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Fall of Duty

By this time tomorrow, you’re going to be up to your elven cosplay ears in G4’s Comic-Con 2010 coverage, and while I would say I’m sorry, there isn’t really anything to be sorry about, since it just means you’ll have offensive amounts of Comic-Con info to consume at your leisure without the need to brave the interesting smelling crowds of the convention yourself. That’s our job, and we cherish it. But seeing as Comic-Con proper doesn’t kick off until tomorrow, we’ve decided to put together a very special pre-Comic-Con Feedback for you this week featuring the countess of comics herself Blair Butler chatting about all of the week’s biggest game news, and, of course, the big CC, with host Adam Sessler, Abbie Heppe, Matt Keil, and, for the first time, G4tv.com’s features editor Kevin Kelly.

Feedback -- Comic-Con 2010 Edition »


Hulk might prefer to smash, but here on Feedback, we prefer to discuss...and then smash:

  • Microsoft announced this week that Kinect will retail for $150, and will come bundled with Kinect Adventures. They also revealed a new 4GB Xbox 360 console, and Kinect bundle.
  • Connecticut has joined 11 other states in support of legislation proposed by California to restrict sales of violent games to children. Needless to say, this whole situation disturbs us quite a bit.
  • And speaking of things that disturb us, there continues to be chatter about Activision considering the idea of introducing a subscription model to future Call of Duty games. Despite what Treyarch says, the decision is ultimately Activision's, and that's definitely cause for concern.

Feedback: All of the heroic potential of the Fantastic Four, only we're sometimes more than four, and quite a bit less fantastic.

The AUDIO MP3 of this episode of FEEDBACK is available here: Right-click and Save.






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Last week, we brought you word that industry analyst Michael Pachter thinks Call of Duty's multiplayer will soon cost something to play, and that the release of Black Ops will likely bring this nickle and diming to us all. Obviously, gamers were upset.

Today we have a YouTube video that purports to show a MW 2 menu reading "no memberships available at this time." Check it out:

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Respawn Entertainment Hopes Their Next Game

Update 11:57 AM: A source close to the Respawn tells us that this is a fake account, and in no way indicates whether they plan to announce anything at E3. We're guessing they won't. So, ignore the story below; it is hogwash.

Respawn Entertainment, that game development company started when the creators of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Modern Warfare 2 left Activision, has something big up its sleeve.  According to the facebook page of Vince Zampella and Jason West, we should be ready for a..."big time announcement at E3 next week. stay tuned, kiddies!"

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What One Former Infinity Ward Employee Thinks Of Ex-CEO Vince Zampella

After the fallout that resulted in Respawn Entertainment, Infinity Ward needs some new recruits. Despite the recent troubles, it's a developer Activision apparently intends to stick by and restaff. Here's what's available at Infinity Ward and what it might tell us about their next Call of Duty.

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Activision Pulls Raven Software Off Bond Game, Now Designing Call Of Duty Maps

UPDATE 2:35 PM: Activision has responded to my earlier report, but they're not saying anything.

"Activision does not comment on rumor and speculation," said a company spokesperson.

ORIGINAL STORY: Besides World of Warcraft, there's no franchise more important to Activision than Call of Duty. With Infinity Ward recovering from a mass resignation of senior employees, Activision is looking for more developers to work on the franchise. I've been informed by multiple sources familiar with the situation, all of whom chose to remain anonymous, that Activision has tasked Raven Software with making Call of Duty: Black Ops map packs and put one of their games on hold in the process.

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Infinity Ward: Activision Never Wanted Call of Duty To Go Modern

It's become regular, repeated news at this point but no less important. Another two employees who once worked at Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 developer Infinity Ward and resigned in the wake of Activision's firing of former studio leadership Jason West and Vince Zampella have joined West and Zampella at their new Electronic Arts-backed studio, Respawn Entertainment.

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What One Former Infinity Ward Employee Thinks Of Ex-CEO Vince Zampella

Activision has confirmed that Infinity Ward's next game will be Call of Duty-related.

The news was disclosed during Activision's first quarter 2010 conference call.

Here's what we know (based on what Activision said during the call) so far.

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Despite the turmoil at Infinity Ward, including a lawsuit field by a number of employees still working at the Activision-owned studio, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick says Infinity Ward is working on "their next big project," in addition to the second map pack for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.

Kotick revealed the news about Infinity Ward during their first quarter 2010 conference call today. He provided no other details on the game or whether it's the oft-discussed Modern Warfare 3, but explicitly said that Infinity Ward "remains an important studio" to Activision.

The CEO then read a long statement about the situation at Infinity Ward. It's a must-read.

