Call of Duty is one of the most successful video game franchises of all-time, and it has made billions of dollars for its publisher Activision. But it’s another publisher, Electronic Arts, that unknowingly helped bring it to life.
In an interview with IGN, Call of Duty co-founder Vince Zampella explained how EA overplayed its hand and pushed his team to create a new military shooter. In 2002, Zampella was at developer 2015 Inc., the studio that made Medal of Honor: Allied Assault. It performed well enough that EA took an interest in buying 2015 Inc.
Zampella said “EA wanted to pull it in-house so they forced us to try to come be part of EA. We didn’t want to do that. They tried to strong-arm us a little bit. Once they tried to strong-arm us, we decided we don’t want to be part of EA — as a team, we decided that wasn’t what we set out to do.”
In addition to declining EA’s offer, Zampella tried to one-up the publisher. He admitted that when he co-founded Infinity Ward, Call of Duty was an attempt to best Medal of Honor. It was “a little bit [of a ‘fuck you’ to EA]” Zampella relented.
That “little bit of a fuck you” obviously turned into a giant “fuck you.” Call of Duty essentially killed Medal of Honor; even though there were several installments after Allied Assault, they were overshadowed by Infinity Ward’s work and mostly second-rate by comparison. It did, however, open the door for Battlefield to become EA’s signature shooter, a series that is still going strong today. But, if EA hadn’t gotten pushy back in the early 2000s, there’s a fair chance Call of Duty wouldn’t exist.