Infinity Ward

Infinity Ward, Inc. is an American video game developer. They developed the video game Call of Duty, along with seven other installments in the Call of Duty series. Vince Zampella, Grant Collier, and Jason West established Infinity Ward in 2002 after working at 2015, Inc. previously.[2][3] All of the 22 original team members of Infinity Ward came from the team that had worked on Medal of Honor: Allied Assault while at 2015, Inc. Activision helped fund Infinity Ward in its early days, buying up 30 percent of the company.[4] The studio's first game, World War II shooter Call of Duty, was released on the PC in 2003. The day after the game was released, Activision bought the rest of Infinity Ward, signing employees to long term contracts. Infinity Ward went on to make Call of Duty 2, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Call of Duty: Ghosts, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and the Modern Warfare reboot.

Infinity Ward, Inc.
IndustryVideo games
FoundedMay 2002 (May 2002)
  • Grant Collier
  • Jason West
  • Vince Zampella
ProductsCall of Duty series (2003–present)
Number of employees
537 (2019)
SubsidiariesInfinity Ward Poland[1]

Co-founder Collier left the company in early 2009 to join parent company Activision. In 2010, West and Zampella were fired by Activision for "breaches of contract and insubordination",[5][6] they soon founded a game studio called Respawn Entertainment. On May 3, 2014, Neversoft was merged into Infinity Ward.[7]


Infinity Ward was founded in 2002.[8][4]

2010 employee firings and departures

Dismissal of senior employees

On March 1, 2010, Activision amended its report with the Securities and Exchange Commission to add notification that two senior employees of Infinity Ward were being fired due to "breaches of contract and insubordination". This coincided with Jason West (Infinity Ward president, game director, co-CCO, and CTO) and Vince Zampella (CEO and co-founder of Infinity Ward) editing their profiles on the website LinkedIn to list Infinity Ward as a former employer as of March 2010. Reportedly, a meeting between Zampella, West, and Activision staff occurred on March 1, after which neither Zampella nor West were seen; this was followed by the arrival of security guards at the studio.[9][10] It was later confirmed by Activision that West and Zampella had been dismissed, and had been replaced on an interim basis by Activision CTO Steve Pearce and head of production Steve Ackrich.[11]

Activision CEO Bobby Kotick addressed Infinity Ward studio heads on March 2, 2010 about Zampella and West's dismissal. A second meeting was held with all of Infinity Ward's employees on hand. The outcomes of those meetings are currently unknown,[12] but Activision has explained that Infinity Ward is still "central" to the future of the Call of Duty franchise. Activision has used a new studio, Sledgehammer Games, to create an "action-adventure" installment of the Call of Duty franchise. However, Activision halted the production of the action-adventure game which was reportedly 2–3 months into production and requested Sledgehammer Games to work side-by-side with Infinity Ward to make Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 instead.

Further departures

Following West and Zampella's firings, nearly half of the remaining Infinity Ward employees resigned. Throughout April and May 2010, 46 employees, among them lead designers and programmers who worked on Modern Warfare 2, abruptly left Infinity Ward. All of them have so far declined to comment on their reasons for leaving.[13]

Infinity Ward "Fully" Reconstructed

Vivendi chairman and CEO Jean-Bernard Lévy stated that Infinity Ward "got over" their problems and are fully reconstructed and that Activision is very happy with the result. The executive went on to say that there will be three studios working on the Call of Duty franchise including the newly formed studio Sledgehammer Games.[14][15]


