Activision Sues Fired Infinity Ward Founders

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Activision Sues Fired Infinity Ward Founders

Post by Administrator on Mon 12 Apr - 12:08

In a newly filed lawsuit, Activision Blizzard claims that Infinity Ward's fired founders are "self-serving schemers who attempted to hijack Activision's assets for their own personal gain."

According to the LA Times , Activision Blizzard has counter-sued the pair, alleging that they were conspiring with competitors, hamstringing their own employees, and attempting to steal Infinity Ward. Or as the lawsuit puts it:

"West and Zampella's misdeeds formed an unlawful pattern and practice of conduct that was designed to steal the studio, which is one of Activision's most valuable assets -- at the expense of Activision and its shareholders and for their own personal financial gain."

In case you haven't been following along at home, Infinity Ward is the studio that makes the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare games. After Modern Warfare 2 quickly became a billion dollar property, Infinity Ward's two founders, West and Zampella, were dismissed for "insubordination." It comes out in Activision Blizzard's suit that this insubordination mostly consisted of hiring a Hollywood talent agency, and secretly meeting with the executives of another major competitor.

When the LA Times asked EA if they had had contact with West and Zampella, EA Spokesman Jeff Brown said "We don't have the time to comment on the many lawsuits Activision files against its employees and creative partners." Zing!

Anyway, Activision Blizzard's lawsuit is built around the notion that West and Zampella were somehow conspiring against their parent publisher. This, in turn, is built on the fact that the two signed with a Hollywood talent agency, and allegedly conspired with a competitor. In a written response, the pair's lawyer said that the Hollywood agency was only hired in order for the pair to get good legal council when dealing with Activision. The response doesn't directly address the "secret meeting," though it does imply that if West and Zampella spoke with executives at rival publishers, it only would have been done "…to see if Activision's proposal could work."

It's when you see what Activision's "proposal" was that you begin to see where things really started falling apart. According to the duo's lawyer, Activision "sought to renegotiate Jason and Vince's contract and induce them to forego developing a new game in favor of doing another Modern Warfare sequel." So it's starting to look like West and Zampella felt pressured to make Modern Warfare 3, but wanted to work on something new, and they hired Hollywood lawyers, and Activision Blizzard may have heard that the two met with Take Two or Ubisoft or Sega or EA - and fired them.

It's also mentioned in the suit that Activision Blizzard plans to release Modern Warfare 3 in late 2011. We have no idea if it will be delayed, though we're pretty certain Activision Blizzard will do everything they can to get it out on time.

Finally, Activision Blizzard's suit seeks compensation for wages paid to the duo during their "period of disloyalty," plus damages, and the option to withhold all royalties from the Modern Warfare games.

This clearly comes down to a power struggle for control over Infinity Ward, and the Modern Warfare 3 brand. We don't know what math told Activision Blizzard's executives that they'd be better of firing the founders of Infinity Ward, but we suspect that they put a decimal in the wrong place. And what must Blizzard be thinking, as they watch their parent go crazy and decapitate their sister company due to a "Creative control" argument? They probably have 300 million reasons a year not to be very worried. Or is that 300 million reasons a year that they should be worried?


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