West and Zampella sign with EA

West and Zampella sign with EA
Michael French

By Michael French

April 12th 2010 at 2:09PM

Former Infinity Ward founders defect to Activision rival and form Respawn Studios

The very public fight between Activision and Infinity Ward's former bosses has taken an interesting twist.

Jason West and Vince Zampella have formed a new independent studio, Respawn Entertainment - and the kicker for Activision is that they have a publishing deal with Electronic Arts.

The two were ousted for the studio in early March under accusations of insubordination. They filed a suit against Activision who last week filed a counter-claim accusing the pair of, amongst other things, delaying the development of Modern Warfare 3 as they renegotiated their contracts and attempting to poach staff as they looked to start a new studio.

[TIMELINE - INFINITY-GATE]


New outfit Respawn is currently only just in its formative stages and "the studio is currently assembling a world-class team of designers, artists and engineers".

Respawn will "focus on creating state-of-the-art gaming experiences for global audiences" the studio said in an announcement made with EA.

The studio's exec team get to keep the IP they make, and EA Partners gets distribution rights to all Respawn's future games.

In fact, curious wording in the announcement says West and Zampella have 'awarded' EA Partner the global rights to all its games - a sign of how the balance of power can shift towards developers. Creative Artists Agency, the talent firm the two signed with last month, was cited as key to brokering the deal.

"Respawn Entertainment marks a fresh start for Jason and me," said Zampella, GM of Respawn.

"For the past decade we led a great development team and poured our hearts into creating an epic game franchise. We're very proud of what we built - and proud that so many millions of fans enjoyed those games. Today we hope to do it all over again -- open a new studio, hire a great team, and create brand new games with a new partner, EA."

"We're excited," added West, president of the studio. "Now that the team is in control of the games and brands, we can ensure that the fans are treated as well as they deserve."

Frank Gibeau, President of the EA Games Label added: "This is the start of a great publishing partnership - one that I expect will develop blockbuster game franchises. Jason and Vince are two of the top creative leaders in the entertainment industry. At EA, we're honored to be their partners and to give them the support they need to hire a team and return to making incredible games."