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Three Reasons Activision Won't Even Have to Pause


A shakeup at the Infinity Ward won't hinder success of the Call of Duty franchise.

Activision (ATVI) has problems in its HR department -- yesterday, the world's largest third-party publisher of video-game software announced a shakeup in the company's key Infinity Ward studio.

In its 10/K filing with the SEC, Activision said:

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.

A subsequent press release identified those two senior employees as Jason West and Vince Zampella, and the company is clearly implying that more heads will roll.

Activision's Infinity Ward studio is best known for its work on the Call of Duty franchise, which is among the most successful and valuable brands in the video-game industry. The most recent entry in the series, 2009's Modern Warfare 2, powered the company through an awful industry downturn with a combination of brilliant marketing and good, old-fashioned quality gameplay

However, will this management shuffle damage Activision's blockbuster Call of Duty franchise?

Messrs. West and Zampella's departure can't be considered a good thing, but there are three key reasons the Call of Duty franchise will succeed for years, if not decades, to come.

Let's kick the DeLorean up to 88 mph and look at Activision's historical strategy with Call of Duty. The company releases a new Call of Duty game each year, with Infinity Ward serving as producer every two years, alternating with Activision's Treyarch studio. The Infinity Ward editions are considered to be superior by both gamers and critics, and thus receive the lion's share of praise. That pattern will continue in 2010.
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