Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is a controversially gory video game that achieved record sales, leading us to admire the innovation from the game’s developers, Infinity Ward. But admiration–and a billion dollars in sales–wasn’t enough to save the jobs of the franchise’s outspoken creators.
Activision has fired the two leads at Infinity Ward, Jason West (the director of the series) and Vince Zampella (the CEO), apparently over creative differences about the future of the franchise. The pair’s insubordination, cited by Activision as one reason for their ousting, didn’t help. In the hours since then, Activision has announced a new Call of Duty business unit to focus on developing the franchise in different directions.
Activision only needs to continue selling the existing games and spin-offs from the franchise to sustain its current bottom line. Even a quarter of Modern Warfare 2‘s sales would be considered a success for most video game titles on the market. But by sacrificing the two creative leads behind the series, Activision may be dooming the franchise’s future. The existing entries in the Call of Duty franchise that were not developed by Infinity Ward (such as 2008’s World at War) received critical reviews. This new move may sour fans more and make them look at ALL future entries of the franchise as not being “real” Call of Duty games. The sales on all titles may drop–turning one of the top moneymakers in gaming into an also-ran.
How can Activision restore fans’ faith in the franchise without two of its creators? Will new leads at Infinity Ward foster a rebirth of creativity on the title? Activision remains quiet on the matter.