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Why West, Zampella didn't sign with THQ

"One point in the contract" scuppered deal.

Sacked Call of Duty creators Jason West and Vince Zampella would have signed with publisher THQ but for one dealbreaker.

That's according to Danny Bilson, the outspoken boss of core games at THQ.

In April last year the ex-Infinity Ward bosses created a studio called Respawn Entertainment and announced an exclusive partnership with EA as part of the EA Partners program.

Crucially, this meant that West and Zampella would retain ownership of their own IP.

It was this issue that prevented the high-profile pair from signing with THQ, according to Bilson.

"I believe we have the best place to work for creative people," Bilson told Eurogamer at THQ's Gamers' Day event in New York.

"And if you ask those two guys you just mentioned where they would have preferred to work but for one deal point in a contract, they would have liked to join our team, too. But I couldn't give them a certain thing that EA could in the deal."

And what was that certain thing? "It has to do with IP ownership and some stuff around that."

EA Partners boss David DeMartini – the man who signed West and Zampella following their dismissal and legal dispute with Activision, told Eurogamer last year that he would have lost his job had he not snapped up the Call of Duty creators.

"If I hadn't of got a hold of those guys through the agent, I would have been fired," he said.

"But everybody in my position did exactly the same thing. As soon as they were gone from Activision and it hits the wires, I'm sure THQ was there and EA was there and Take-Two was there and Ubi was there and everybody was talking to them. We just happened to have the right pitch."

THQ had more luck with ex-Assassin's Creed main man Patrice Désilets, who became studio head of THQ Montreal after leaving Ubisoft. How did Bilson do it?

"What we did was build a culture and a system that supports creative first. That's all we did," Bilson said.

"We said, 'We're going to support your vision and we're going to build out from that. We're not going to impose our vision on you.'"

Désilets approached THQ through CAA [creative Artists Agency]. "And then he went everywhere, like all these guys do."

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Wesley Yin-Poole


Wesley worked at Eurogamer from 2010 to 2023. He liked news, interviews, and more news. He also liked Street Fighter more than anyone could get him to shut up about it.