The ongoing legal battle between Call of Duty: Modern Warfare developer Infinity Ward and their publishing giant Activision has been full of accusations and lawsuits from both sides. Following the news that Jason West and Vince Zampella, former chief developers who were fired by Activision in March, were starting a new company called Respawn Entertainment, this legal tussle has culminated into an exodus of several key players from Infinity Ward to this brand new startup. At stake from this movement is the future of Infinity Ward, the studio behind one of the video game industry's most successful properties, a chance for EA, one of Activision's biggest rivals, to build a franchise utilizing two of Activision's best creators, and the future of the now legally-entwined Modern Warfare brand.
The morale of Infinity Ward continues to crumble as more key members continue to jump ship. Top Infinity Ward developers started leaving the studio last week and the under-100-man operation has lost more than a dozen employees with more surely to follow. "They're scared shitless," an anonymous source said of Activision management. "They never saw this coming. They can't believe what's going on. At first they gave us some bullshit about moving up payments of all the money they owe us to sooner increments. But with the announcement of Respawn and all the people leaving, they just got their heads in their hands."
Although Activision has counterclaimed against the previously fired West and Zampella accusing them of trying to undermine both Activision and the financial well-being of Infinity Ward, a former developer who has worked under these men has shined a positive light on his former bosses amidst the slander from Activision. "They fired the two most amazing leaders we've ever seen, and then shafted us all out of a lot of money that was promised to us...there is nothing they can do to gain our trust or respect. And I'm pretty sure they know it now."
Amidst Respawn Entertainment cozying up to Electronic Arts and the still broiling developer-publisher drama, there seems to have been little effect on Activision Blizzard's stock price, which has actually moved upward since Infinity Ward's and Activisions legal problems began. The departures from Infinity Ward also seems to have little impact on fans' eagerness to buy map packs for Modern Warfare 2, which continue to sell like hotcakes.
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