April 14, 2010

The Exodus of Infinity Ward

Infinity Ward creates blockbuster game. Activision fires IW executives to avoid paying them. The ex-IW executives formed Respawn Entertainment and then signed with EA. Now, more of IW's staff leaves, likely heading to Respawn. Caught up? Good, because now its time for a history lesson with Uncle Heartless_.

Blizzard North was originally an independent company. It was established in 1993 under the name Condor, founded by Max Schaefer, Erich Schaefer, and David Brevik. The company was purchased and renamed by Blizzard about six months before the release of their hit PC game, Diablo, in 1996. Diablo proved to be incredibly successful, and their 2000 sequel, Diablo II, was even more successful.

On June 30, 2003, several key employees left Blizzard North to form the new companies Flagship Studios (8 moved here) and Castaway Entertainment (9 moved here). The Blizzard North exodus continued on with around 30 employees leaving the company in total.

Flagship Studios was founded by Bill Roper along with Max Schaefer, Erich Schaefer, and David Brevik, the original developers of Diablo and former high level Blizzard North executives.

Castaway Entertainment is based in Redwood City, California. The company signed a publishing agreement with Electronic Arts in March 2004, but has yet to produce any products.

For everyone thinking Infinity Ward is doomed and Respawn Ent. is the next coming of game development Jesus, I ask what company you would put money into today: Blizzard or Flagship Studios or Castaway Entertainment?  It takes more than a few developers to make a game and good corporate culture doesn't disappear over night.  We're not talking about Shigeru Miyamoto or Will Wright here.