Activision lawsuit nearly killed Titanfall
Some new insights have emerged into the tumultuous development of Titanfall.
During the early stages of the game's development Respawn came under legal attack from Activision with the studio's founders Jason West and Vince Zampella becoming the targets of the publishing giant's ire after their public and unceremonious sacking from Infinity Ward.
In a new edition of Final Hours, Geoff Keighley's look at the development of high-profile games, Keighley examines the events at Respawn during Titanfall's development including the departure of co-founder Jason West and the legal battle with Activision.
He noted that there were times when half of the workforce would be called into meetings regarding the lawsuit and it damaged the relationship between Jason West and Vince Zampella and the rest of the staff at Respawn.
"Once new employees were immersed in the studio culture, they soon realized that there were really two companies operating beneath the surface: those who were in the lawsuit, and those who were not,” Keighley observed. “On certain days almost half the company would crowd into the conference room for multi-hour meetings with lawyers. Often those discussions would spill over into the afternoon with debates about the latest legal manoeuvre. The rest of the company was supposed to be heads-down working on the game, but one Google Alert about the lawsuit sent development into a tailspin for the rest of the afternoon."
It all came to a head when the lawsuit was settled and West called a meeting to clear the air. "What West hoped would be a constructive dialectic turned into an all-out lynching. Pent-up feelings burst into the open,” Keighley revealed. “Employee after employee complained about the rushed way the lawsuit had been settled. Many attacked West directly and complained that he hadn't properly balanced his time between the lawsuit and the game, which he had largely ignored for the better part of a year."
The result was West's departure from the studio in early 2013. Thankfully the game survived the turmoil although it's clear from Keighley's report that there were points where the turmoil over the legal battle nearly snuffed out Titanfall completely.