Infinity-gate: 25 gone

Infinity-gate: 25 gone

By Rob Crossley

April 27th 2010 at 10:10AM

A further eight leave, meaning a quarter of the studio has departed

In what has become a slow twist of the knife for publishing powerhouse Activision, a further eight developers have left Modern Warfare 2 studio Infinity Ward.

Ongoing embarrassment for the lawsuit-riddled Activision continues, as a total of 25 staff is said to have left the highly prized development outfit.

Last month the studio – provably one of the most lucrative in the world – found itself at the centre of a bitter legal row with its owning company.

Activision sacked studio heads Vince Zampella and Jason West for alleged “insubordination”, before the publisher fired legal action at the duo, and found a countersuit at its own doorstep.

Since then, Infinity Ward has haemorrhaged staff, with new departures routinely announced via social networking sites Twitter and LinkedIn.

[TIMELINE - INFINITY-GATE]

West and Zampella have since formed a new indie studio, and fresly-departed Infinity Ward staff are flocking to the studio.

According to a Kotaku report, new departures include lead character artist Joel Emslie, weapons artist Ryan Lastimosa, artist Brad Allen, lead programmer Robert Field, level designers Kevin Belland Preston Glenn, designer Charlie Wiederhold.

Proving that the disastrous matter has affected the very fabric of Infinity Ward, Kotaku also reports that HR/recruitment specialist Kristin Cotterell has also left the company.

An Activision representative recently claimed that more staff would likely depart from the studio, though few can put a figure on the final number of walkouts. It was also suggested that the studio, or what remains, will undergo a transformation in company culture.

Media manager Dan Amrich says that the ongoing legal row – pitting ex-studio heads Zampella and West against the publisher – will spur a revolution at the Modern Warfare studio.

“IW still exists,” he said. “[Though] obviously its identity and company culture are going to go through huge changes in the coming months and years.”

Jotting down his views on a public Facebook thread, Amrich suggested that change means opportunity.

“When stuff happens and a situation changes, we all have the same core decision: Stay the course and reinvent, or move on to something else,” he said.

“The people who stick at IW will have to reinvent the studio, but it may well be that some of these people who cut their teeth on MW and MW2 are now ready to step up with their own ideas.”

In this light, Amrich made it clear he thinks Infinity Ward – despite accusations of low morale and, at points, studio breakdown – the company remains a top place to work in.

“I'd think if you are young and hungry and have a vision for a new game, IW would be a really good place to be right now,” he said.

“There are so many young and hungry designers, programmers, and developers out there, and I suspect some of them are already employed at IW, just waiting for their shot. When the dust settles, I expect to see some talented people step up and redefine the studio.”