THQ almost Respawn-ed with Infinity Ward founders

Publisher was "one deal point" away from inking agreement with Jason West and Vince Zampella's nascent studio.

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According to the latest accusations from Activision, Electronic Arts allegedly wooed Infinity Ward founders Jason West and Vince Zampella with an offer to create their own studio. After being fired from Activision for insubordination, the pair--who deny the claims--did just that, founding indie shop Respawn Entertainment and signing an exclusive deal with…Electronic Arts.

This logo almost adorned Respawn's first game.
This logo almost adorned Respawn's first game.

However, the aforementioned scenario wasn't as clear-cut as it might seem. According to a Wired.com interview, West and Zampella were in talks with a number of publishers following their departure from Activision. These talks almost led to the pair signing a deal with THQ, not EA.

"We were one deal point away from signing [Respawn]," THQ vice president Danny Bilson told Wired.com. "I saw [West and Zampella] recently, and they said it was that only one deal point, one that I wouldn't cave on."

According to Bilson, the point in question was the matter of intellectual property ownership. After seeing Activision expand the Call of Duty brand, West and Zampella wanted to control any IP they developed at their new operation. While EA signed off on that deal with its current publishing arrangement with Respawn, THQ apparently would not.

"My responsibility to our stockholders and to my CEO and the company is to build an IP library," Bilson said. He said that letting Respawn retain IP rights to its new property would cause upheaval with other developers, as it would "open the doors for everyone else to say, 'I wanna own it too.'"

Zampella confirmed Bilson's account to Wired.com, saying, "As for the IP ownership, frankly, after what we'd just been through with Activision, owning the IP we were going to create was important to us. Unfortunately, THQ did not want to agree to that."

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