrival, Electronic Arts. Less than a year after Activision hired away two top developers at internal studio Visceral Games (Dead Space, Dante's Inferno), EA Games president Frank Gibeau is not hiding the pleasure with which he and his company are bankrolling Respawn.

"We've reached an agreement where they have the seed money to get started as of today," Gibeau told GameSpot last week. "It basically gives them [a] sanctuary where they can really focus in on creative and build a blockbuster product. We're helping these guys pick themselves up and go kick some a**."

Under the terms of the seed money deal, Respawn's first title will be published by EA under its EA Partners initiative. The independent developer outreach program also distributes--or will distribute--such games as Harmonix's Rock Band 3, Valve's Left 4 Dead 2, Crytek's Crysis 2, DoubleFine's Brutal Legend, Epic Games' Bulletstorm, and Realtime Worlds' APB.

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276 comments
kima999
kima999

I hope they make GOTY and PISS on Activision, man that would be awesome

AkhilAnilkumar
AkhilAnilkumar

MW3 will probably be rocking...can't let a trailer judge things......

DYSTOPIAN_BITE
DYSTOPIAN_BITE

Ha! Maybe they won't retain the rights to their baby, which, as sad as it is, will force them to make something as good as the Call of Duty series if not just re-skin it.........which.....won't ............. sell......quandry time!

Nolidusk
Nolidusk

great now modern warfare 3 is going to suck =(

gezegond
gezegond

I'm hoping for a Sci-Fi FPS...

Anayalator408
Anayalator408

Great move on EA's part, kudos. Ha i love the name "Respawn Entertainment", so clever!!!

G-ro29
G-ro29

So who will get intellectual property of the Modern Warfare series? I'd love for West and Zampella to win the rights to the series so they can release a Modern Warfare 3 under Respawn Entertainment AND make it right (without having a company like Activision forcing them to rush the release). Screw Activision. Bungie is now officially screwed since they signed a 10 year contract with them. Power to Respawn!

Fady117
Fady117

down the drain :P especially that now their own recruiting manager left them..... lol, sucks to be Activition ryt now. Best of luck to you guys at Respawn. Unleash your true powers. And oh, a double toast to EA and Frank for their huge assistance. GO DOGS!!!!!!! (Y)(Y) ^^

twistedmalice
twistedmalice

I would love to see what there first big game would be.

Evenk93
Evenk93

Get the old Cod4 team back.. MW2 was a disappointment. Takes 3-5 years to create a new franchise. Have fun waiting.

Maxxgold
Maxxgold

Can't wait for Jason and Vince to do it again. Screw you Activison.

sensei_hEnRY
sensei_hEnRY

can't wait for Respawn's game. Hope they can make a great series like Call of Duty again

OniRaitei
OniRaitei

When West and Zampella were fired a lot of doors opened up. Talk about being in demand. They could get pretty much any job they wanted in the industry. I bet those two aren't even that mad about being fired anymore. They have a fresh start, old friends are rejoining them, and they have the money to back them. Good luck guys. I look forward to seeing what you do. And props to Frank Gibeau for his candid speech!

1blackone
1blackone

There is absolutely zero chance that Activision will ever strike gold of Infinity Ward magnitude again. Those cream of the crop companies: the Biowares, The Bethesdas, The Valves(ask Sierra), even back in NES with Hal Labs and Konami(akaBlizzardprime), they only come about once a console generation. And they threw it away because of internal bs and not wanting to "cave in". they must've never heard the saying "If MJ wants to call his own number, you better damn well let him."

d_kell411
d_kell411

Good news. I just wish these guys had the funds to do it on their own rather than running to another powerhouse game company. At least it's not Bobby Kotick now.

mms420mms
mms420mms

now end of activision coming by its foolishness.Cheer-up West and Zampella & best of luck for ur new startup.

chadbtownvt
chadbtownvt

love it, i wish i could see the reactions on the top dogs face at activision, how stupid could they be, like they thought west and zampella were gonna curl up in a ball and become homeless or something.

micko_2
micko_2

good on em, i cant wait to see what they come up with ^.^

flyin_panda
flyin_panda

at least there are some integrity among software developers

Oni
Oni

This is like a soap opera for gamers. lol

KingARod1324
KingARod1324

i wish they can make a game with a lot of challenges and not just 1st person. an all 3rd person would be nice too. Great multiplayer. and a co-op that does not only take 2 players. 8-4 players would be nice!

bigb21
bigb21

@joshua250 I thought I was the only one who wasnt brainwashed by call of duty. It is so simple and boring I just dont get how people enjoy playing it for more than a few hours it almost felt like it was a job to me I wasnt having fun playing it I just wanted the next unlock.

KuRf
KuRf

didnt have physical office...lol....address...community park/children's playground lol....anyway..here's to the downfall to NOVISION!!!

ebun100
ebun100

This doesn't surprise me. I knew with time the others were going to join West and Zampella.