West and Zampella v. Activision

Following the initial news of West and Zampella's departure, it was reported that Infinity Ward has not received royalties from the sales of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, and that the developer may have breached their contract with Activision by holding meetings with other video game publishers including Electronic Arts.[12][16] This was revealed to be the reason behind the firings when West and Zampella filed a lawsuit against Activision on March 4, 2010 over "substantial royalty payments" that Activision failed to pay them in the weeks leading up to their firing. According to their attorney Robert Schwartz, Activision had hired lawyers to investigate West and Zampella on charges of insubordination and breaches of contract in February, which culminated in their dismissal. West and Zampella's lawsuit was filed to force Activision to compensate West and Zampella for the unpaid royalties, and to secure contractual rights over the Modern Warfare branch of the Call of Duty franchise, among other things.[17] If their lawsuit is successful, West and Zampella could retain the power to halt the development and release of any future games and downloadable content in the Modern Warfare setting.[16]

On April 9, 2010 a countersuit was filed by Activision stating their actions in firing Zampella and West were justified, calling the two "self-serving schemers".[18] Zampella and West's attorney responded to the countersuit the same day saying the publisher's claims are "false and outrageous".[19] The trial date for this case was revealed on July 9, 2010 to be scheduled for May 23, 2011 but was rescheduled for December 14, 2011.[20] It was then rescheduled again for March 29, 2012, and further rescheduled for June 1.[21] On March 31, 2012, the two parties agreed to a confidential settlement.[22] The countersuit mentioned that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 was in development; it was released on November 8, 2011.[23]

Infinity Ward Employee Group v. Activision

On April 27, 2010, 38 current and former employees of Infinity Ward brought a lawsuit against Activision. Calling themselves the "Infinity Ward Employee Group" (IWEG), the plaintiffs seek between $75 million and $125 million in compensatory damages from Activision for unpaid bonuses for work on Modern Warfare 2. The lawsuit alleges that Activision withheld compensation from the plaintiffs in order to force them to stay with the studio and develop Modern Warfare 3.[24] In addition, the plaintiffs are also seeking between $75 million and $500 million in punitive damages.[25] The trial date for this case was revealed on July 9, 2010 to be scheduled for May 23, 2011.[26] Activision issued a check for $42 million although an Infinity Ward Employee Group lawyer, Bruce Isaacs, stated that "although it is a meaningful payment it is only a small portion of what we are seeking in litigation".

Lawsuits against EA, West, and Zampella

Activision amended its lawsuit against West and Zampella to join Electronic Arts (EA) as a defendant on the grounds that EA began a conspiracy with West and Zampella.[27][28] In the complaint, Activision accused Electronic Arts of intentionally interfering with contracts, engaging in unfair competition, and aiding and abetting breaches of fiduciary duty by West and Zampella. The complaint also alleged that West and Zampella refused to sign standard exit documents representing that they had returned all Activision property, including computer code. Activision alleged West and Zampella were "motivated by envy and personal greed" and intentionally released game trailers for Modern Warfare 2 the same day Treyarch posted promotional videos for downloadable content for Call of Duty: World at War. The article also showed a transcript of text message between West and an unnamed Infinity Ward employee.[29] In January 2011, the court was to rule on Activision's petition to join EA as a defendant. The trial date between Jason West and Vince Zampella vs. Activision was set for June 14, 2011 at the Central Civil West Courthouse at 9:00 am, case number SC107041.[20] However several delays pushed the court hearing to the May 29, 2012. Due to problems assembling a jury pool the date was pushed back even further to June 1, 2012, with 22 days to reach a conclusion. The public trial did not go through, and instead a private settlement was made.

Respawn Entertainment

On April 12, 2010 the LA Times reported that West and Zampella were forming a new independent gaming studio known as Respawn Entertainment. They are seeking funding from EA through the EA Partners Program. West and Zampella will incorporate the rights to all intellectual property produced by them in the future.[30][31][32] As of July 10, 2010, 38 of the 46 Infinity Ward employees who resigned from that studio following the firings of West and Zampella revealed through their LinkedIn and Facebook profiles that they had signed on with Respawn Entertainment.[13][33] Respawn's first project, Titanfall, was released in March 2014.

