Today's Update On The Great Modern Warfare Developer Bailout

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 developer Infinity Ward continues its slow crumble today with the departure of two more key team members, sources close to the studio tell Kotaku.

Longtime Infinity Ward employees Mark Grigsby and Paul Messerly have both left the studio, the team's lead animator and lead character animator. Grigsby had been with Infinity Ward from 2005, spending more than five years at the company. Messerly was there from the very beginning, moving from former Medal of Honor developer 2015 Inc to Infinity Ward. Both former employees have updated their LinkedIn profiles to confirm that April 2010 marks the end of their tenures at the studio.

Former lead animator Mark Grigsby may also be familiar to Call of Duty fans as the inspiration for and voice actor of Staff Sergeant Griggs from Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. He's also the guy who rapped over the end credits of that game.

The departure of Grigsby and Messerly leaves Infinity Ward at least 13 employees weaker since March 1. That number includes high level staffers like fired studio founders Jason West and Vince Zampella, plus a quickly growing list of team leads and veteran developers.

According to sources close to the studio, morale at Infinity Ward is unsurprisingly low due to a worrying lack of leadership.


    This really makes me wonder what's going on. Are all these people leaving going to show up at Respawn eventually? If so is that going to cause some issue as I'm sure the contracts of the main two guy have clauses about poaching staff.

    If not, what is it a bad place to work, are Activision making things unbearable? Are people tired of working on modern warfare(conveniently all at the same time), are people being pushed out? Or has every member of the Infinity Ward production team now have agents and everyone is getting hired out?

      they will turn up at respawn in 3 years time.

      I'd say Respawn will do its original IP for 3 years then get all its old crew together and do something else rad with more people

      i think that activision would have to prove they were indeed poached, and that they didnt leave because of activision and there crazyness

      I would say there most likely to show up after the activision trial would be over anyways

      But the way it stands now they could use alot of other reasons for quitting and whatnot like hostile work enviroment

      When you see two of your best friends screwed over by a company you tend to not want to work for that company anymore.

      Plus IW is sick of producing COD games and thats all Activ wants them to do.

      I think IW is a sinking ship

      I think they'll go to respawn.

      But I think the reason none of these people have declared where they're going is so Respawn can "interview" them for positions, rather than appointing them directly... which probably would be interperated as poaching.
      Also, how enforcable is a contract clause about hiring staff?

        Poaching generally refers to the staff being approached for a new job. Nothing can be done about the staff approaching another company.

      But they're not poaching staff who wish to join the new studio for their own reasons.

        They already stated publicly they have not been allowed by
        contract to approach their former colleagues... However their former colleagues ARE allowed to approach THEM legally 100%. won't stop acti trying to claim otherwise though...

    The Infinity Ward Crisis, or CoDGate, looks set to drag on for months, if not years. With the future of the lucrative Modern Warfare franchise up in the air, these guys probably don't want to be left in a holding pattern at IW while the legal issues get sorted out.

    If I remember correctly, West and Zampella's suit will give them control over any CoD title set 'post-Vietnam, in the present, near future or far future' - that's the entire Modern Warfare franchise. I guess if these guys stay, Activision will have them working on another WW2 title to fill in the downtime while they wait for the MW IP to be viable again.

      Despite the suit existing Activision is still allowed to build 'modern' call of duties.

      For Z and W to stop that they would have to get a court injuction.

      The way i see it, Z and W went for their 'perfect' win scenario as their demands. They know activision won't want to take this to court as injuctions could very well occur and they want to start negotiations for an out of court settlement with the highest demands possible and work backwards.

      I highly doubt this will go to court. As for employment contracts. Z and W were contractors not employees to activision. This was confirmed in the original court documents. Therefore the employment contract can not bar them going to work for other companies and in fact the main dispute about Z and W talking to EA is null and void because they are contractors and as such in a free market have the right to talk to them.

      The main problem may come from the lower level employees who could have clauses in there. Only problem is if Activision wants to enforce those clauses then they have to pay them out. If the clause says can't work for a competitor for six months, then activision has to pay 6 months salary to that employee to uphold the clause otherwise the employee goes to an Industrial Relations court and says this is a restriction of trade which is highly illegal and the court smacks Activision hard.

        Until we know the full specifics of their individual contracts, we dont know if those contracts contained exclusivity clauses and of what nature. For eg someone contracted to work for Coca Cola will generally not be allowed to do ANY work for rivals like Pepsi, and this will be reflected in the contracting.

        For games dev (or anything so heavily IP dependant- which is often mostly conceptual and not necessarily based on measurable assets)- I would be very surprised if Activision- the biggest dev in the world, remember did not have such protections built-in.

        But nothing would surprise me.

        What does make me laugh is when people make out that IW employees are shackled and so horribly abused by the Acti-Bliz Bad Wolf. These same people are often the ones who bash MW2 at every opportunity and then go in to bat for the people who made it. I know we cut down tall poppies in this country, but wow. If you want to get so political and moralistic in your games, dont buy their products. Im sure Activision will be fine. Just dont sit there trolling on a Mac or a PC, wearing Nikes and slurping your Coke. That's called hypocrisy.

    good on 'em

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