Titanfall studio Respawn Entertainment is now officially an EA studio. Per an EA press release, EA purchased the previously independent studio for around $455 million, a figure that includes cash, equity and performance milestone payments. Respawn is currently developing a VR title for Oculus Rift and a Star Wars game with God of War III director Stig Asmussen.
The news may alarm some fans of Titanfall, seeing as how EA studio Visceral Games was recently shut down after a tumultuous production period of their own Star Wars game. Still, Respawn CEO Vince Zampella attempted to assuage those worries in an open letter to fans.
While it wasn’t necessary, going with EA made a lot of sense. With Titanfall and Star Wars, EA has been a great development partner that supports us and doesn’t interfere with our process for making games or studio culture. EA will provide us with more resources, access to new technologies, and expertise that we can tap into to that will help us make better games, and Respawn will retain the same creative freedom and culture we’ve always had. We’ve been talking closely with the leadership at EA and we share their values and vision for the future of being a developer-focused company that puts the players first.
The same letter was followed by an FAQ, which assured readers that Respawn was not acquired “because the company was in trouble.” “Not at all,” is the short answer.
Worries also stem from the history of Respawn—the studio was created by Zampella and Jason West, formerly known as co-founders of Call of Duty studio Infinity Ward. After the development of Modern Warfare 2, Zampella and West were terminated by owner Activision for “breaches of contract and insubordination.” Over half of Infinity Ward’s employees resigned in protest, and joined Zampella and West at their newly formed Respawn studio.
The irony is that Infinity Ward itself was formed by Zampella, West and other developers from studio 2015 Inc., the studio behind Medal of Honor: Allied Assault, published by EA. The formation of Infinity Ward stemmed from former 2015 Inc. team members unsatisfied with their experience with their previous employer. With this purchase, Zampella has essentially gone full circle.
No information regarding Respawn’s Star Wars game has yet been revealed, other than a brief look during an E3 2016 video (below, timestamp 1:03) featuring some motion capture work and a word from Asmussen. EA’s press release also mentions “a new title in the Titanfall franchise,” presumably a third installment. Our review of Titanfall 2 can be found here.