Departure of Robert Bowling, 2012

On March 27, 2012 Robert Bowling issued the following statement on his Twitter account: "Today, I resign from my position as Creative Strategist of Call of Duty, as a lead of Infinity Ward, and as an employee of Activision". In response to this, Activision issued the following statement, "We sincerely thank Robert for his many years of service. He's been a trusted and valued member of the Infinity Ward team. We wish him all the best on his decision to pursue future opportunities".[34] Bowling allegedly left because he was unhappy with the slow evolution of the game, as he responded with "Too much 'pew pew' not enough new new" to a question on the subject.[35]

Signs of disagreement between Bowling and Infinity Ward arose in a live interview with Machinima when he stated the following: "I feel like we are in a fucking 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 good will, like stuff like the LAN patch, yeah it is lower priority but let's get it out the fucking door. Let's just do it." This could be a contributing factor to his resignation. Another factor could have been from the amount of harsh criticism the fans and players of Modern Warfare 3 gave him when certain aspects of the game, such as bugs and tweaks, appeared.[36]


Infinity Ward's first title, Call of Duty won 90 Game of the Year awards[37] and 50 Editor's Choice Awards.[38][39] It also continues to be among the highest-rated games, according to GameRankings.[40] Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare has also enjoyed massive commercial and critical success, selling over 13 million copies from its release in November 2007 through May 2009.[41]

In 2010, Infinity Ward was ranked third by Develop 100 only running up to developer Nintendo and Bungie for the top 100 developers based on the sales of their games in the UK.[42]

Infinity Ward's sequel to Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, earned over $550 million in sales in its first five days on the market, with $310 million of those sales made in the first 24 hours after the game's release.[43]

The sequel to Modern Warfare 2, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, sold 6.5 million copies in the US and UK alone and grossed $400 million within 24 hours of going on sale.[44][45] Despite good sales, the game was criticized for being too similar to its predecessor.

Game engines

All of Infinity Ward's Call of Duty games up until Infinite Warfare (2016) use the id Tech 3 (Quake III Arena) engine.[46] The first two games used a proprietary license of the engine with the sequel featuring more powerful visuals and DirectX 9 support. Infinity Ward's Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare runs on a proprietary game engine (from a version of id Tech 3) with features that include true world-dynamic lighting, HDR lighting effects, dynamic shadows and depth of field.[47] Call of Duty: World at War, Call of Duty: Black Ops II and the James Bond video game Quantum of Solace were developed by Treyarch using modified versions of Infinity Ward's engine.[48]

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, uses an upgraded engine dubbed "IW 4.0", which is a generation more advanced than the engine used in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.[49] Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 uses the MW3 Engine, an improved version of the IW 4.0 engine. Improvements on the engine allow better streaming technology which allows larger regions for the game while running at a minimum of 60 frames per second, improvements to the audio of the engine have also been made.[50]

Modern Warfare (2019 reboot) uses a brand-new engine for the series, allowing for the use of more detailed environments, advanced photogrammetry and rendering, better volumetric lighting, and the use of ray tracing.[51][52] The new engine had been in development five years prior to the release of the game, and was a collaborative effort between the main Infinity Ward studio in California and the new studio in Poland.[53]


TitleEngineRelease datePlatform(s)
Call of Dutyid Tech 3October 30, 2003Windows, Macintosh
Call of Duty 2IW 2.0October 25, 2005Windows, Macintosh, Xbox 360
Call of Duty 4: Modern WarfareIW 3.0November 6, 2007Windows, Macintosh, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2IW 4.0November 10, 2009Windows, Macintosh, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Call of Duty Classicid Tech 3December 2, 2009PlayStation 3 (PSN), Xbox 360 (XBLA)
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (with Sledgehammer Games)MW3 engineNovember 8, 2011Windows, Macintosh, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii
Call of Duty: GhostsIW 6.0[54]November 5, 2013Windows, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Call of Duty: Infinite WarfareIW 7.0November 4, 2016Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Custom in-house engine October 25, 2019 Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One


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