Top Infinity Ward execs part ways with Activision

Modern Warfare 2.I’ve heard in the past that Infinity Ward has a less than cordial relationship with Activision. The shit finally hit the fan this morning, though, when two of IW’s top guys took a hike after meeting with the publisher.

At some point yesterday, Vince Zampella and Jason West met with Activision, after which they didn’t return to IW offices. Instead, a bunch of “bouncer-types” came around, presumably to ensure that neither exec would come back to work. By noon today both Zampella and West had updated their LinkedIn profiles to include Infinity Ward as previous experience.

Kotaku also dug up an SEC filing from yesterday that showed Activision had launched an investigation at IW for “insubordination” and “breaches of contract” regarding “two senior employees.” Activision has since confirmed both departures and announced the formation of a special division dedicated to churning out one Call of Duty game every year. Looks like the company will continue to bank on that franchise as a major source of revenue for as long as it can.

Activision gets almost 70% of its revenue from three franchises

Tauren dance, baby.Activision’s fiscal report for 2009 contained some seriously juicy news. First, there’s the scandal at Infinity Ward. Second, there’s this. The report included statistics regarding the company’s revenue sources, revealing that a large majority, like 68%, come from just three franchises: World of Warcraft, Call of Duty, and Guitar Hero. The report also noted that WoW accounts for a whopping 98% of Blizzard’s revenue.

The obvious concern is for one of those franchises to flop. One bad Call of Duty and suddenly Activision doesn’t look so stable. As the company puts things, “Due to this dependence on a limited number of franchises, the failure to achieve anticipated results by one or more products based on these franchises may significantly harm our business and financial results.” I would say so, fellas.

We already know that rhythm games are on the decline and WoW hasn’t grown in more than a year. No wonder Blizzard’s trying to push Starcraft 2 out the door by mid-year.

Source: Kotaku

Modern Warfare 2 makes a billion bucks

Modern Warfare 2. You know what’s not a bad way to start a new year? How bout announcing that your latest title has sold more than a billion dollars worth. Yes, Modern Warfare 2 has reached that rare milestone among industry developments, and it’s still going strong.

“There are only a handful of entertainment properties that have ever reached the $1 billion mark,” said Activision CEO Bob Kotick, “which illustrates the power of the Call of Duty franchise and mass appeal of this game.” In case you’ve forgotten the baffling sales statistics, more than half of that billion was made in the first five days the game was available. Utterly insane.

In other new, Avatar (the movie, not the game) broke the billion dollar mark not too long ago, putting the two in a race to beat out Titanic’s $1.8 billion gross and Guitar Hero III‘s $2 billion.

Average game development costs $18-28 million

Game development.The explosive growth of the gaming industry has directly translated to the back end, according some analysis done by M2 Research. The group found that average development costs for multi-platform games are deep into the tens of millions, averaging somewhere between $18M and $28M per game.

Single platform titles are still somewhere around the $10M mark, as the research has it. One of the big concerns about the high cost is the strain it puts on employees. Developers are pushed hard to make sure the publisher’s investment is met with solid return.

The return is there, at least on blockbuster titles. Take Modern Warfare 2, for instance. The game cost over $50 million to make but made $550 million in its first five days on the shelves. Average titles don’t always fare so well, and with a struggling economy, it’s easy to see why development houses are a little nervous.

Modern Warfare 2 tops the 2009 US sales list

Modern Warfare 2.NPD put out the sales numbers for 2009 with few surprises. The Xbox 360 version of Modern Warfare 2 was the biggest by far, which should be a real shock. What might actually interest you is that Nintendo has nearly every other title in the top 10. Halo 3: ODST made it in at number six, and the PS3 version of MW2 is buried near the bottom.

Other than those few titles, it’s all Nintendo, and these are just the US numbers. Sony can’t be too happy about the fact that there isn’t an exclusive PS3 title on the list.

    1. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (360)
    2. Wii Fit (Wii)
    3. Wii Sports Resort (Wii)
    4. Mario Kart Wii (Wii)
    5. Wii Play (Wii)
    6. Halo 3: ODST (360)
    7. Pokemon Platinum (DS)
    8. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (PS3)
    9. Madden NFL 10 (360)
    10. New Super Mario Bros. Wii (Wii)

Source: Industry Gamers

Javelin glitch is officially fixed

Modern Warfare 2 Javelin.Modern Warfare 2 is now officially patched for both Xbox 360 and PS3, meaning no more javelin glitch you dirty suicide bombers. Just imagine, exploit-free games of Headquarters Pro. Are you weeping yet?

