A number of Respawn staffers have left to pursue careers at Call of Duty developer Infinity Ward.
The transfer was discovered in this Reddit thread pointing to LinkedIn profiles of former Titanfall team members.
Three of the seven notable defectors include former Infinity Ward staff. Joel Emslie and Geoffrey Smith left their roles as character artist and multiplayer designer at Infinity Ward respectively to help form Respawn.
Most of these departures took place last year, with Emslie leaving in February 2017. The latest grab seems to be senior animator Ranon Sarano, moving to Infinity Ward last month.
Respawn was famously founded after breaches of conduct led Call of Duty co-creators Jason West and Vince Zampella to depart Infinity Ward. The pair formed Respawn and partnered with EA to produce new IP, leading to Titanfall in 2014. The publisher currently has Respawn working on unannounced Star Wars and virtual reality titles. EA purchased Respawn for $450 million in 2017.
While the purchase was announced after several of the departures, it’s possible chatter behind the scenes may have played a part. It's likely that Titanfall 2's commercial performance will have played a part, despite its critical acclaim. EA has confirmed that a new entry in the series is in the works, however.
Poor decision-making saw the sequel release directly between Battlefield 1 and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare.
Call of Duty is back on the rise. Infinity Ward might only be one of three studios working on the IP these days, with Sledgehammer and Treyarch responsible for the 2017 and 2018 entries. But between last year’s WW2 offerings and the experimental multiplayer of Black Ops 4, excitement around the franchise has undoubtedly returned.