What do Infinity Ward employees think of their bosses? We have a small slice of insight via a recent Linkedin recommendation for former Infinity Ward studio head and CEO Vince Zampella.
The recommendation was penned on March 2 (the same period when the original Infinity Ward news was coming to light) by Jesse Heinig, a production coordinator at Infinity Ward from 2004 to 2005. Infinity Ward released Call of Duty 2 in October 2005. Heinig would have been present at Infinity Ward during the company's hurried rush to finish development on Call of Duty 2 for Activision, a release timed to Xbox 360's launch that fall. The game was received to stellar reviews.
"I had the pleasure of working briefly for Vince and seeing his skills first-hand," said Heinig, now a freelance writer at WhiteWolf, the company behind a number of major RPGs, including Vampire: The Requiem. "Vince's history in the game development business should already be legendary. How he, Grant Collier, and Jason West forged Infinity Ward by turning around the talent from a team that was overworked and unhappy with their previous conditions."
Grant Collier is also a former president of Infinity Ward, who left to assume a mysterious "special projects" role within Activision. Jason West, the most recent president, left alongside Zampella. Activision is alleging "insubordination" related to Zampella and West, a claim currently involved in litigation.
The state of Infinity Ward after the studio leadership departure remains an open question. It certainly doesn't comes as much of a surprise other veteran employees are leaving the company, but it's unknown if these now ex-Infinity Ward employees will follow their former leaders once again.
"How this team proceeded to build one of the most successful and enduring franchises of this generation of video games," he continued. "How the IW studio became synonymous with serious code and good gameplay. Vince is one of the few professionals that I'd call a visionary, in the most fundamental sense of the word: He has a powerful vision and he organizes a team to see it through. He's able to juggle different divisions seamlessly, handle high-level meetings and interfaces between the team on the ground and the demands of the production studio, and still keep an eye on the final product."
Heinig went on to praise Zampella directly on Linkedin, saying he has "a real imagination" and "knows the ins and outs of what makes gameplay fun and engaging, not just a cost analysis." He eventually proclaims Zampella doesn't need his recommendation, citing an interesting industry rumor.
"Don't just take my word for it," said Heinig. "Rumor in the industry is that EA [Electronic Arts] placed a million-dollar bounty for snapping up any IW studio lead, like Vince. Just the fact that the rumor is out there should speak volumes about how badly people want Vince working on their products."
I hadn't heard of a million-dollar bounty, but the EA connection isn't new. An internal Activision memo acquired by G4 showed Activision was seeking e-mails and other documentation about conversations.