Predictably, the Internet rumor mill is abuzz after Activision fired the two studio heads from Modern Warfare 2 developer Infinity Ward yesterday, citing "insubordination." We'll probably never know definitively what really happened to cause such a drastic action on the part of Activision's management, but here are a couple of particularly startling nuggets that would put an interesting spin on the situation, if they turned out to be true.
Over at CNBC, Chris Morris plunges into the murky waters of the financial world:
[Activision] did not reveal further details for the action and did not return calls for comment. Broadpoint AmTech analyst Ben Schachter, in a note to analysts, pointed out, though, that there has been recent chatter on Wall Street “regarding possible M&A [mergers and acquisitions] interest about Infinity Ward from private equity firms and others.”
Was Infinity Ward pondering a break from its parent company and back to independence, the way Bungie did a few years ago? That sort of behind-the-scenes maneuvering would seem to imply that. Plus, anytime you invoke "Wall Street" things start sounding really heavy and important.
Then Binge Gamer goes and makes the claim that Activision hasn't paid Infinity Ward any royalties yet, out of the mind-boggling billion-plus dollars the game has brought in to date. Of course, we have no idea what kind of royalty agreement was even in place (if any), but what's one more log on a roaring inferno at this point?
Infinity Ward has yet to be paid a single dime in royalties for Modern Warfare 2, which has earned Activision over one billion dollars in revenue. (NOTE: To clarify, everyone who spoke with me mentioned this. Whether or not IW and Activision had an agreement in place for royalty payments is unknown at this time. It’s just curious that everyone brought this up.)
Anyway, unless somebody makes a public statement clarifying exactly what went on yesterday and in the preceding weeks, this is all just grist for the mill. We'll probably never know for sure. But when something this hard to believe happens, you must attempt to rationalize it somehow. In a world where God of Warfare may be on the horizon, you'll make sense of this stuff any way you can.