Speaking to Official PlayStation Magazine, Infinity Ward's boss said that Activision did not believe in Infinity Ward's concept for a modern Call of Duty setting and was actively working to demonstrate the idea wouldn't succeed.
Vince Zampella, IW's chief, said the studio had wanted to do a modern combat shooter for years, and bring their work to consoles, but Activision resisted on both. For its part, Infinity Ward held its nose to do Call of Duty 2 in a World War II setting, but went through with it just to get access to console development.
"We were dead set against it being World War II," Zampella said, "but Activision really wanted it, the compromise sort of being that we'd get some dev kits for consoles in exchange for doing a World War 2 game. ... We always wanted to be on consoles and Activision saw us as more of a PC developer."
When it came time to do Call of Duty 4, "Activision also did not want Modern Warfare. They thought working on a modern game was risky and 'Oh my God you can't do that, it's crazy!' They were doing market research to show us we were wrong the whole time," Zampella said.
"We had to fight for everything," said Jason West, the Call of Duty project lead for Infinity Ward.
We all know the outcome of this unhappy marriage: Modern Warfare sold 14 million copies on rave reviews and has a vociferously loyal player base. Its sequel is one of the most highly anticipated games of the year. And the World War II setting, no matter how well executed, is by perceived by many as derivative and overdone.