Kotick: Activision had “no choice” in IW firings

Activision CEO Bobby Kotick didn’t see a choice in the early March Infinity Ward sackings, he said on the company’s Q1 2010 earnings call yesterday afternoon. The publisher says it was left with “no choice” other than to remove studio heads Jason West and Vince Zampella from their positions.

“We felt we had no choice but to terminate the Infinity Ward executives,” said Kotick. “There was no gray area, as talented as they might have been.”

The decision had nothing to do with the company’s unwillingness to pay out bonuses, he adds, and even though he considered the pair personal friends, “there was nothing that would have allowed us to retain them, we did this to protect the company’s assets and the interest of our shareholders.”

Since the firings took place, approximately 35 developers have left the Modern Warfare 2 developer — roughly half of whom have joined West and Zampella’s new EA-backed Respawn Entertainment — and, while Kotick wishes they could have convinced “some of these incredibly talented people to stay,” he admits that more people are likely to follow.

For those who’ve decided to stay at the crumbling studio however, Kotick has nothing but good words: “The team in Infinity Ward today is comprised of some of the most talented people in the video game industry. They’re an incredibly well-respected group who are motivated and, obviously, extraordinarily capable.”

“We have a great place and a great team in place at Infinity Ward, which continues to work on downloadable content and the studio’s next unannounced project [Modern Warfare 3]. We continue to support the culture of excellence that has defined Infinity Ward, and we’re already strengthening the studio with additional talent and financial resources.”