The patch doesn’t just put the kibosh on super-human-bomb-from-hell-mode, it also fixes that little problem where certain players were receiving unlimited care packages. And while Inifinity Ward was fixing those two, why not get the pesky rock glitch out of the way.

All in all, this is the best thing to happen to MW2 since release. Games are immediately more fun, more fair, and much less of a headache. This also rules out the chance that you might actually pull off a javvy glitch by accident and get yourself a temp ban. Hurray for quick development fixes.

MW2 javelin glitch is grounds for Xbox Live ban

Modern Warfare 2 javelin.If you’re interested in what it feels like to get a temp ban on Xbox Live, go do a little suicide bombing in Modern Warfare 2. As Microsoft’s Stephen Toulouse tweets it: “While IW works on getting the MW2 glitch fixed, people we catch using it will recieve suspensions from LIVE. Play fair everyone.”

Now I understand the idea to an extent – bans because of game ruining – but banning players for something that game developers missed seems a little ridiculous. There are far easier ways to ruin games, like throwing them in your opponents favor, that won’t get you banned (I’m not talking about boosting here). And really, who hasn’t gotten a little tipsy/slaphappy/what-have-you and had a little fun.

I won’t say the glitch isn’t a game breaker. It is. But temp bans on a paid service for a glitch that almost everyone in the game is now aware of? One that really isn’t that hard to stop (how bout you don’t shoot the guy running around with a javy)? This kind of thing makes me want to go eat a glass apple.

Modern Warfare’s Ghost might get a spin-off

Modern Warfare 2's Ghost.I’ve only played through a few levels of the Modern Warfare 2 campaign, but it’s easily some of the best FPS campaigning I’ve enjoyed. Flashy guns, complicated situations, and characters with a whole bunch of issues always makes for an interesting story. Interesting enough, in fact, that Infinity Ward is thinking about giving one of those guys a solo gig. Yes, rumor has it that Ghost, the creeper with the skull mask, just might get his own game.

According to Craig Fairbrass, the voice-actor who played Ghost in MW2, things are looking like this: “I’m now voicing a guy called Ghost, who now just got a spin-off comic of his own and they’re talking about another little game to go with it.” Fans of the series probably got that little six-part comic, but does he mean the same thing by “little game?” Could Infinity Ward be looking at an iPhone game? It doesn’t seem likely that they would make a full-blown spinoff for a series that’s not typically character driven. Who does Ghost think he is, anyway, Master Chief? Puh-lease.

Source: That Video Game Blog

Modern Warfare 2 sells…a whole bunch on day one

Modern Warfare 2 sniper.Alongside the release of Infinity Ward’s Modern Warfare 2 there’s a war of numbers breaking out. Analysts are trying to be the first to pin down a sales estimate, a number that has so far varied by several million units. At first it was Ben Schachter claiming 7 million for day one. Michael Pachter thinks Ben’s crazy, and estimates just 4 million copies for the first day. I’m inclined to trust Pachter, since even he puts things over the top at times.

Whatever the real number, it has a lot of zeroes, and that’s got to make Activision pretty happy. Most analysts still think the 12 million unit estimate for the quarter through December is conservative. That puts total sales by year end somewhere around $700 million, which is just obscene. By comparison, Halo 3 just made it through 8 million units in its first 3 months. As a throwback, Joystiq also mentioned that Street Fighter II, which literally everyone I knew owned, sold 6.3 million units total worldwide.

Hopefully the end of the quarter will bring some hard and fast numbers for us. Until then, go throw some knives at some people. It’s insanely fun.

Modern Warfare 2 pirate arrested

Modern Warfare 2 Bundle.Christian Del Adamo’s plan was simple enough – buy a stolen Modern Warfare 2 bundle before it released, crack the game code, and sell illegal copies for profit. Del Adamo was going to use donations to get the bundle, which he would later repay with copies of the game. He was even talking to a hologram maker to make his copies seem a little less shady. And it all would have worked out if it weren’t for that damn internet.

Activision got word of the idea, which Del Adamo had apparently posted to sites Activision watches, and contacted, who then tracked down our thief using Facebook, of all things. Poor guy had just turned 18 in August, too. Welcome to trial as an adult, Christian.

Detectives in LA busted another guy who admitted to stealing a crate of the console bundles from a retail store and then selling them for $800 on Craig’s List. I’m not sure why I expect these people to show some discretion but I do. Then again, they are trying to steal, copy, and sell what is about to become the biggest entertainment launch of all time, and they’re posting about it publicly. Assuming they’re somewhat interested in gaming, shouldn’t decades of stupid villains have taught these guys something?

Source: Venture Beat

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