NEWS - Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Former Infinity Ward Employee Offers Insight

The messy breakup between former Infinity Ward studio heads Jason West and Vince Zampella has been well publicized, but less well known is how members of the studio felt about their former bosses. G4 has an unearthed a few insights via one team member’s Linkedin recommendation for Zampella, which spoke of his role in "turning around the talent from a team that was overworked and unhappy with their previous conditions."
The recommendation was written by former production coordinator Jesse Heinig, who was a team member from 2004 to 2005. That would be roughly the period in which Infinity Ward was working on Call of Duty 2, which was an Xbox 360 launch title.

"I had the pleasure of working briefly for Vince and seeing his skills first-hand," Heinig wrote. "Vince’s history in the game development business should already be legendary. How he, Grant Collier, and Jason West forged Infinity Ward by turning around the talent from a team that was overworked and unhappy with their previous conditions."

West and Zampella were let go in early March. The two studio heads have since sued Activision for wrongful termination, and key figures such as leader designer Todd Alderman have resigned.

It has been rumored that Electronic Arts is interested in bringing West and Zampella aboard, and in fact Heinig makes note of a rumored "million dollar" bounty by the publisher in his recommendation.

"In short, Vince hardly needs my recommendation. He’s a prime example of "having it all together," a rare commodity in the increasingly stressful and delivery-driven video game development marketplace. But don’t just take my word for it," he wrote. "Rumor in the industry is that EA placed a million-dollar bounty for snapping up any IW studio lead, like Vince. Just the fact that the rumor is out there should speak volumes about how badly people want Vince working on their products."

West and Zampella have since signed on with a Hollywood talent agency. For their part, Activision intends to go forward with annual entries in the series, though West and Zampella’s lawsuit could potentially allow them to retain the rights to Modern Warfare. A case management conference is scheduled for July 21.



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