Infinity Ward rebels defect to Respawn

Infinity Ward rebels defect to Respawn

By Rob Crossley

April 23rd 2010 at 10:02AM

Seven experienced staff cross borders to the new indie unit

In what is fast becoming a stabbing PR attack on the biggest game publisher in the world, a group of ex-Infinity Ward employees have rushed to join Zampella and West's Respawn Entertainment - the indie studio formed out of a high-profile and ferocious legal row with Activision.

In a perfect demonstration that the whisper is louder than the scream, last night seven ex-Infinity Ward designers, engineers and animators quietly changed their job statuses on the social networking site LinkedIn. Where there was once the name of the Modern Warfare studio sitting atop the developers' CVs, today there is Respawn.

It's no coincidence that each developer happened to change their profile pages at the same time. Like with the protagonists in Activision's lucrative war-FPS series, this was a synchronised, swift and staged assault.

[TIMELINE - INFINITY-GATE]

Those joining Respawn from Infinity Ward are lead designer Todd Alderman, lead animators Mark Grisby and John Paul Messerly, lead environmental artist Chris Cherubini, software engineer Rayme C. Vinson, programmer Jon Shirling and lead designer Mackey McCandlish.

A revolution may be underway, but Respawn doesn’t yet have enough to build an army. It’s very early days for the studio, and so far only seven staff have been known to have joined the group. More will follow, of course.

Even so, spearheaded as they are by Vince Zampella and Jason West, this handful of rebels have caused an inestimable scale of embarrassment for Activision.

News of the Respawn hires comes soon after Activision media manager Dan Amrich said the Infinity Ward staff walkouts were “not over yet”.

Speaking from a personal perspective, he said that “more people will probably go too, looking for new situations.”

He added: “Maybe they will join Respawn, maybe not.”

The issue for Activision – at least in terms of saving face – is that studios establish themselves relatively slowly.

With Respawn Entertainment having only opened a couple of weeks ago, the drip-fed news of more hires will be a slow twist of the knife for Activision.