Fall of Duty

In light of yesterday's reported... sudden personnel changes... at Infinity Ward, it's interesting and enlightening to take a look at Activision head Bobby Kotick's speech from DICE 2010 speech.

Two weeks ago, while speaking on Creative Talent, Kotick stressed the importance of giving talent the resources they need to make the games they want to make, and how executives overlooking the passions of the people who make games can lead to monetary losses. "After 15 acquisitions, mainly of studios, we got to that place where we learned how to protect the culture of the companies that we either acquired or merged with," Kotick said.

"The thing you realize is that creative, inspired people really do need to control their destiny. If you create a culture that values independent thought and fosters independent operation and lets independent talent control much of their destiny, you'll get great games."

Hmmm... SEC filings suggesting "insubordination" as a reason for an investigation of top Infinity Ward employees  suggest fostering "independent thought" only goes to a certain point. Check it out in the video below:

DICE 2010: Bobby Kotick's "Creative Talent" Presentation »


Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

Activision and Infinity Ward have both been publicly quiet about what happened between the two companies yesterday. It can, however, be confirmed that both heads of the studio, president Jason West and CEO Vince Zampella, have confirmed they're no longer with Infinity Ward.

Confirmation of their departure comes through updates to each individual's Linkedin account.

Infinity Ward Leadership Confirm Leaving Company

"Jason West
President/Game Director/CCO/CTO Infinity Ward
January 2001 – March 2010 (9 years 3 months)"

"Vince Zampella
Studio Head/CEO
January 2002 – March 2010 (8 years 3 months)"

If you missed out on last night's breaking news from Infinity Ward, this story should get you caught up. I'll continue to monitor the developments at Infinity Ward and Activision throughout the day.

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

I'm truly hungover. Not from alcohol, but from all the weird game news that went down yesterday. I mean, the PS3 konked out for just about everyone. There was some internal, personnel shenanigans at Infinity Ward, and Portal 2 was cleverly teased. Shew!

To relax after the long day of strange news in the video game world, I watched A&E's Interventions last night. TheFeed's Jake "Killer" Gaskill and I agree: It's the best show on TV and Jeff "The General" VanVonderen is the best interventionist in history. Last night's program featured a guy who:

1) Was addicted to Oxycontin

2) Was a 360 owner -- a conspicuously placed controller gave him away.

3) Said he used to be an "orchestra geek," but wasn't any more. 

He was cellist who decided to be "cool" by wearing sunglasses, driving a ridiculous convertible, wearing Ed Hardy t-shirts and talking about his "homies." It was pretty funny, and inspired me to create a word to describe former geeks who try to be cool by aping the mannerisms of frat-bros. Ladies and gentlemen, please pepper the following word into your conversation so it catches on: Gouchebag.

Also: How 'bout that weirdness at Infinity Ward??

Modern Warfare 2 GamesCom 2009 Co-Op Preview

UPDATE 12:02 AM: Double Fine's Tim Schafer, who had his own troubles with Activision over the release of Brutal Legend, recently commented on Twitter about what's happening between Infinity Ward and Activision.

"Getting mad at Activision for this kind of thing is like getting mad at an ape for throwing feces," said Schafer. "It's just how the beast communicates."

UPDATE 11:20 PM: It turns out Activision may have showed their hand in this matter earlier today.

In an SEC filing made this morning, Activision cited a human resources investigation into "breaches of contract and insubordination by two senior employees at Infinity Ward."

Based on the information we currently have, at least one of those employees may have included Infinity Ward CTO Jason West. It's possible Vince Zampella is the other unmentioned employee.

"This matter is expected to involve the departure of key personnel and litigation," read the filing. "At present, the Company does not expect this matter to have a material impact on the Company."

UPDATE 11:11 PM: Infinity Ward community manager Robert Bowling has vaguely addressed the situation.

"I should also say, while I appreciate all the calls, tweets, messages and hearing my ringtone a lot," said Bowling on his Twitter account, "they're in vain - as I have no info."

UPDATE 10:07 PM: More developments on the situation at Infinity Ward have come to light.

A screen shot surfaced from Infinity Ward CTO Jason West's Facebook page at Kotaku with the status update "Jason West is drinking. Also, unemployed." I can confirm from a source that's friends with West that update did actually come from West's account.

West also updated his Linkedin profile to appears to reflect a change in employment. 

"President/Game Director/CCO/CTO Infinity Ward
January 2001 – March 2010 (9 years 3 months)"

While this doesn't yet provide much insight into what actually happened at Infinity Ward, it confirms there are changes afoot at the Call of Duty developer. As soon as I know more, you'll know more.

UPDATE: Security Appears Unannounced At Infinity Ward, Studio Heads Missing, Staff

ORIGINAL STORY: Something's happening at Infinity Ward right now.

A source close to the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 developer just informed me that a "bunch of bouncer-types" just showed up outside of the Infinity Ward offices unannounced. When approached by employees, the non-uniformed "bouncers" were unwilling to disclose why they were there.

"Everyone is on edge," said my source.

Infinity Ward studio heads Vince Zampella and Jason West reportedly met with Activision this morning and have not been seen by Infinity Ward staff members since. My source did not delve into specifics, but described the relationship between Infinity Ward and Activision lately as "tense."

The mood around the Infinity Ward offices is currently described as "freaked out" and "confused."

"We just wanna make our games," said my source.

I've contacted Activision for comment on the ongoing situation at Infinity Ward. Stay tuned.

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

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