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Modern Warfare

August 29, 2010 | By Ben Fritz, Los Angeles Times
Video-game playing has become a mainstream activity, but gamer culture isn't quite opening up at the same pace. At the center of that culture is machinima, a fast-growing filmmaking method that's more than a decade old but still unknown to most non-gamers. A blend of the words "machine" and "animation," it describes animated work done by recording movements within a video game such as Halo, Grand Theft Auto IV or Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. The vast majority of machinima is by and for hard-core gamers, with stories that fit into existing game narratives or inside jokes for experienced players.
June 12, 2010 | By Ben Fritz and Alex Pham, Los Angeles Times
On a warm Monday afternoon three months ago, the producers of the hit video game Call of Duty found their offices under invasion. Security guards with Secret Service-style radio earpieces showed up on the second floor of Infinity Ward headquarters in Encino on March 1 and refused to tell employees why they were monitoring the entrances. Staffers congregating in the hallways suspected it had to do with the mysterious absence that day of their longtime bosses Jason West and Vincent Zampella.
May 6, 2010 | By Alex Pham, Los Angeles Times
Activision Blizzard Inc., still cruising on momentum of the red-hot launch last year of its Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 game, on Thursday reported that profit doubled and revenue shot up 33% in the first quarter. The Santa Monica game publisher posted a profit of $381 million, or 30 cents a share, on sales of $1.3 billion in the quarter ended March 31. That compares with $189 million in net income, or 14 cents a share, on $981 million in revenue a year earlier. "The results definitely speak for themselves," Activision Chief Executive Robert Kotick said in an interview.
April 28, 2010 | Ben Fritz
The legal battle over one of the biggest brands in the video game industry has leveled up. Thirty-eight former and current employees of Infinity Ward — the Encino-based development studio that makes the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare video games for Activision Blizzard Inc. — have sued Activision, claiming they are owed between $75 million and $125 million in unpaid royalties. Last month former Infinity Ward heads Jason West and Vince Zampella were fired by Activision and filed a $36-million suit against the Santa Monica publisher.
April 22, 2010 | By Alex Pham, Los Angeles Times
Ever since Activision Blizzard Inc. fired two top developers of its blockbuster Call of Duty game franchise in March for alleged "insubordination," the word on the Web is one of sympathy — for the developers. The former employees, Jason West and Vince Zampella, were heralded as heroes for suing Activision, while the company's executives were branded "dimwitted morons" for dismissing the two from their jobs at Infinity Ward, the studio that makes Call of Duty games. Activision struck back with a countersuit that tried to reverse the popularity tide, accusing West and Zampella of being "self-serving schemers" by trying to start their own independent studio while still working at Activision.
March 5, 2010 | By Ben Fritz
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare has led to legal warfare at Activision. Jason West and Vince Zampella, the former heads of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare development studio Infinity Ward Inc. who were fired Monday, have filed a $36-million lawsuit against publisher Activision Blizzard Inc. alleging wrongful termination and breach of contract. The complaint, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Wednesday, alleges that Santa Monica-based Activision fired the executives to avoid paying them royalties on the military shooter game Modern Warfare 2, which was released in November and has generated more than $1 billion in retail sales.
March 3, 2010 | By Ben Fritz
The two top executives of the studio behind Call of Duty: Modern Warfare have unexpectedly left the company amid a conflict with publisher Activision Blizzard Inc., clouding the future of one of the world's most popular and profitable video game series. Vince Zampella and Jason West, chief executive and president, respectively, of Encino game development studio Infinity Ward, both exited, corporate parent Activision confirmed Tuesday. Their departure puts in question the fate of Infinity Ward, creator of the Call of Duty military shooter series and the producer of its recent blockbuster Modern Warfare installments.
February 11, 2010 | By Alex Pham
Activision Blizzard Inc. said Wednesday that its fourth-quarter loss widened to $286 million, despite strong revenue from its blockbuster Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 title along with sales of games that also have an online presence. The Santa Monica video game publisher lost 23 cents a share for the quarter, compared with a loss of $72 million, or 5 cents a share, for the previous year's final three months. Revenue fell slightly to $1.56 billion from $1.64 billion, even though sales of its Guitar Hero titles fell 35%. The results included deferred revenue of $938 million from the sale of games that included an online component.
January 15, 2010 | By Alex Pham and Ben Fritz
The video game industry eked out a 4% sales gain in the U.S. last month, rising to $5.32 billion as shoppers snapped up nearly 2.8 million copies each of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and New Super Mario Bros. Wii. But the uptick in the crucial holiday shopping month couldn't counter an otherwise bleak 2009, which saw sales of video games, consoles and accessories total $19.66 billion, down 8% from 2008, market research firm NPD Group said. December capped a stomach-churning year for the game industry, during which retail sales fell in eight of the 12 months, leading several major publishers to cut costs and workers.
January 14, 2010 | By Ben Fritz
The video game industry got a shot of good news Wednesday before what's expected to be a final dose of bad news on 2009 today. Activision Blizzard Inc. said sales of its blockbuster Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 have exceeded $1 billion worldwide since it launched Nov. 10. Though the Santa Monica publisher didn't specify how many units it had sold, that's probably close to 15 million based on the 8 million units the game sold in its first...
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