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Infinity Ward Lead Developers Axed Unexpectedly

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the let's-blame-the-dedicated-server-fiasco dept.

Businesses 276

RogueyWon writes "Kotaku is reporting that Infinity Ward, the development studio behind Modern Warfare 2, has been at the center of strange events recently. Jason West and Vince Zampella, two lead developers, have been fired by parent company Activision for 'breaches of contract and insubordination.' Speculation is rife as to the reasons behind this; following Modern Warfare 2's spectacular sales figures, it seems unlikely that the studio's performance could be to blame."

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Activision (4, Interesting)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31331926)

It's Robert A. Kotick's [wikipedia.org] business plan. Infinity Ward didn't want to work on more Modern Warfare games, as they previously stated, so Activision got angry as they obviously want to milk the cash cow more. It's even worse than how EA releases sports games every year (which still make sense to sports fans).

- business strategy focused on developing intellectual property which can be exploited over a long period, occasionally to the exclusion of creating new, risky or niche titles.
- he stated that focusing on franchises that "have the potential to be exploited every year on every platform with clear sequel potential and have the potential to become $100 million franchises"
- "We have a real culture of thrift. The goal that I had in bringing a lot of the packaged goods folks into Activision about 10 years ago was to take all the fun out of making video games." Kotick later stated he tries to promote an atmosphere of "skepticism, pessimism, and fear" in his company and, "We are very good at keeping people focused on the deep depression."

Yeah, Activision sounds just lovely. I just keep wondering why Vivendi doesn't put them in shape, but probably it brings money in now. I just hope Activision dies quickly. At least EA has started to bring some innovation again.

Earlier Activision gave trouble to Brutal Legend developers, and they said it good [twitter.com] :

Getting mad at Activision for this kind of thing is like getting mad at an ape for throwing feces. It's just how the beast communicates.

Re:Activision (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31332264)

Would you care to cite where you copied that "business strategy" from?

One word: MORALS clause (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31332382)

Something about, well, I can't divulge.

I know, I know, killing and all that glorified is not exactly near the moral highground, but that's not real life (to most of us).

Re:Activision (2, Informative)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332454)

They're from the wikipedia article I linked [wikipedia.org] , and it has the cites in it.

Re:Activision (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31333756)

Dude, how much time do you spend on slashdot? Your UID is pretty high so you're both a newbie and an addict. God I hate virgins.

Re:Activision (2, Informative)

twidarkling (1537077) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332478)

Here you go: http://www.joystiq.com/2009/09/14/activision-ceo-talks-console-less-guitar-hero-turning-fear-into/ [joystiq.com]

Now for the promised strange and, yes, disturbing comments on Kotick's part. What may have been music to bean counters' ears still has ours ringing, as he described tailoring developer bonuses to "really [reward] profit and nothing else" and how an air of "skepticism, pessimism, and fear" is promoted within the company with the goal of "keeping people focused on the deep depression." You know, so they focus on profit and nothing else. It's all to plan, though, seeing as Kotick confided that, "The goal that I had in bringing a lot of the packaged goods folks into Activision about 10 years ago was to take all the fun out of making video games."

Re:Activision (3, Funny)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332542)

It's pretty tough when he links to the page with all those quotes on it, isn't it?

Re:Activision (1, Informative)

radish (98371) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332386)

That last bullet point was a widely misquoted joke, as plenty of people who were on the call in question have confirmed.

Re:Activision (1)

Danse (1026) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332612)

That last bullet point was a widely misquoted joke, as plenty of people who were on the call in question have confirmed.

Only in the "it's funny because it's true" sense.

Re:Activision (4, Insightful)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332658)

He's working really hard to turn that joke into serious business.

Re:Activision (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333082)

So far it seems the joke is that it's true.

> The goal that I had in bringing a lot of the packaged goods folks into Activision about 10 years ago was to take all the fun out of making video games.

e.g.
Firing lead developers of a rather successful game.
Shutting down a fan-made game (even though allegedly the developers were given permission to make it).

Re:Activision (4, Insightful)

fusiongyro (55524) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332402)

The games industry as a whole treats their programmers like crap. As a matter of fact, every romanticized occupation with a ton of people lined up outside the door treats their employees poorly. Apple pays less than their Silicon Valley neighbors because they get more applications and the job has that mystique. Coveted jobs = lower pay, higher stress, worse working conditions, more hours, etc.

