Infinity Ward is the second incarnation of extremely optimistic game studio names. They are best (and only) known for the Call of Duty series.
Before Infinity Ward, there was, 2015, Inc. 2015, Inc. was founded in 1997, and supposedly they hoped to exist until the year 2015, although doubts about how they will stay relevant after that is beyond our comprehension. For the first 4 years of its existence, it did little to anything interesting including this game:
We cannot express how much we DON'T want to play this game, so we won't play it. Some of the more eagle-eyed readers will have noticed the "TrainWreck Studios" label at the bottom right of that cover art. Long story short, somehow 2015, Inc. decided their lack of game production was due to their lack of subsidiaries and thus created one (which ended up making more games than 2015, Inc. itself until 2002).
So far, so boring. 2015, Inc. didn't hit the big time until 2002 where by luck or by god (probably a fucking accident) came out with Medal of Honor: Allied Assault, the first PC Medal of Honor in the series. Only god knows why EA Los Angeles (previously known as Dreamworks Interactive and made famous due to pretty much every single good EA game) the developers of the previous Medal of Honor titles, and subsequently the sequels, weren't given the job. We reckon the mail got switched, or something. Allied Assault wasn't actually that bad, but considering they had Steven Spielberg helping out, it wasn't much of a surprise. It got relative popularity and won a E3 2001 Game Critics Awards: Special Commendation for Sound, which is something I suppose. After this breakthrough into the mainstream, the project leads of Allied Assault and multiple employees of 2015, Inc. decided to do the next logical step after getting into the big time: Leave.
The remains of 2015, Inc. made one last ditch effort to stay relevant by coming out with Men of Valor in 2004, which was less than successful and nearly as good as a game known as "Call of Duty" which came out a year previous, made by some upstarts known as "Infinity Ward".
If you haven't been able to figure out already, those that left 2015, Inc. formed their own studio known as Infinity Ward, which is optimistically named. Either they think their offices will be infinitely large or that their studio will last for an infinite amount of years (which grows increasingly unlikely with every day passing, although we will come to that later). Found in 2002, the founders of Infinity Ward wasted no time in creating a game with their new found knowledge of making EA's Medal of Honor: Allied Assault. We like to believe that before leaving 2015, Inc. they went to the EA headquarters and shouted "Fuck you guys, fuck you guys so hard!" and left the building high-fiving each other to the Activision building.
They were probably not amused.
After only one year of existence, Infinity Ward was able to pump out the critically acclaimed Call of Duty, which has got to be some sort of record or something. Infinity Ward won (and deserved) the Rookie Studio of the Year Award and all seemed well as they sat their asses down and worked on their next installment for Activision: Call of Duty 2.
Infinity Ward was probably a little surprised by the fact that before their proper sequel (Call of Duty 2) came out, two expansion packs for Call of Duty had already came out and a not-for-pc (BLASPHEMY) addition of CoD (CoD2: The Big Red One) was being developed by what would become the Treyarch we know today and Spark Unlimited (who only made one extremely FAIL expansion). Infinity Ward probably shook it off as Activision trying to milk money out of the series and came out with Call of Duty 2 in 2005. Then they sat down and played CoD2: The Big Red One (which came out a few days after) and laughed their asses off at how bad it was. Their place in the CoD series is indisputable, it's their intellectual property, they will do all the developing.
Thus imagine their surprise when their next assignment from Activision told them to make Call of Duty 4.
We can't count for shit!
Later on IW finds out that Treyarch, the makers of the shitty spinoff/expansion CoD2:TBRO was given the job to make CoD3 (also not on PC which made many PC gamers scratch their heads when CoD4 came out). IW therefore decided Treyarch and, on a lesser note, Activision should be shown whose boss by completely ignoring 60 years of history in between WWII and everything that has happened since then to create CoD4: Modern Warfare in 2007. The complete dropping of World War II lost IW the title of "Historically Accurate Shooter Game Maker" to "Holy Shit Money Money Money Money... Money". CoD4 was extremely succesful and won pretty much every single award that it was elligible for. After only 3 games, they have been able to sell more copies of games than there are people in Australia.
By this time, IW is well aware that Activision had split CoD duties between themselves and Treyarch keeping it intermittent. However, someone somewhere in Activision or the studios decided the logical step to keep everyone happy is to stop numbering the titles and give them overly long names such as Call of Duty: World at War, instead of, say, Call of Duty 5 by Treyarch. The 6th title in the series (not including CoD expansions and CoD2:TBRO) was what IW began working on, with the "Call of Duty" name put on for aesthetic purposes and having the not-so-cool name of "Modern Warfare 2" take center stage.
When Modern Warfare 2 came out in 2009, it was met with great fanfare. However, a mere 5 months after the release, Activision officially fires Jason West and Vince Zampella, two senior members (one of whom is a co-founder) of IW for "breaches of contract and insubordination" which is just business lingo for "just because we want to". To further fuck Infinity Ward out of any pride it had left, Activision creates a brand new studio called Sledgehammer Games, along with the ever present Treyarch, to make Call of Duty games as well. Following the sackings of their bosses, half of the employees of Infinity Ward resigned and/or left. They then decided to sue Activision for "unpaid wages and bonuses" for MW2 which weren't paid in order to make sure they would stay to make Modern Warfare 3. Activision then counter sued, and shit hits the fans. Treyarch will be undoubtedly be happy as well as Sledgehammer Games, even if Activision claims (probably out of hindsight that Infinity Ward shouldn't have been messed with) that Infinity Ward would be the main pillar of the Call of Duty series, probably to put out some fires.
Infinity Ward is pretty much done, it would take a gargantuan effort to make it into the behemoth of game design it once was, after the humungous loss of talent. So much for "infinity". We blame this onset of assholeness on Activision being acquired by Vivendi, a French media conglomerate and as we all know, the French are dicks.
To show the amazing creativity for naming things in the former Infinity Ward camp, the majority of the people who had left IW formed Respawn Entertainment. As you can imagine, they have done extremely well for themselves: http://www.respawn.com/
If you are reading this maybe in a few years since this was published, the joke is that this would have been all you saw:
They formed this studio through a generous program set up by, none other than, EA Games. We can only imagine the guys who shouted "Fuck you guys!" during their time at 2015, Inc. with their heads down begging EA for cash.
No hard feelings right?