In March 2010, news broke that Jason West and Vince Zampella had been fired from Infinity Ward by their publisher Activision. West and Zampella claim they were fired so Activision could avoid paying Modern Warfare 2 royalties, while Activision insists that the two heads were illegally communicating with the publisher Electronic Arts. Whatever the story, West and Zampella formed a different developing company, Respawn Entertainment, with EA and brought 40 Infinity Ward employees with them. Infinity Ward, even with the loss of workers, still had to complete Modern Warfare 3 for a Holiday 2011 release. In order to compensate for their diminished workforce, Sledgehammer Games and Raven Software were brought in to insure the game was released by the Fall 2011 deadline.
Consumer opinion has not been too heavily swayed, even with the problems encountered by Modern Warfare 3 and the company developing it. We polled 150 gamers who currently play Modern Warfare and Modern Warfare 2 and asked them if they were aware of the internal/legal problems regarding Infinity Ward, West and Zampella, and Activision. Out of the 150 gamers polled, only 51 players (34%) had even heard about the recent controversy. Just over 1/3 of consumers who have invested in the Modern Warfare series have even heard about the “Fall of Duty” story, but an even smaller fraction of gamers actually care about the controversy.
Another 150 gamers were surveyed asking if their knowledge of the “Fall of Duty” scandal would influence their purchasing decision of Modern Warfare 3. A majority of gamers, 124 out of 150, said the controversy would not have an effect on their decision to pick up Modern Warfare 3. That means only 16% of gamers aware of the situation, have actually been swayed by it enough for it to compromise their purchase of the game. If we apply this 16% to the 33% of Modern Warfare players who are even aware of the situation, we get a not-exactly-staggering 5.5% of players who will be taking the controversy into account when thinking about purchasing Modern Warfare 3.
On a whole, gamers are either unaware or unconcerned that Infinity Ward has been reduced in size and has had to call in multiple developers to complete the third installment. The 16% of gamers whose purchasing decisions have been swayed by the “Fall of Duty” scandal have expressed concern regarding Infinity Ward’s ability to deliver without West or Zampella’s direction. They also express doubt in Sledgehammer’s expertise when compared to the work Infinity Ward did with the first two Modern Warfare games.
The majority of consumers, however, are not concerned by the current situation. Many gamers believe that Infinity Ward would not release a gaming experience that brought less to the table than the previous titles in the series. Others were convinced by the E3 trailer that MW3 will be maintaining the quality of fun the series is known for. Other gamers aware of the situation but unaffected by it, claiming they were not planning on buying the game anyhow. These are all factors, which could explain the 84% of gamers unaffected by the “Fall of Duty” controversy.
It appears that Infinity Ward, Sledgehammer Games, Raven Software and Activision have nothing to worry about. While the internal and legal problems surrounding the development of MW3 have been widely publicized, few consumers are actually allowing this knowledge to sway their purchasing decisions. With only 1/3 of Modern Warfare players aware of the story, and an even smaller 1/6 that actually care, MW3 sales should be continuing the trend of Call of Duty games topping the charts.