Re:Activision (4, Insightful)

jalefkowit (101585) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333284)

Get a union.

Seriously!

Hollywood actors, screenwriters and directors all have strong unions. And when they strike (as the writers did in 2007 [wikipedia.org] ), they are not easily replaced. If Joss Whedon walks off the set [blogspot.com] you can't just grab some random schmuck off the street to replace him.

Game developers are creative people too. They have just as much leverage as the showbiz creatives in New York and LA do. All they need to do to stop being treated like crap is to exercise it.

Re:Activision (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31332446)

Cry me a fucking river and welcome to the real world. Working for "fun" is an illusion and a great ammo for management to underpay you.

Re:Activision (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332550)

WEll then I better not have any more fun here at work.

Oh wait I dont work for assholes.. I guess that is the key to "working for fun"

Re:Activision (5, Funny)

Greg_D (138979) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332640)

The higher your talent level is, the more likely you're going to enjoy your job, simply because you have more options.

I know being a fry cook is tough for you, but chin up, soon you'll be working the burger line.

Re:Activision (3, Interesting)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333074)

Soon you'll be working the burger line.

You know what the funny thing about this stereotype is? Burger line workers at McDonald's make the most money, besides the shift managers. In fact, the money they make isn't bad considering what their job involves. When I worked at McDonalds when I was 16 (almost 10 years ago...geez) the sandwich line guys made something like $8.50 an hour. Keep in mind, that was between 1999 and 2000...

True, it isn't much...but it isn't bad, all things considered.

Re:Activision (5, Interesting)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333140)

Oh, and also for the record, I LOVED working at McDonalds when I was younger. I was the only native English speaker in the store, so I got put on the "first" register for the drive through...that meant I got to sit in that little hole taking drive-through orders and taking money. It was AWESOME. Take money from the guy parked at the window while entering the next order. Didn't have to worry about putting food together, dealing with customers wanting extra stuff, dealing with a slippy floor or a hot kitchen...it really was a lot of fun. I only made $6 an hour, but all I needed the money for was putting gas in my truck and getting a little something building up for when I moved out.

I only worked there a little over a year, but it was a TON of fun. Having fun working there required nothing more than realizing that problem customers were bitching about cheese and french fries. CHEESE. AND. FRENCH. FRIES. How sad does your life have to be to complain about fast food? Obviously worse than working at McDonalds, ha!

Re:Activision (1)

revlayle (964221) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332876)

Sounds like you hate your job...

Re:Activision (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333288)

Thats exactly the kind of attitude I'd expect from someone who has never worked for fun.

The idea of "working for fun" is in most cases, a "you are your own boss", kind of situation. All entertainment industries are highly based on this premise. A developer has an idea for a game, a director has an Idea for a movie, an Artist has an Idea for a song. Their paycheck might come from the CEO of the Game company, the movie studios, or the music label, but for the most part they have complete and utter freedom to do things as they see fit.

On occaison you'll see a band terminate their contract because they had "artistic differences" with the music label. Meaning the label wanted to force the kind of music a band makes. In semi rare cases, they'll start their own music label (See Jay-Z).

This is simply a reflection of that. Infinity Ward Developers had some artistic differences with Activision. They can just as easily get a job anywhere else, but in all honesty, I could see those 2 guys, and a handful of guys in infinity ward leaving Activision for a fulfilling new career in a brand new startup, led by these 2 devs.

Re:Activision (1)

longacre (1090157) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332456)

EA releases sports games every year (which still make sense to sports fans)

Before consoles were connected to the Internet, it made sense because you always wanted to have the latest rosters and usually the graphics would get incrementally better. These days the quality of the graphics has pretty much plateaued nd game play remains more or less the same. Now that these things can be updated online, there's no compelling reason for releasing new games every year other than to make money, very much like college text books.

Re:Activision (1)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333022)

I'm sure using names/rosters does incur some kind of licensing cost, so I don't actually have a big problem with charging for them. However, I do tend to agree with you that this should be more in line with a $1-10 DLC than a $70 new title.

Re:Activision (4, Insightful)

assemblyronin (1719578) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332554)

- "We have a real culture of thrift. The goal that I had in bringing a lot of the packaged goods folks into Activision about 10 years ago was to take all the fun out of making video games." Kotick later stated he tries to promote an atmosphere of "skepticism, pessimism, and fear" in his company and, "We are very good at keeping people focused on the deep depression."

