Activision brass took the nuclear option at Infinity Ward in March, firing studio cofounders Vince Zampella and Jason West over charges of breach of contract and insubordination. Though the reaction was strong in the games press, analysts largely shrugged at the decision. A consensus said that the move wouldn't have much impact on Activision's bottom line, unless it sparked a brain drain of talent at Infinity Ward.
Though it's too early to call it a brain drain, five senior Infinity Ward staffers have announced their departure, with three leaving just this week.
Perhaps the most significant of the recent round of departures is design lead Mackey McCandlish, who has been with Infinity Ward since the first Call of Duty shipped in 2003. McCandlish revealed his departure via Twitter. "Thanks idub, we had a great 8+ year run going there. Thanks for lunch everyone!" the developer's farewell tweet reads.
McCandlish is the second design lead to part ways with Infinity Ward this month. Last week, multiplayer design lead Todd Aldermann and lead software engineer Francesco Gigliotti, revealed through their LinkedIn profiles that they were no longer with Infinity Ward. Notably, McCandlish and Todd Aldermann make up one half of Infinity Ward's design leads credited on Modern Warfare 2.
This week also saw the departure of Jon Shiring, who has been with Infinity Ward since June 2004. "After almost 6 years at Infinity Ward, I resigned today. I'm incredibly proud of everything we accomplished and I'm going to miss everyone," the programmer said through his Twitter feed. Shiring's credits include Call of Duty 2 as well as Modern Warfare and its top-selling sequel.
Lastly, Bruce Ferriz has also left Infinity Ward this month, according to his LinkedIn profile. Though he was only with the company since March 2009, Ferriz held a senior-level animator position at the studio.
Activision has taken steps to prevent a continued hemorrhaging of talent at Infinity Ward. As part of its counterclaim to West and Zampella's $36 million lawsuit, the publisher said that once it "prevails in this matter, it intends to reallocate any share of the Modern Warfare 2 bonus pool that might otherwise have been payable to West and Zampella to those employees responsible for the success of the game who remain employees of the company subsequent to the resolution of the matter."
None of the aforementioned developers have indicated their future plans. In announcing Respawn Entertainment yesterday, West and Zampella declined to comment on whether they expected to hire other Infinity Ward alumni. However, the two did say that its publishing partner, Electronic Arts, has provided the startup with funds to staff up and "build a blockbuster product."