Two More Members of Infinity Ward Go AWOL

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According to Kotaku last night, the development studio responsible for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 has apparently seen the exodus of two more members.  Lead Designer Todd Alderman and Lead Software Engineer Francesco Gigliotti appear to be no longer working at Infinity Ward, if the screen caps from LinkedIn are accurate. Alderman’s responsibilities included not only the uber-popular multiplayer component of MW2 but also its single-player story.

Meanwhile, Jason West and Vince Zampella–the former IW studio heads ousted by Activision brass a few weeks ago–haven’t yet announced a next move, but they are now being represented by Hollywood super-agency CAA. It remains to be seen whether Zampella, West, Alderman and Gigliotti will reunite under some new venture.

With the exit of Alderman and Gigliotti, we’re most likely seeing the beginning of a cycle that’s played out before in video game development. A big business shakedown–like acquisition or firing–happens and the core team that created a particular studio’s winning formula starts to dissipate. The most famous example of this may be when Rare was acquired by Microsoft, after having been a rock solid production unit for Nintendo during the N64 era. Individual members of development studios still aren’t household names. But, the major difference between the way Rare then and Infinity Ward now is the amount of data-mining the Internet affords observers now.

Of course, the larger business impact may be regard to the quality of COD:MW2 offerings yet to come. It’s unclear if the Stimulus Package DLC that came out last week will be the last piece of Modern Warfare content to bear the imprimatur of Infinity Ward’s inner circle. But whoever makes what follows it up will have high expectations to meet.