Well firing your top two devs will certainly help you with that goal. Imagine anyone's review, "You think you're *that* special? Shit son, we just fired our top two guys, now work 90 hours a week without over-time or you're out the door too!"

Sadly, since this is the gaming industry, this cheese wad Kotick will not only get away with this abusive behavior, but he'll be rewarded (like you said, it brings in money). In most other industries, when a CEO tries to create a similar culture, the good people jump ship right away (go to the competition, or start their own company), and the average people jump ship as soon as the economy improves, and this works to punish the company by losing a lot of brain power. However, in the gaming industry, all you have to do is license an engine, hire and teach someone from the endless supply of sucker.. er.. talented prospects, and you're right back on track - abusing the new employee.

Re:Activision (3, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332560)

It's always an interesting story when a big company decides to fire people who just made them a load of money.

When are game developers going to understand what the movie-making workers have known for many decades: That they need to be in a union.

Today, just about every body working on the movies you watch is organized. The writers, the directors, the cinematographers, the special-effects people. Notice that this has not "destroyed" the movie industry or even hurt profits one little bit. All it's done is provide some protection to the people who are actually bringing you the goods from the worst impulses of the flabby asses who sit in the boardrooms and CEO suites.

As we've seen with Germany, having the entire workforce unionized is not only good for the workers, but it's good for business and it's good for the entire country's economy. Germany is probably the country in the world with the most favorable labor laws and the strongest unions. Yet, they are also the NUMBER ONE EXPORTING NATION, with exports almost 300% of China's. They're also the country in the EU that has the biggest trade surplus and the most cash in the coffers. When they bail out Greece, it's going to be Germany that puts up the dough.

Here's my new political slogan:
"Socialism: It's Good for Business

Re:Activision (3, Informative)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332940)

300% of China?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_exports [wikipedia.org]

People's Republic of China $1,194,000,000,000
Germany $1,187,000,000,000

Re:Activision (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31333122)

So they are about tied for raw export value. Now consider that there are 16 Chinese for every German. While you also have to consider that the two countries are at different stages of development, to just say they are neck and neck for exports isn't really being honest about it. (You could also consider geographic area instead of per capita productivity since natural resources are a big part of export activity, in which case the ratio is even bigger, 27 to 1 in China's favor). I think it's pretty darn hard to argue that Germany's not doing something right/better than most other nations.

Re: Not everyone who works on movies is unionized (1)

shidarin'ou (762483) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333018)

Visual Effects Artists, arguably the workers directly responsible for the highest grossing films of all time, are not organized.

They're in a very similar position to game developers- short term projects followed by firings, no health care, OT scheduling shenanigans, etc etc.

But all that looks like it might change soon- recent abuses and popularity of VFX movies is making more artists aware that they're getting the raw deal in the movie industry.

http://www.fxguide.com/qt/2187/open-letter-and-animation-guild-updates [fxguide.com]

Re:Activision (5, Insightful)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333282)

Socialism is good for progress. In a climate of rapidly changing technology, a country has to be able to shift gears quickly. Whole outmoded industries need to be able to just die painlessly, without hurting the people in those industries. We need a social safety net so that people can leave old, obsolete careers without fear, and educational programs that will enable us to rapidly retool our society to take advantage of the next big thing.

Re:Activision (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31332784)

It scares me that Starcraft 2 is under this CEO's umbrella.

Re:Activision (1)

Bakkster (1529253) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332850)

Yeah, Activision sounds just lovely. I just keep wondering why Vivendi doesn't put them in shape, but probably it brings money in now. I just hope Activision dies quickly. At least EA has started to bring some innovation again.

And that's the rub. By focusing on time-tested franchises that are basically guaranteed to be profitable, rather than new properties, they increase revenues and reduce risk. Both are good from a corporate standpoint, in general. Unfortunately, creativity doesn't always pay the bills. It just drives home that Activision is a production company that happens to specialize in games, rather than a game publisher.

That said, Kotick obviously understands the downsides of this approach. He even stated he regretted not buying (Rockband Developer) Harmonix when he had [computeran...ogames.com] the chance [kotaku.com] . At some point he needs to expand his franchises, and by being too conservative he ended up passing up one of the best opportunities to come his way. I was expecting that would mean a more balanced approach to Activision's strategy going forward, but this IW shake-up makes me question that prediction...

