Infinity Ward studio heads get the axe

When a game studio manages to break the record for the biggest entertainment launch in history, the last thing you'd expect is for its top executives to get the axe barely four months later. According to Shacknews, however, that's exactly what went down at Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 developer Infinity Ward yesterday.

The Shack has pooled reports from several sources, all of which suggest that President Jason West and Chief Creative Officer Vince Zampella were both fired by Activision Blizzard, which owns Infinity Ward and publishes Call of Duty games. Facebook postings and LinkedIn updates appear to confirm the executives' departures.

One account by says the two studio heads left for a meeting with Activision yesterday morning and "have not been seen by Infinity Ward staff members since." Additionally, a "bunch of bouncer-types" reportedly arrived outside the Infinity Ward offices, refusing to explain the reason for their presence to employees.

A Securities and Exchange Commission filing filed by Activision Blizzard this morning provides some background information:

In November 2009, the Company released Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, a game developed by one of the Company's wholly-owned studios, Infinity Ward. As noted above, Modern Warfare 2 was the best selling console title in the U.S. and Europe in 2009. Consistent with past practice, the Company intends to release a Call of Duty game in 2010 developed by another wholly-owned studio. The Company is concluding an internal human resources inquiry into breaches of contract and insubordination by two senior employees at Infinity Ward. This matter is expected to involve the departure of key personnel and litigation. At present, the Company does not expect this matter to have a material impact on the Company.

Activision doesn't appear to have yet talked to the press about the firings, though. We'll bring you more details as this develops.

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