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Ex-Infinity Ward Staffers Join Respawn

Ex-Infinity Ward Staffers Join Respawn

April 23, 2010 | By Leigh Alexander

April 23, 2010 | By Leigh Alexander
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Numerous key staffers who left Infinity Ward in the wake of Jason West and Vince Zampella's firings are turning up at Respawn Entertainment, the new studio the pair founded with the publishing support of Electronic Arts.

The LinkedIn profile of former lead designer Todd Alderman now shows him taking a similar role at Respawn. Alderman left Infinity Ward earlier this month, one of the earliest reported departures in what became a string of senior-level employee exits.

As discovered by consumer site G4, Alderman is joined at Respawn by other recently-reported ex-Infinity Ward staffers. Lead animator Mark Grisby, lead environmental artist Chris Cherubin, lead animator John Paul Messerly, software engineer Rayme Vinson, programmer Jon Shiring and lead designer Mackey McCandlish all revealed via social media that they've taken on comparable roles at Respawn.

Yesterday, addressing anti-Activision consumers via a Facebook thread, Activision rep Dan Amrich said the closely-scrutinized Infinity Ward employee departures were likely "not over yet."

The employees who stay at Infinity Ward are effectively being incentivized to stay by Modern Warfare 2 performance bonuses forfeited by West and Zampella when they were fired. Amrich confirmed the bonus money would be distributed among remaining staff, but several sources close to the situation have told Gamasutra that employees are being asked to sign time or project commitments before receiving their bonuses.

Analysts warn that the loss of Infinity Ward talent to West and Zampella's new venture is a significant risk to Activision. Although widespread consumer media reports in recent weeks, corroborated by Gamasutra sources, indicate that stress is high and morale low among the remaining employees, Activision has asserted that the studio remains some 100 employees strong and focused on new opportunities under its interim leadership.

After Activision fired them for "insubordination", West and Zampella sued Activision for $36 million, claiming wrongful termination. Activision counter-sued, accusing the pair of "scheming", stealing company secrets and secretly meeting with a rival publisher.

Shortly thereafter, the pair resurfaced with the founding of Respawn Entertainment, where they'll develop an owned IP to be published by Electronic Arts. No details have yet emerged about the nature of the project.


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