Re:Activision (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333024)

I will say that it's reassuring that the Infinity Ward team was ready to move past Modern Warfare 2...they are obviously a talented group of people, and it would be nice to see them put together another high budget title that has nothing to do with Call of Duty.

It's weird...as EA has slowly been redeeming itself (they still have a long way to go, but they are better than they were), Activision has been taking over the role as "biggest douche in the industry".

Re:Activision (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333692)

I will say that it's reassuring that the Infinity Ward team was ready to move past Modern Warfare 2...they are obviously a talented group of people, and it would be nice to see them put together another high budget title that has nothing to do with Call of Duty.

The only way to get out of a franchise is to jump ship and create a new company. You are essentially taking a risk that the current company won't. The other thing is only create a new game engine if you have the time talent and a real need. Too many game companies have been hurt by putting too much effort into a new game engine, when they had neither the talent or the cash do to so.

Re:Activision (1)

Darth_brooks (180756) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333064)

Infinity Ward didn't want to work on more Modern Warfare games, as they previously stated, so Activision got angry as they obviously want to milk the cash cow more.

You'd think companies would learn that Activision knows best, especially after those morons at Harmonix jumped ship to do their own thing. Did anything ever happen with that whole "guitar hero with other instruments" thingie they wanted to do?

Re:Activision (1)

hardburn (141468) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333078)

I'm surprised he's so forthright about it. The modern office environment of cubefarms is deliberately designed to induce at least a little stress, because stress tends to focus your efforts in a step-by-step manner.

This method actually makes sense for most office jobs and perhaps even the "codemonkey" developers who generally only work on one part of a larger design at any given time. It's absolutely counterproductive to those who need to make software designs, and I'd imagine even more so for game designs. Those are creative tasks where focus and stress is the enemy. When being creative, you need to see how each portion fits together in a larger system. Step-by-step focus is unhelpful.

Interesting reading on the subject: http://www.the-programmers-stone.com/about/ [the-progra...-stone.com]

Re:Activision (1)

HermMunster (972336) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333142)

A company is legally liable if they list the reason for termination, especially since none of it has been proven. All a company can legally state is that the person was employed and that they are no longer with the company as of a specific date.

I worked for a company that terminated all the developers. They came in to find the doors to their offices rekeyed and locked.

Companies can terminate you for any reason at any time unless contractually obligated to do so otherwise.

Yes, Activision was quite heavy handed on this one.

The employees that were fired are highly employable. If Activision is the company releasing the reasons why they are likely in for a big lawsuit while those employed try hard to recover their reputation.

Obviously... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31331938)

Someone set up them the bomb!

Re:Obviously... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332220)

If you have to use a game quote, I'd have said "Terrorists win".

Re:Obviously... (5, Funny)

CorporateSuit (1319461) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332510)

Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision, dies and goes to Hell. The devil greets him when he arrives and says "Bobby, out of all the people up there, you remind me most of myself, so I'm going to let you choose your punishment for your first thousand years."

The two start at a short hallway labelled "First Timers" and stop at the first door. Inside is an old man, screaming, having his skin peeled off in 1 inch strips. The devil explains "At the beginning of the day, his flesh is renewed. By nightfall, he is nothing but a pile of organs hanging onto a skeleton. This is the only punishment where you get a few hours rest every night." Bobby feels a bit nervous about the long future ahead of him.

They walk to the next door. Inside is an even older man, screaming louder than the first man, and he's slowly being lowered into a vat of acid. The devil explains "This punishment lasts all day. It starts at the toes and works its way up. When you are completely burned away, it starts over. Some say that after the first 800 years, though, it feels more like a massage than a punishment. I suppose it's not so bad if you really enjoyed hot tubs when you were alive." Bobby starts sweating at the thought of his eternal reward.

They come up to the third, and last door of the hallway. Inside is an EXTREMELY old man, screaming at the top of his lungs. A gorgeous young woman, chained to him by the ankle, is giving him a passionate blowjob. The devil grins "This punishment may look like fun, but after the first few hours, you get tired, but you may never rest; not for a thousand years. This punishment is one of endurance. Now that you've seen your choices, which one will it be?" Bobby Kotick doesn't take long to decide which of the punishments he'll undergo.
"I'll take the last one. The blowjob one."

The devil accepts Bobby's choice with a nodded bow, and opens the third door. He enters in, unlocks the chain on the woman's leg and whispers in her ear "Your replacement is here, you've been relieved."

