Though embroiled in legal rows and staff walkouts, the Californian studio remains provably lucrative

Develop 100: Infinity Ward thunders through

Infinity Ward has today been named as the world’s second most lucrative game studio in this year’s edition of Develop 100.

The pivotal Californian studio – still today less than ten years old – single-handedly made £125.58 million in the UK throughout 2009.

And it was Modern Warfare 2 that carried 90 per cent of that huge cash sum, making £111.79 million in the UK last year alone.

The figures, calculated by Gfk Chart-Track, means that Modern Warfare 2 made more money in Britain than the combined sales of games from Capcom’s Osaka studio, Ubisoft Montreal and Codemasters.

The extraordinary sales data shows that the Infinity Ward shooter took in more UK revenue than the combined sales of Resident Evil 5, Street Fighter IV, Forza 3, Halo ODST, The Sims 3, Batman Arkham Asylum and Uncharted 2.

It was, by a long stretch, the most lucrative game of 2009.

On a studio level, it was only Nintendo, bolstered by its Wii Fit and Wii Sports range, that managed to make more money.

Infinity Ward evidently has become key to the reason why Activision stands as the biggest third-party publisher in the world today.

But such facts and figures would make marvellous news for Activision if it weren’t for one detail; that Infinity Ward is embroiled in legal wars and a mass-exodus of staff, with many claiming the outfit is on the brink of closure.

The news that has dominated 2010 is the high-profile and unrelenting legal row between ex-Infinity Ward staff and the Activision-Blizzard empire, following the extraordinary dismissal of senior studio staff.

Ongoing embarrassment for the lawsuit-riddled Activision continues, as now a total of 35 staff is confirmed to have left Infinity Ward since Jason West and Vince Zampella wee discharged.

Activision sacked the duo for alleged “insubordination”, before the publisher fired legal action and found a countersuit at its own doorstep.
Since then, Infinity Ward has haemorrhaged staff, with new departures routinely announced via social networking sites Twitter and LinkedIn.

West and Zampella have since formed a new indie studio, and freshly-departed Infinity Ward staff are flocking to the studio.

Activsion CEO Bobby Kotick yesterday put a brave face on following the two months of walkouts, dismissals and lawsuits. He said he was "obviously disappointed" by the departures, "and we wish we could have convinced some of these incredibly talented people to stay.”

He added that “it is likely that a few more people will leave as well."

Yet Activision is still backing its bruised and battered studio. Yesterday the publisher’s COO Thomas Tippl gave the troubled studio a huge vote of confidence by stating “Infinity Ward is working on a Call of Duty title and you’ll hear more details as we advance through the year.”

Such a claim could mean that Modern Warfare 3 is still on the cards for Infinity Ward – a situation that, regardless of recent developments, would see the studio return to top positions in future editions of Develop 100.

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