Following several years of being Modern Warfare's public face, Robert Bowling's sudden departure from Modern Warfare developer Infinity Ward and publisher Activision was certainly surprising and has been shrouded in mystery ever since.
What's more surprising is the possible reason why he resigned from his position which has been put under the spotlight from a recent interview with the creative strategist.
Bowling, who has been at Infinity Ward since 2006, received years of abuse from Twitter users due to the hate fest that the Modern Warfare franchise usually attracts - thanks to the rinse-and-repeat formula that has arguably become ever-present in the IP. However, whilst initial speculation regarding his exit from the firm may have pointed towards the considerable amount of aggressive and threatening tweets he receives, that doesn't seem like the real reason for the parting of his position.
In what turned out to be one of his last interviews while an Activision and Infinity Ward employee, Bowling clearly expressed his displeasure regarding a subscription-based system (see: Call of Duty Elite) to Machinima. Additionally, he stated that he wanted to release various maps from Modern Warfare 3's predecessors for free - something which obviously isn't carried out by Activision with 20 premium downloadable content packs (mostly constituting of map packs) being released throughout the course of January 2012 and the next nine months.
"Here is my philosophy on throwback maps. Old school maps, I love maps like that, I want to see Creek, I want to see Overgrown, I want to see Crossfire, I want to see Highrise. So my mentality on it is if you are going to do throw back maps, if you are going to do classic maps, keep it outside of the DLC model. Like for DLC, if you are paying for stuff and it's included in your subscription, it should all be new content. Give me something new I've never seen before, and that's not something we've done in the past before, [when] we've included [old maps] in traditional map packs.
But now, since our DLC model is so different, I feel like we have a flexibility to let DLC be focused on all new content, brand new stuff you've never seen before in the game or any game. And if we want to do a throwback map, let that be outside the DLC model, let it be free, let it be to everyone. Don't let it be restricted by contracts and partnerships and all that f*cking money stuff. Let it just be there. So that's what I think. I want to see the new gameplay experience of Modern Warfare 3 in classic maps.
I feel like we are in a f*cking era where everyone is so focused on subscriber numbers and all that stuff that we need to get back to what I feel like we did so much better in the old days of just plain goodwill, like stuff like the LAN patch, yeah it is lower priority but let's get it out the f*cking door. Let's just do it."
While the split appears to be cordial by taking a tweet by his former employer, Infinity Ward, into account, it could still be argued that Activision may have asked Bowling to step down or he took offense to a potential response from the firm - due to the contents of the interview. There's also the obvious reason that he quit simply over Activision's inability to incorporate his views.
With Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 being the biggest entertainment launch of all time in every medium evidenced by its achievement of $1 billion gross sales in 16 days (a day less than the previous record holder Avatar), and the franchise clearly having a bright future (at least sales wise), you can't help but think that Infinity Ward's face of Call of Duty was forced to resign for one reason or another.
Ranters, what are your thoughts on Bowling's exit? Do you believe that his interview landed him in hot water with Activision? Or did he simply reach a boiling point with Call of Duty's heavy focus on Elite? Share your comments below.