Crypto-news-ology (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 4 years ago | (#31331960)

I'll go way out on a limb and speculate that personality and egos are involved somewhere.

Re:Crypto-news-ology (1)

ravenshrike (808508) | more than 4 years ago | (#31331990)

Personality? Ego? Bobby Kotick? NEVER.

Re:Crypto-news-ology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31331998)

I'll go way out on a limb and speculate that personality and egos are involved somewhere.

Nonsense, the Laws of the Free Market state that egos will always take a back seat to profit-driven self interest. /sarc

Re:Crypto-news-ology (3, Insightful)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332518)

I thought ego was the middle finger of the invisible hand.

Re:Crypto-news-ology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31332564)

I'll go way out on a limb and speculate that personality and egos are involved somewhere.

Speaking of personality and inflated egos, why is the man's employment status public knowledge? Real question. This story seems about as significant and meaningful as the TV shows that (for some reason) give a shit about celebrities' private lives. The only thing unusual is that such unwarranted and pointless attention is usually wasted on people who can sing or act, not on programmers. Really how did this become a news item? Does he call up the news networks every time he gets hired or fired? Can someone explain this to me?

Re:Crypto-news-ology (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333230)

Can someone explain this to me?

You must be newly arrived on planet Earth. Welcome. :-)

When you leave, can you take me with you?

Re:Crypto-news-ology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31333526)

Can someone explain this to me?

You must be newly arrived on planet Earth. Welcome. :-)

When you leave, can you take me with you?

That it happens is not new. A single good explanation for why it happens would be new. Got one to share with us?

BOOM! (4, Funny)

hadhad69 (1003533) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332026)

Double kill, nice

Tired of the BS I guess (4, Funny)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332028)

The head of Activision got tired of being P0wed by both Jason West and Vince Zampella using Danger Close with Scavenger and claymores.

Talk about "rage quitting"...

Re:Tired of the BS I guess (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31332788)

The head of Activision got tired of being P0wed by both Jason West and Vince Zampella using Danger Close with Scavenger and claymores.

Talk about "rage quitting"...

One Man Army Pro + Danger Close + Whatever Perk 3 + Your Favorite Tube gun (ACR/FAMAS are a favorite)/Claymore

Unlimited Claymores and Tubes, reloading your ammo after a 3 second OMA switch.

Way more annoying, and how I've gotten every nuke so far.

Re:Tired of the BS I guess (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31333150)

Sad I know that strategy does work :/

It seems as if... (1)

TakeoffZebra (1651327) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332060)

Connection to host was lost.

Re:It seems as if... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31332900)

YYYYYEEEEEEAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH

One of them (5, Funny)

adml_shake07 (1757848) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332114)

probably whispered "union" and he and all his close contacts were immediately fired.

Re:One of them (1)

cryfreedomlove (929828) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332150)

probably whispered "union" and he and all his close contacts were immediately fired.

Are you advocating that software developers form a union?

Re:One of them (1)

adml_shake07 (1757848) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332208)

nope nope, most certainly not! I would never say that my employer demands unfair hours for low pay, or that my co-workers and I feel abused! Rubbish.

Re:One of them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31332410)

So you'd rather be required to pay a modest sum to an organization which eventually will exist only to further its own interests?

Re:One of them (1)

mordenkhai (1167617) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332486)

Taxes are modest now? Oh I misunderstood which organization we were talking about, my mistake.

Re:One of them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31333270)

it's funny how well people have been raised to work against their own interests just to combat the Evil Unions. In the mean time while you're avoiding paying a modest sum to an organization which eventually will exist only to further its own interests, you're getting shafted by an employer who exists only to further his own interests.

Re:One of them (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332284)

Considering the conditions in game programming, I'd probably say it would not surprise me.

Re:One of them (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332306)

I do.

Re:One of them (1)

cryfreedomlove (929828) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332492)

Would participation in the union be compulsory for the programmers?

Re:One of them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31333474)

Why would participation in a union be compulsory?

Re:One of them (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332286)

probably whispered "union" and he and all his close contacts were immediately fired.

If that were true, then both of them would have some pretty serious lawsuit material. It's against the law for firing someone for wanting to unionize. Yeah, you can cover up the firing by giving another reason, but there are plenty of lawyers who would take the case (and win) anyway, since the feds are inclined to look suspiciously at any firing in close proximity to a unionization attempt.

Re:One of them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31332842)

Citation? I don't believe there's much US federal law that protects unionization, and there are many states where the laws are extremely hostile to unions and workers.

