The drama at Infinity Ward may soon come to an end, though not in the way many had hoped. Mike Hickey, analyst for Janco Partners, suggests that Activision may well close Infinity Ward upon the completion of a second map pack for Modern Warfare 2. Says Hickey:
“Continued defections from their Infinity Ward studio have created meaningful uncertainty around the future of their Call of Duty: Modern Warfare franchise. We expect Infinity Ward studio will be essentially closed after their next map pack release, with development work on Modern Warfare 3 spread between two studios not historically tied to the franchise.”
The two studios referenced in Hickey’s remark are likely Sledgehammer Games and Treyarch. Sledgehammer is, indeed, completely new to the franchise, while Treyarch has so far developed only the World War 2 based Call of Duty games. Modern Warfare, of course, had been exclusively developed by Infinity Ward.
Assigning new studios to Modern Warfare would represent a significant break from Activision’s statement that they, “…look forward to continuing to work with Infinity Ward’s deep bench of proven talent on exciting new projects.” Then again, that statement was released before the massive exodus of talent from Infinity Ward, and before 38 former Infinity Ward employees filed a 500 million dollar lawsuit against the publisher.
Nearly a quarter of Infinity Ward’s staff have departed, and several of the departed have joined Respawn Entertainment, the development studio founded by former Infinity Ward heads Jason West and Vince Zampella. However, roughly 75 employees remain at Infinity Ward. What will become of them should Activision actually close the troubled studio? Currently, no information exists.
Should this come to pass, it will be a truly sad end for a developer who only recently was among the most profitable in the history of games. What do you think? Should Activision shut Infinity Ward? Or can the remaining staff soldier on with new leadership?