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Analyst: Infinity Ward To Be 'Essentially Closed' After Next Map Pack?
Analyst: Infinity Ward To Be 'Essentially Closed' After Next Map Pack?
April 28, 2010 | By Leigh Alexander

April 28, 2010 | By Leigh Alexander
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More: Console/PC



With so many high-profile defections from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 studio Infinity Ward -- not to mention two separate lawsuits brought against publisher Activision by co-founders and former employees -- the studio's future may be in question, says one analyst.

"Continued defections from their Infinity Ward studio have created meaningful uncertainty around the future of their Call of Duty: Modern Warfare franchise," says Janco Partners analyst Mike Hickey of Activision's current prospects.

According to Hickey, amid lawsuits and widespread employee defections, the outlook's not good: "We expect Infinity Ward studio will be essentially closed after their next map pack release, with development work on Modern Warfare 3 spread between two studios not historically tied to the franchise," he says.

Infinity Ward has already launched one of two promised map packs for Modern Warfare 2 -- the Stimulus Pack DLC sold 1 million units on Xbox Live on its first day, and 2.5 million units in its first week.

Modern Warfare 3, Hickey says, could hit in Activision's fiscal fourth quarter of 2011 and earn $738 million in sales, or about 15 percent of Activision's non-GAAP annual sales performance, Hickey estimated.


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Comments


Sander van Rossen
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Wouldn't be surprised, considering that IW is now essentially decapitated.

gus one
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This was alway inevitable. It was only a question of how many map packs. ATVI have the IW4.0 engine already. Another of their studios could easily bang out a MW3 in 9 months so the Nov 2011 target is not in jeapardy at all. Lets face it they were hardly original games - in fact everything IW did was not original - hence my surprise why people hold West/Zampella is such high esteem. What do you really think they are going to do at Respawn.... CoD copied MoH AA twice. They then took it to present day (hardly original) and banged out 2 of them. For MW3 as long as ATVI throw in lots of SAS and big set pieces MW3 ex IW will sell just as many whether the majority of developers on this website like it or not.

R G
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@gus--- Yeah. You hit the nail.



It's so funny. If you really think about it, they've recycled numerous things from MoH: AA, but mostly CoD 1. MW was just a mod from CoD1, and even the maps Wet Works from CoD4, Wastelands and Bailout from MW2 are directly from the mod.



Not saying it's a bad thing (CoD4 was much better than the mod, and it was a direct nod to the fans).



Activision knows that the pre-teens will eat up anything that rhymes with Modern Warfare and Call Of Duty.



Best of luck to the ex-IW staff.

Rafael Vazquez
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Correct me if I'm mistaken, but wasn't there a contract stating that only Infinity Ward could develop the Modern Warfare IP; if they close the studio, the IP goes with it right? or can they really just give the modern warfare license to another studio?

Kevin Jones
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@ gus one



:"For MW3 as long as ATVI throw in lots of SAS and big set pieces MW3 ex IW will sell just as many whether the majority of developers on this website like it or not. "



How much you wanna bet on that one?

Latest releases of games in a franchise series don't necessarily sell as many as the previous releases.

Red Steel for example, sold over 100K in its first week, while Red Steele 2 sold only 50,000 in its first month, despite being a better product than the first one, and having plenty of TV ads, and despite a selling to a bigger Wii install base.

Plus of course CoD WaW (albeit it was from a different studio), sold less than COD4 even though when WaW was released, the install base of the 360 and especially the PS3 was much bigger.

With a big chunk of the lead, most talented staff at IW already leaving, I'd be very surprised if MW3 ends up as good as MW2 was, or sells as many units as the massive sales that MW2 got. Very few games will ever sell as many as MW2 did in this or any generation.

It's not the so much the name of the game that sells it. It's more to do with how really good and addictive the game is, especially the multi-play aspect when it comes to shooters, plus word of mouth, etc.

Kevin Jones
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@ Rafael Vazquez



"Correct me if I'm mistaken, but wasn't there a contract stating that only Infinity Ward could develop the Modern Warfare IP;"



Infinity Ward and Modern Warfare IP are both owned lock, stock and barrel by by Activision. They can do whatever they like with the IP. It's kinda like how Microsoft owns the "Halo" IP, and will probably develop the next Halo games themselves from 343 Industries (not the now independent Bungie), after Reach ships.

Kale Menges
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Power to Respawn.

ken sato
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It is true that Activision owns the IP and brand but that is not the question. The question is of compensation for work done and additional terms added to receive final payment.



(1) What seems to be confused continually is whether this is about ownership; that is incorrect. The focus is on payments, bonuses, or--a term any corporation hates!!!--'royalties' is incorrectly applied as this does not dispute ownership. As far as I can see from any of the documentation, no one is disputing ownership.



(2) Intellectual property tied to a studio?!?! Seriously? (No offense intended.) Think it through.



(3) Inevitable? You must be joking. Activision had a history of acquiring development studios and ensuring continued development with or without the founders. That was what distinguished it from EA at time, the ability to continually develop successful titles after purchase.



Note: Joystiq has posted the legal briefs for the class action suit against ATVI.



Finally, I ask the question I've been asking for a while: Why now? What's changed?



There's a story here and I'm hoping that some vestige of investigative journalism crops up.

[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Vipul Patil
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@ Gus

"Lets face it they were hardly original games - in fact everything IW did was not original - hence my surprise why people hold West/Zampella is such high esteem."



Though i do not deny what you are trying to say. Still you seem to miss the fact that even the later installments of Moh series copied from the original but they were never even half as good as Cod.



Thats probably the reason, West/Zampella are held in such high esteem.



I believe that there are 2 ways to stand out -

1. do what no one has done before.

2. Do what everyone is doing, but do it far better than the others.



I think they did the second. And i am hoping they do the first at Respawn.

Henrick Stankenheim
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Two comments:



1. (@Dave Smith): COD3 was a steep drop in quality when the series went to Treyarch and it didn't stop COD4 from exploding its sales to new heights or COD5 (WaW) from hitting huge sales when Treyarch raised the bar to something more respectable with their second COD release. Assuming that a shoddy MW3 (not a guarantee BTW) will kill the brand is naive.

2. (@Kevin Jones): Kep in mind that 343 Industries is formed of many ex-Bungie staffers that decided to stay with the Halo franchise, including Frank O'Connor who wrote most of the game stories. I'm not saying that IW or even Treyarch will have anything like that but to characterize what is happening with IW/MW as anything even close to Halo is totally wrong.

Daniel Martinez
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Damnit... I know people working there.

Henrick Stankenheim
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And if there was ever anything to further differentiate Bungie from 343 - they just signed a deal with Activision. lol

R G
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Dear Activision,



Please get blown up by the proverbial "kid in an X-Wing".



Love (or hate),



Robert Gill

Tim Braslavsky
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Its amazing that despite such obvious problem activision refuses to change their strategy. It seems as though that until all of their employees walk out they won't learn their lesson.


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