Good. (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332118)

These guys will have no problem getting another job, and they won't have to work under Activision anymore.

Re:Good. (1)

hadhad69 (1003533) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332152)

There's probably a clause in their contracts that stops them touching a computer for 6 months after leaving.

Re:Good. (1)

zero0ne (1309517) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332218)

Yeah, except they were terminated... wouldn't that mean the contract is null and void?

Re:Good. (1)

Kagato (116051) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333272)

No, well written contracts typically are set up so that is one section is in default the other sections are still in force.

Re:Good. (5, Informative)

Tairgire (1037290) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332256)

Infinity Ward is in California, where non-compete clauses are automatically void. I believe (though I'm not an expert by any means) that they can get back to work immediately should an offer present itself.

Re:Good. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31333626)

Non-competes often do not apply if you are fired. Typically they're designed to keep you from quitting the company and leaving with their information and clients in tow with your own plans to screw them over. If they fire you though, it's their own damn fault when you leave... you still need to make a living somehow.

Re:Good. (1)

Type-R (8130) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332288)

Good thing that contract expired the moment they were fired then! :)

Re:Good. (1)

Samrobb (12731) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332302)

Unless their contracts are really odd, there will be some sort of compensation associated with the non-compete clasue... so, if they do have that kind of contract, they should end up getting paid for those six months of doing nothing.

Nothing, that is, except consider the next game they will start to build for somebody other than Activision, once those six months are up.

So, basically, Activision is kick starting their competition.

Re:Good. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31332602)

Unless their contracts are really odd, there will be some sort of compensation associated with the non-compete clasue...

Except for that tiny detail that non-competes are invalid in California. Application Group, Inc. v. Hunter Group, Inc. also added precedent that made out-of-state contracts that include non-compete clauses to be invalid.

Re:Good. (5, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332634)

non compete clauses are not enforceable when the clause will cause you undue hardship.

I.E. you are a game programmer, and your clause says you cant program at a competitor. Well EVERYONE is their competitor, there fore the clause is 100% unenforceable.

Remember, just because it's in a contract or a lawyer says it does not make it real nor enforceable. I personally strike out any clause like that, initial next to my strike out and ten sign it. I have never signed a contract that I did not modify.

Re:Good. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31332966)

non compete clauses are not enforceable when the clause will cause you undue hardship.

Non-compete clauses are not enforceable at all in California.

Re:Good. (1)

jpedlow (1154099) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332292)

Who knows, we may even get dedicated server support ;)

Re:Good. (3, Interesting)

kimvette (919543) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332672)

When you're fired, such agreements are usually considered null and void since the employees are acting in good faith but the employer is not.

So does that mean... (3, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332156)

...that I can buy the next MW again and we'll get servers again?

(yes, I'm selfish)

Re:So does that mean... (1)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332222)

I really doubt that was Infinity Ward's decision, but rather something coming from Activision. They're the bad guys here and it would fit them exactly.

Re:So does that mean... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332538)

That's basically what I meant. Yes, the IP of MW might be with Activision, but who cares about the IP? I care about the game, and the game was made by the people who were just kicked out the door.

IP has become something in games, but it's not be-all, end-all. If you take the IP and fire the people that made it to the valuable IP it is, you can squeeze out another crappy knockoff with some cheap hires, maybe even two if you don't blunder too badly, but then your IP is dead. Games are still made by people. Not by the name they're sold under.

Re:So does that mean... (1)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332320)

I'm betting not. Activision Blizzard no doubt still hold the rights.

Re:So does that mean... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332396)

Do you care whether the next MW is called MW? They can keep the IP, it's not like "multiplayer shooter in a modern war setting" is limited to a certain name.

Yes, it won't be called MW. So what? Viral marketing will get the word out that this is the next game from the people of IW, the makers of MW, and that they just can't call it MW but it's still the successor (which they will heavily deny for liability purposes).

Think gamers care too much what it will be called if it plays like MW and feels like MW and looks like MW?

Re:So does that mean... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31333020)

Do you know who the lead developer for Halo CE was? (Wikipedia doesn't.)

Do you know what the next game John Howard made was?

Do you know that despite being much-loved by hard-core players (who loved Halo CE as well) Shadowrun was a commercial flop, in no small part because of the publisher (Microsoft)?

These guys could well go on to make more great games (assuming you consider MW great), but it relies on more than just them.

