Sacked 'Call of Duty' Execs Form New Game Studio, Sign with EA

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Former Call of Duty development studio heads Jason West and Vince Zampella have agreed to develop games for Activision rival Electronic Arts in a surprise announcement issued by EA earlier today. West and Zampella just formed a new game studio called Respawn Entertainment (who knew?) and the deal is technically with Respawn.

The irony in that studio name won't be lost on West and Zampella's former employer. Both men were fired by Activision in early March for undisclosed reasons (the two allegedly breached contract by meeting with an unnamed rival about forming a new game studio). The pair filed suit against Activision days later seeking $36 million in royalties and damages, and were countersued by Activision last Thursday for alleged "breaches of contract and insubordination."

Yep, we'll probably be reading the 'he-said-he-said' on this one for years, pending court rulings, settlements, gossip blog rumormongering, and tell-all postmortems down the line.

In the meantime, what to expect from Respawn? A new military-minded first-person shooter franchise? An EA-funded Call of Duty franchise clone? "Lure of Responsibility"? "Enticement of Obligation"? With Activision's Call of Duty franchise now set to match EA's sports-line perennials in terms of annual installments, do we really need another contender (however gloriously frenetic and graphically gilded) in the crowded "edgy" first-person shooter genre?

Whatever the legal outcomes, fingers crossed West and Zampella and Respawn Entertainment have something fresh up their sleeves, and not just an EA rendition of what Activision subsidiaries Infinity Ward and Treyarch already have down, pretty much pat.

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