We could probably see it a mile away, but the announcement of the formation of Respawn Entertainment from ex-Infinity Ward bosses Vince Zampella and Jason West – with an EA Partners deal to boot – is a megaton.
Following the initial announcement, West and Zampella got busy with a ton of interviews, and Activision through in its own tuppence, too. Great, it was.
For everything that happened from yesterday afternoon to last night, hit the link.
Let’s start at the beginning:
- On March 2, Activision fired Vince Zampella and Jason West as co-heads of Infinity Ward for “insubordination”. Days later, the pair commence legal proceedings against the publisher for $36 million and full control of the Modern Warfare IP.
- An internal Acti memo reveals the pair were in talks with other publishers – possibly including EA – while still at Infinity Ward.
- Last week, it was rumoured that EA had placed a million-dollar bounty for either Zampella or West, according to an ex-Infinity Ward staffer.
- On Friday, Activision issues a countersuit against Zampella and West, saying the pair were “insubordinate and self-serving schemers”.
- Fast forward 72 hours to yesterday: Activision claims the two were delaying development of Modern Warfare 3, holding the IP “hostage” while they negotiated terms.
- Then the bomb detonated: EA announced the formation of Respawn Entertainment from Zampella and West, also adding it was “awarded” full publishing and distribution rights to the developer’s first title via EA Partners. Respawn will maintain full control of whatever IPs it creates.
- Zampella said the new developer is “a total reset”, adding the move was “daunting and exciting”. EA Games boss Frank Gibeau said the pair’s return to EA – Zampella and West founded Infinity Ward with Grant Collier out of the remains of Medal of Honor Allied Assault devs 2015 Inc. – was ironic.
- Meanwhile, speaking to Patrick Garratt at the formal reveal of Crysis 2 last week in New York, EA Partners head David DeMartini said Activision had “blown up” the creative team at Infinity Ward, saying the developer for this year’s Call of Duty, Treyarch, was seen as the “B-team”.
“The media has identified the non-Infinity Ward years as the B-team years, and just kind of picking that up from the media and looking at the review scores, they tend to drop down anywhere from 7-10 points in a non-Infinity Ward year.”
- Activision told VG247 later in the evening in a statement that the deal with EA came as “no surprise”, adding Infinity Ward still has a “deep bench of proven talent on exciting new projects.”
- Later on yesterday, Zampella, West, Gibeau and DeMartini gave a string of interviews on the new company. Speaking with Kotaku, Gibeau said the studio wouldn’t be working on existing EA shooter IPs like Medal of Honor or Battlefield.
- West later told Joystiq that the studio will be creating “entirely new games and entirely new universes, worlds”, adding the move was a “hard reboot for us”.
- Zampella told Eurogamer that accusations that he and West had “held hostage” Modern Warfare 3, and the whole IP in general, were “false and outrageous”.
- West told GI that EA had been involved from when 2015 Inc. was about, with DeMartini keen to sing the praises of the EA Partners scheme.
“Certainly the Partners programme was in existence eight years but we’ve evolved quite a bit in the last eight years. Obviously we’ve evolved in a good way because we’ve been able to attract Crytek, Valve, id, Starbreeze and lot of other partners. Quality begats quality, and I think when people evaluate partners and people they can hook up with, they look at the other best independent game developers in the world and they’ve all selected to be part of the EA Partners programme.”
- But despite that, Zampella told Gamasutra that he and West “were not returning to EA. We just have a deal with EA and the EA Partners program.”
- It was later revealed that two more staffers from Infinity Ward had left the studio following the resignation of two other developers at the studio last week.
And that’s everything up to this point. When there’s more, we’ll let you know.