Joshua250
Joshua250

@doctores143 No it's not. The Multiplayer is far from unique - like I said it sounds like you just started playing video games last week. It's not a "really good rehash.." of anything either; it basically takes Serious Sam/doom and adds war to it. It's a thinly veiled Serious Sam clone - but less branching in levels. It's linear garbage. I somewhat agree with your doom comment. But you're missing the point. Uniquely crafted enemies, non-linear maps etc. are still FAR more unique than the trash that is Call of Duty. In Call of Duty, you have a cliched story driving a conflict where you basically run from poorly crafted area to poorly crafted area and shoot at disgustingly stupid enemies. Yes, Doom had a terrible story, yes doom's enemies were stupid - but that was back in the 90s and the enemies and levels were still FAR more unique than CoD ever was/will be (now that IW has left) which is quite sad. As for Battlefield, I'm referring to the PC Battlefield - though the console versions are still superior to Call of Duty. BTW, CoD's engine was based on Quake 3. Source was based on Goldsrc which was based on Quake 2 and it has superior graphics/physics. In fact, Call of Duty doesn't have physics. It has scripted events in SP and that is it. lolol, some game. IW (possibly due to Activision's control) was a one trick pony. CoD in 2003 plays like CoD in 2009 with minor features/graphics improvements. So what does that make CoD? Oh right, it makes it Guitar Hero.

WR_Platinum
WR_Platinum

I loled at what Gibaeu said in the fourth paragraph, notice he said REALLY when he mentions about focusing on building a blockbuster product. Sounded like Activision put a lot of pressure. "It basically gives them [a] sanctuary where they can really focus in on creative and build a blockbuster product. We're helping these guys pick themselves up and go kick some a**."

itameq
itameq

Note the second half of my post is directed at activations, as iw has not been there for the entire COD franchise, i believe. If they have been o well I don't care about arcade style shooters anyway ;)

itameq
itameq

1nI=1n1Ty wARd=5uX0r. CODMW2 sucked and everyone who plays it is in denial, not wanting to admit they have been duped. they have not made a next gen game yet, instead repacking the same WW2 game they have been making for ages again and again with better graphics and more guns. The only thing new there next gen titles is a lv up system. open your eyes and demand more, i know you can and i know they can give more to instead of rationing ideas for the next game and the game after that.

MuffintopX
MuffintopX

@eyebrowless Agreed, I'd love to see these guys flex their superior multiplayer skills in a different genre. Not FPS if they can help it, but something original with the multiplayer focus that ME2 had.

eyebrowless
eyebrowless

i'm hoping for a 3rd person action adventure game from these guys with some killer multiplayer. I think if they put their creative minds to it, it could be sick

KrazzyDJ
KrazzyDJ

There's gonna be quite some competition when Activision and Respawn come up with their next products !!!

famoussasjohn
famoussasjohn

jonmar - why go away from your strengths? They are the COD franchise. They deserve it.

famoussasjohn
famoussasjohn

Sweet! Everyone knew this was going to happen. Let's hope they can release games and not get screwed over again. Hope EA will treat them better Activision did.

Muteki_X
Muteki_X

I have a feeling they'll have something different in store for us. If I recall correctly, back before the shake up at Activision, it was stated that IW had plans to pass along MW to another company so they could do something else. Who knows, it's a possibility that was even a factor in the whole mess. Wouldn't suprise me if Activision told them to do another MW, they said "no" and they were fired for insubordination. It happened before, Activision told them to do another WWII game, they said "no" and MW was born.

Muteki_X
Muteki_X

Mwa-ha-ha! Yes, suck on that one Activision. I hope they create a blockbuster that leaves Activision kicking themselves till they can't stand it.

halomonkey1_3_5
halomonkey1_3_5

hope they don't make another modern/slightly futuristic shooter, they to to either make a alternate timeline game or a really futuristic game, because now they don't have the COD license recognition, so no matter how good there first game is, if its just MW2 without the COD license, COD will dominate it.

pete_merlin
pete_merlin

Wont the game they make be similar to MW2 seeing as the same people are making it

gamefanatic544
gamefanatic544

I'm looking forward to what Respawn has in store for us.

shadow9669
shadow9669

Its be so funny if sometime along the road EA buys up the rights to Call of duty and hand it back Zampella and West.

jonmar
jonmar

Of course it will be another wartime FPS. They're a one trick pony.

Nosnitsttam
Nosnitsttam

also, i really hope their first IP isn't another wartime FPS.

Nosnitsttam
Nosnitsttam

it's funny how these guys seem to be stuck in a vicious cycle. They were at 2015 studios with EA, then they quit to form infinity ward at activision, now they were fired and go back to EA. so in another 10 years they'll quite/get fired from respawn and go back to activision and so on and so on

Hercules321
Hercules321

I hope EA gives these developers a little more freedom to make an interesting original game than Activision did. It would be cool if they made something that was much more story driven. Something similar to Bioshock in the respect that you really get involved in the world and the story as it unfolds. I dont want Respawn to just make another war FPS. Also, does this pretty much mean COD: MW3 is gonna be garbage?

yosuke_hitomi
yosuke_hitomi

its revenge time huh since they fired by activision,just hope they can made a good game compare to COD series.

Chookamuma
Chookamuma

i like to eat eggs for breakfest........Yea i din't understand any of that crap that they were talking about!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

drunkenyak
drunkenyak

EA vs Activision. This should be interesting. :P I'm looking foward seeing what these guys come up with now that their CoD days are over.

BionicBrando
BionicBrando

The nasty thought of Battlefield Duty: Bad Warfare...... *shudders*