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Respawn's Jason West and Vince Zampella

Life after Infinity Ward.

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Image credit: Eurogamer

It was a day that began like any other. Which is to say that it began with every website in the Western world parroting more accusations from the three-ring circus that is Activision's ongoing legal battle with former Infinity Ward bosses Jason West and Vince Zampella.

It wasn't long though before we learned that West and Zampella - fired by Activision last month - have formed a new company called Respawn Entertainment and that they have signed a multi-game deal with EA Partners, under which they will retain ownership of any intellectual property they create.

And then it wasn't much longer after that that Eurogamer got on the phone with West and Zampella - who are at such an early stage of their venture that they don't even have an office yet, let alone any employees or game ideas - and got to try and pry some answers from them about the Infinity Ward debacle.

"Vince and Jason wanted to stress how happy they were to have the opportunity to speak with you, because the European gaming community is so important to them," their publicist told us afterward. "They were also hoping that you might mention that they are looking to hire multi-lingual community managers so that they can get unfiltered input from European gamers in their native languages."

Jason West will act as president of Respawn Entertainment, while Vince Zampella is general manager. They're joined in our interview by EA Partners' David DeMartini.

EurogamerSo then, to paraphrase a famous interview question, what first attracted you to multi-billionaire publisher Electronic Arts?
Vince Zampella

[General laughter.] Hi, this is Vince. Uh, I don't know if you know this, but we were fired.

Call of Duty 2 was a major success on Xbox 360, helping to pave the way for Infinity Ward's greater successes with Modern Warfare.
EurogamerReally? Tell me about that!
Vince Zampella

So, you know, the situation was kind of forced on us, so once that happened the next day we were flooded with calls and emails from publishers interested in working with us, which came at a great time for us and obviously in a tough situation, so people showing that much interest in us really helped us get through it.

Jason West

Absolutely. We had a lot of offers come our way and deals were presented to us, and we looked at it and we really thought the EA Partners would give us the freedom and independence we needed to make great games. They respected our culture, and we own the IP, so we can make sure it's treated with the respect it deserves.

EurogamerI realise you can't talk about the Activision divorce very much, and I know your attorney has responded to the latest round of accusations and so on, but how do you feel about people you spent seven years working for calling you "insubordinate and self-serving schemers"?
Vince Zampella

It sucks. Horribly.

Jason West

Yeah, we think it's false and outrageous and we're glad we're able to now move on and focus on the future.

EurogamerIs there anything else in their claims you can address? They said you held Modern Warfare 3 hostage, for instance. It's pretty venomous stuff.
Vince Zampella

False and outrageous and that's all we really have to say about it.

Jason West

We're here to reboot, start this new company and do our thing. You know we love gaming, it's in our blood, it's what we do, so we're really glad to be able to get back to it.

EurogamerLeaving aside specific stuff, do you anticipate other people from Infinity Ward joining you at Respawn?
Jason West

We're kicking off our hiring today and then we'll announce the make-up of the team at a future date.

EurogamerYour press release says you will own your IP, but it seemed like some of the friction at your previous studio came through other areas like marketing - I remember Robert Bowling once went mental because of something Treyarch referred to IW's COD games, for instance. How much control do you retain over how your games are publicised and marketed under this arrangement with EA?
David DeMartini

I think everything we do with all of our partners is a large collaboration, so I certainly can't speak to the past, but on a going forward basis I think we view this as a significant collaboration and much as the guys will independently head down the path, come up with an idea for the IP... I mean, this is a little unusual - they've signed an arrangement, they're going to come up with the idea, they're going to come up with the team - so I think what we talk about is today is day one, I think they need to put a team in place, I think they need to come up with some ideas, and then we'll worry about what the best way is to promote and market the games once we have an idea that can be shared.