Working on Modern Warfare 3 following the departure of studio heads Jason West and Vince Zampella in early 2010 was “an extremely tough time” according to the game’s producer Mark Rubin.
46 staff, almost half of Infinity Ward’s payroll, left the studio following the dismissal of heads West and Zampella for “breaches of contract and insubordination” in March 2010.
When asked by Eurogamer how the studio rebuilt itself following the loss of so many key team members, Rubin quipped, “Alcohol!” before admitting, “it was actually an extremely tough time for all of us, as I’m sure you can imagine.”
Senior staff were among those who walked out, including programmer Jon Shiring, designer Mackey McCandlish, software engineer Francesco Gigliotti and lead designer Todd Alderman. Shiring had spent six years at Infinity Ward, Gigliotti seven, and Alderman and McCandlish eight.
However, Rubin was quick to point out that many of the core staff that have worked on the Call of Duty and Modern Warfare titles, including himself, stayed on at the studio.
“We didn’t lose anyone from the audio team,” he revealed, “while very few of the artists and animators left.
“In fact, a surprising number of staff stayed with us, enabling us to retain all of the institutional knowledge we have built up as a studio.”
His comments echoed those made by publisher Activison last year, saying “a deep bench of proven talent” remained at Infinity Ward ready to work on “exciting new projects.”
West and Zampella are still embroiled in a court case against Activision over “substantial royalty payments” that the publisher allegedly failed to pay them in the weeks leading up to their firing.
Meanwhile, a counter suit from Activision claims that its actions in firing the two were justified, calling the men “self-serving schemers”.
Additionally, 38 former Infinity Ward employees have a case against Activision seeking between $75 million and $125 million in compensatory damages for allegedly unpaid bonuses for work on Modern Warfare 2.
Why can’t we all just get along?