Activision's SEC filing mentioned litigation (1)

alen (225700) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332164)

i bet these guys didn't like the no personal server part and slipped some code in or left some code from earlier versions in there and leaked it to the internet.

Re:Activision's SEC filing mentioned litigation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31332428)

i bet these guys didn't like the no personal server part and slipped some code in or left some code from earlier versions in there and leaked it to the internet.

I wish.

It's far more likely this was just a cheap way of getting rid of them.

Re:Activision's SEC filing mentioned litigation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31333014)

You're an idiot. More likely they wanted to work on something new instead of making Call of Duty 10: Modern Warfare 6.

Surprised. (1)

neptunusmaris (1466809) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332192)

They didn't take a "Last Stand" after Kotick gave them both a sniper shot to the head? ...Really?

Re:Surprised. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31332328)

Final Stand would let them get back up again after a bleed-out.

wow, they even didn't try to hide main reason (5, Interesting)

postmortem (906676) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332268)

In a nutshell, developers had better vision for products and keeping niche on right track than management, so managmeent fired them.

They were fired because... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31332322)

I'm sure performance isn't the issue. If I had to take a guess I'd say that breaches of contract and insubordination were probably the reason.

Rumor has it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31332380)

There was a comment on the Kotaku article about the firings possibly being the result of a failure by IW to release DLC for Modern Warfare 2. Supposedly, Activision wanted a wave of DLC to come out on the same day as Battlefield Bad Company 2 (a self-proclaimed MW2-killer) and the IW devs said they couldn't deliver.

Justified. . . (0)

jlb0057 (1143241) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332404)

if either of these guys had anything to do with creating the Heartbeat Sensor. And Mr. Kotick, could you please come off the "thrift" long enough to fund an MW2 stats site similar to bungie.net?

Awesome! (3, Funny)

Kingrames (858416) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332488)

Jason, Vince, if you can read this, form your own company and hire me - please!

Wanted for Questioning (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31332502)

http://images.allmoviephoto.com/2006_Grandma%27s_Boy/2006_grandma_boy_wallpaper_001.jpg

Sounds Familiar (1)

Lord_Jeremy (1612839) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332594)

This sort of reminds me of what went on with Microsoft and Bungie. Bungie made a great game (Halo, though that's not to say their others weren't also great) and Microsoft wanted to milk that into oblivion. Fortunately, now Bungie has split and they seem to be back on track to their original designs. (I was a big fan of Marathon)

WTF? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31332614)

No story about PSN being down for 24 hours, yet? That fucking sucked!

Unexpectedly? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31332622)

"Unexpectedly"? How on earth was their firing "unexpected" at all? They're good developers, they have good idea, and they were working for a company in the ownership umbrella of Activision. That should've tipped them off right there...

Has anybody else around here lost their job? (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332948)

I'm actually more interested in the fate of folks around here than these obscure guys.

Why is this news? (0, Troll)

pvera (250260) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333192)

Are these the only two programmers in this field that lost their jobs today? Not really.

Are these two responsible for writing all the code in the game? Not really, it takes hundreds of people to put out even a mediocre game. There are more QA people in just one game than the total number of programmers I have worked with for the past 10 years.

Plus lets be realistic here, they are lead developers, which means they probably spent most of their days riding the damn phones. I am a lead programmer and there are days that pass without me being able to write one damn line of code, and my projects are tiny in comparison to a retail video game.

By all of the noise published so far about this, one would believe that these two are being canned due to nefarious purposes. Maybe they kept forgetting to use the new TPS cover sheets. Or they said the wrong thing to the wrong exec. If you think that you are "essential" to the company, figure out if the company has key man insurance on you. If they don't, then you probably aren't.

Re:Why is this news? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31333512)

They are not programmers or lead developers.
They were co-founders and Chief Technology Officer/President and the Studio Head/Chief Creative Officer of the company.
Which I guess means they were in charge of everyone at Infinity Ward, or pretty high up anyway.
Before they were acquired, that would make them senior management. Afterwards, middle management.
Since their titles included "game director" I guess that means they also liked to dabble with the design when time permitted.

Anyway, the fight is less likely about TPS cover sheets and more likely about the allegation that Activision has made $1 billion in revenues from the studios game and not paid a penny in royalties.
And of course the original Activision (before Kotick bought the brand name and got rid of the company) was founded because Atari didn't give their people no respect...

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