“Putting the Development of Modern Warfare 3 at Risk.”: Activision Almost Blew up the Call of Duty Franchise After a Huge Mistake

Modern Warfare 3 could have been lost to the conflict.

"Putting the Development of Modern Warfare 3 at Risk.": Activision Almost Blew up the Call of Duty Franchise After a Huge Mistake


  • Vince Zampella and Jason West co-founded Respawn Entertainment following their release.
  • Modern Warfare 3 won the award for Best Shooter in 2011.
  • The MW franchise was rebooted in 2019.
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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 perfectly ended the original Modern Warfare trilogy. It was hard for the fans as the storyline developed and Activision kept killing fan-favorite characters in the franchise’s games. First Simon “Ghost” Riley, then John “Soap” MacTavish, and finally Sandman. The tension was real but interesting as the narrative unfolded.


The game sold 6.5 million copies in the United Kingdom and the United States, raking in $400 million, and went on to become the best shooter during the Spike Video Games Award in 2011. In 2019, Activision rebooted the franchise, which received much praise for its campaign, graphics, gameplay, and more. Unfortunately, the third game in the series did not go as well as the original. And Soap’s death in the latest game was deemed unnecessary by many.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Had a Stroke of Luck That It Succeeded

Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 grossed $400 Million in the US and the UK.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 grossed $400 million in the US and the UK.

Your world as you knew it is gone. How far would you go to bring it back?” The opening lines from CoD: MW3 may hit differently when the fans realize it resonates with a real-life situation that developed back in the Infinity Ward building in 2010. This was when Activision sacked Vince Zampella and Jason West, cofounders of Infinity Ward, developers of Call of Duty.


However, it is known that Activision filed a lawsuit against both individuals alongside Electronic Arts, accusing Vince and Jason of getting involved with Battlefield: Bad Company, the biggest rival game for MW2 at the time. The decision was based on the grounds that Zampella and West’s involvement could be detrimental to MW2.

It was uncertain what would happen in Modern Warfare, but it was almost detrimental for the team working at the moment. Little has been known of this story, but an employee working for Infinity Ward as a lead designer, Paul Sandler, shared a glimpse of what followed in the studio after the news broke.

The company was “about to lose nearly half of the entire studio, putting the development of Modern Warfare 3 at risk,” reveals Paul.


“Get Over It”

The game received "generally positive" reviews from critics.
The game received “generally positive” reviews from critics.

As the tension was building on the crumbling foundation, Sandler writes in his article that one of the executives offered them a pay hike and to “get over it.” Following the sack, nearly 40 employees left the company. Its flagship studio was “inadvertently splintered” by Activision, Paul explains.

The post left the readers wanting for more, with one commenting, “I would like some more please (holds out bowl).” Following their release, Vince Zampella and Jason West formed a new studio called Respawn Entertainment, which also won an Academy Award for a documentary dubbed Colette.

As far as the future of CoD is concerned, the company had it planned for until 2027. According to Activision President Rob Kostich,


We’re constantly in our planning phase, our long-term planning phase. Right now, we have games planned out all the way through ’27 for the things that we’re working on.

The next CoD game has not received a release date but will likely be titled Call of Duty: Black Ops: Gulf War.

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Written by Anurag Batham

Articles Published: 250

Anurag Batham is a video games correspondent at FandomWire. With over two years of experience in writing for different industries, his past works show his passion for the metaverse and his awareness of the environment. He's always playing with ideas to turn them into captivating stories.

A gaming enthusiast who can prove it when you have a round of Call of Duty (COD) with him. And it may take more than a coffee with him if you are to talk to him about Marvel. One can find a reader in him who's always keen to perfect what he already knows and to learn everything new.