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Infinity Ward Exodus Continues -- Three More Leave Studio, Two Join Respawn

Yet another former Infinity Ward member has become an employee of Respawn Entertainment.

Who's the latest? According to an updated on Linkedin, it's the studio's former "HR Ninja."

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What One Former Infinity Ward Employee Thinks Of Ex-CEO Vince Zampella

Just as Activision gains Bungie Studios, the publisher continues to lose a steady stream of senior developers to Respawn Entertainment, the new startup from the fired leaders of Infinity Ward.

Today brings word four more developers who resigned from Infinity Ward after the widely covered leadership firings have signed onto Respawn, according to recently updated Linkedin profiles.

Keep reading to find out who's the latest to shack up with Respawn.

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Activision Plans To Release Just Two DLC Packs For Modern Warfare 2

38 former and ex-Infinity Ward employees filed suit against Activision yesterday. There's also one less executive at Activision now, president and CEO of Activision Publishing Mike Griffith, news that the LA Times broke several weeks back, but has now been made official in a disclosure to the SEC.

Griffith oversaw Infinity Ward in his role at Activision Publishing. Is there a connection?

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UPDATE 2:53 PM: Activision has issued a brief response to the lawsuit:

"Activision believes the action is without merit," said a company spokesperson over e-mail just moments ago. "Activision retains the discretion to determine the amount and the schedule of bonus payments for MW2 and has acted consistent with its rights and the law at all times. We look forward to getting judicial confirmation that our position is right.

ORIGINAL STORY: The other shoe has now dropped.

I've obtained a copy of a lawsuit filed this morning in the Los Angeles Superior Court by 38 plaintiffs, calling themselves the "Infinity Ward Employee Group," against Activision. The Infinity Ward Employee Group (whom I'll refer to as IWEG throughout the rest of this story) alleges breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, violation of California labor code and more. The group is after a large amount of unpaid royalties.

"Activision owes my clients approximately $75 million to $125 million dollars," said Bruce Isaacs, one of the IWEG's attorneys at Wyman & Isaacs LLP, over the phone this afternoon. "Activision has withheld most of the money to force many of my people to stay, some against their will, so that they would finish the delivery of Modern Warfare 3. That is not what they wanted to do. Many of them. My clients' entitled to their money. Activision has no right to withhold their money -- our money."

The IWEG contains "a significant portion of the members of the creative team" who "designed, developed and delivered" Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 to Activision. According to the lawsuit, $28 million has been delivered to Infinity Ward employees for bonuses related to Modern Warfare 2, but the suit alleges at least $54 million is still due from 2009 profits alone.

They want more than $54 million, however. The IWEG is looking "to recover between $75 million and $125 million, if not more, in compensatory damages." That number's derived from:

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Activision: Modern Warfare 2 Could Be Biggest

In what's become nearly a daily reoccurrence, there are new reports of departures from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare developer Infinity Ward, in the wake of Activision firing their former leadership, Jason West and Vince Zampella, and the formation of a Call of Duty business unit.

A source close to Infinity Ward has informed me that both lead programmer Robert Field and human resources and recruiting head Kristin Cotterell have announced their resignations from the studio. Field and Cotterell have updated their Linkedin profiles to reflect past employment.

There are more Respawn Entertainment recruits, too.

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Infinity Ward Exodus Continues -- Three More Leave Studio, Two Join Respawn

Lead character artist Joel Emslie and artists Ryan Lastimosa and Brad Allen are the latest employees at Infinity Ward to hang up their hats and leave the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare developer.

All three now-former employees have updated their Facebook profiles to reflect the recent decision, a source close to Infinity Ward has told me. None have announced their future development plans.

Two others, however, have made a future with their former bosses at Respawn Entertainment official.

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What One Former Infinity Ward Employee Thinks Of Ex-CEO Vince Zampella

UPDATE 4/24 2:14 PM: Late in the night, I received word of another Infinity Ward departure. A source close to the studio relayed word that level designer Keith Bell updated his Facebook profile with news that he's left Infinity Ward.

It's currently unknown where Bell will head to next.

Including this latest update, a total of eight employees left Infinity Ward on Friday.

ORIGINAL STORY: Even though it's already been reported today that five employees turned in letters of resignation at Infinity Ward, there's more to be counted. Two more at Infinity Ward have called it quits at the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare studio, bringing the count for today alone at seven.

Designer Charlie Wiederhold and level designer Preston Glenn have both left the company, a source close to Infinty Ward has informed me. Their future plans are currently unknown.

Several former members of Infinity Ward, however, have decided to join Respawn Entertainment, the new company from ex-Infinity Ward leaders Jason West and Vince Zampella.

Have something to share? Sitting on a news tip? E-mail me. You can also follow me on Twitter.

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