Forgive me for being dubious, but I’m quite skeptical of Infinity Ward developing a game for the generation after next-generation. In a recent interview with EDGE (June 25), Infinity Ward executives Steve Ackrich and Mark Rubin reflected back on their experiences over the past decade and openly discussed key events that “defined the studio’s ethos.” They also discussed where the developing studio would go in the future with Call of Duty: Ghosts.
Before I go further, allow me to backtrack a bit. Didn’t a bunch of Infinity Ward employees leaves the studio? Well — yes, they did but that doesn’t mean to say the studio is dead.
According to studio head Steve Ackrich, Infinity Ward did lose a big chunk of employees but he passes it of as a blessing in disguise.
“We lost some exceptionally talented people, there’s no denying that,” Ackrich said. “But this is Infinity Ward; Infinity Ward is here in this building. Yes, we lost some talented people, but in a number of different ways we brought new life and new blood into the studio to try new things.”
There’s allegedly a common assumption that the Infinity Ward studio was disbanded entirely, and that the employees went off to form Respawn Entertainment. While this is only half true, Infinity Ward is still around.
The story behind that is that Activision dismissed Infinity Ward’s original founders Jason West and Vince Zampella was over a breach of contract and insubordination lawsuit. Activision investigated West and Zampella on the grounds of breach of contract and insubordination because – the word is – Infinity Ward may have held meetings with other video game publishers including EA.
It all turned very quickly into a messy lawyer face-off. The word is that after West and Zampella were dismissed the big chunk of employees resigned from Infinity Ward in an uproar. Most of those employees were later picked up by West and Zampella again with Respawn Entertainment.
“It was a confusing time,” Rubin chimed in. “It was a lawyer thing, and lawyers were doing their lawyer business, and for us it was just confusion. There was a period of coming to grips with and understanding what was going on. We didn’t expect to lose as many as we did, but we had a significant number of people who stayed as well.”
Living in ambiguity about your job must be a rather uncomfortable experience. I don’t blame those employees who left for wanting to jump ship in search of better security. Rubin provided some additional closure on the matter.
“Everybody was figuring out for themselves where they wanted to go,” he said. “For some, there was a strong sense that Call Of Duty was the reason they came to Infinity Ward, and that was something they didn’t want to give up on. Some people, right from the beginning, knew how they were going to handle the situation. For others, it was a bit more internal struggle, and so we had a significant number of people leave.For those who stayed, you could see a change in attitude as everyone said, ‘OK, this is a business thing, we’re not going to try to speculate too much; let’s get back to making games.’ Even with that distraction, we had to make a game, and for a lot of us that became our lifeline.”
Now that we’ve got the exposition out of the way, let’s get to the heart of the matter. Fast forwarding a bit in the interview, Rubin explained that Infinity Ward’s current focus is to make Call of Duty: Ghosts future-proof against generational transitions.
“I think the first big mindset change for us was realising that the more we can do to future-proof against transitions, the better,” he said. “We’re not trying to make a game for the next gen or the current gen. We’re trying to make a game for the gen after that. That’s different from the past, where we wanted to be platform agnostic; we wanted a game that was the same on every platform. What we’ve done now is create a game that’s going to look great on every platform individually.”
While I can commend Infinity Ward for braving it through rather uncertain times, I think they’re getting a bit ahead of themselves in saying that they’re trying to make a game for the generation after next-gen. That’s a bit too much of forward-thinking, is it not? Next-gen isn’t even here yet. Sure, ensure you product so it lasts against the test of time (that’s a good thing), but the gen after next-gen could be nearly another decade from now, perhaps even more (and who knows what that’ll bring to the table).
Sure, put some higher-resolution textures in there at native 1080p and what-not, but unless I’m virtually placed within the game in some Virtual Reality simulation then no, your title will not be the game for the gen after next-gen – at least not to me anyway. Good on you, though, for making sure the game will look its best on each platform at least.
I’m probably being too harsh here; I’m only looking at Call of Duty: Ghosts on face value. It may very well last the test of time and it may look awesome on the next-gen consoles (and may look awesome five years from now), but there will be better games to come and go over the course of the next-generation, and most likely even more in the generation after. Saying you’re trying to make your game for the gen after next-gen just, to me, just seems really silly.
At the end of the day, however, Infinity Ward are say they’re building a game for the gen after next-gen, but I believe they’re saying they’re building a game simply to stand against the test of time.
Do you think Infinity Ward is doing good by trying to make ‘Call of Duty: Ghosts’ a game for the generation after next-generation? Let us know in the comments!