Activision Responds to Infinity Ward Lawsuit, Is "Disappointed"

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Activision Responds to Infinity Ward Lawsuit, Is "Disappointed"

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Activision has issued a public response to the lawsuit filed by co-Infinity Ward founders Jason West and Vince Zampella, calling it "meritless" - and meanwhile seems to be trying to link the duo to rival publishers like EA.

When we first learned that former Infinity Ward heads Jason West and Vince Zampella were suing their former bosses over the Infinittwardämmerung from earlier this week, it was inevitable that the industry giant wouldn't take these claims lying down.

In a public response, Activision has called the claims in the suit "meritless," and expresses that it is "disappointed" in the actions taken by the two men. The Activision statement notes that the publisher provided the financial capital and independence needed to start Infinity Ward in the first place, and says that the two ex-executives failed to "honor their obligations" under contract, justifying their termination.

Activision would also like to remind everyone (as per this statement) that it owns the Call of Duty franchise, though the statement curiously does not mention Modern Warfare in particular.

Activision is disappointed that Mr. Zampella and Mr. West have chosen to file a lawsuit, and believes their claims are meritless. Over eight years, Activision shareholders provided these executives with the capital they needed to start Infinity Ward, as well as the financial support, resources and creative independence that helped them flourish and achieve enormous professional success and personal wealth.

In return, Activision legitimately expected them to honor their obligations to Activision, just like any other executives who hold positions of trust in the company. While the company showed enormous patience, it firmly believes that its decision was justified based on their course of conduct and actions. Activision remains committed to the Call of Duty franchise, which it owns, and will continue to produce exciting and innovative games for its millions of fans.

It sounds reasonable, but then again these arguments always sound reasonable beforehand - West and Zampella's did, too. That's what the court is for, of course.

Intriguingly enough, G4's Patrick Klepek managed to get his hands on what he calls "Activision internal legal memo from a source close to the company" that, if genuine may well clarify exactly what angles Activision is pushing.

"The Dispute involves West and Zampella's management of IW, as well as the development and marketing of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 ("MW2"), and potential subsequent games developed by IW," says the memo - reportedly sent internally before any lawsuit was filed or publicly announced, "Activision believes that it has done nothing wrong and intends to vigorously defend any claims asserted by West and Zampella."

Activision seems to believe - even within the company - that it is legally in the right, and that the courts will uphold this. To bolster its case, however, it seems that the lawyers will be looking for documents proving a number of things including (but not limited to):

* "Documents regarding past, current or future IW projects, including but not limited to any and all businesses analyses of future projects (e.g. Modern Warfare 3)"

* "Documents regarding any potential 'spin out' of IW, including but not limited to any communications with IW employees, West or Zampella regarding forming a new studio independent of Activision"

* "Documents regarding West and Zampella's communications with Activision's competitors, including but not limited to Electronic Arts"

The first and second aren't very surprising. Anyone who didn't expect a hypothetical Modern Warfare 3 to enter the picture at some point, raise your hand and slap yourself with it, and West and Zampella seeking to perhaps leave IW and start a new company isn't coming out of left field, either. It's the third that's the interesting one, though.

Apparently, Activision thinks that West and Zampella were talking to its competitors, naming Electronic Arts by name. That seems to be the big one, and if Activision can find any evidence of that, it may well have a case on its hands.

West and Zampella are reportedly seeking "at least $36 million" in damages, plus control over the Modern Warfare brand.

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I hate the American legal system...It's ruining our country.

But I think Activision is right here.

I'm curious why do some people still think this is some sort of elaborate publicity stunt to distract from the release of Bad Company 2?

Edit: Also why can't I type.

CD-R:
I'm curios why do people some people still think this is some sort of elaborate publicity stunt to distract from the release of Bad Company 2?

I don't think it was something that Activision cooked up suddenly with the specific purpose of distracting from Bad Company 2, of course.

But, I also admit that the timing was pretty beneficial to them. So at my absolute most, tinfoil-hat, checking-my-car-chassis-for-bombs conspiracy-minded, I might call it a "two birds, one stone" scenario.

and the craziness continues.... >_>

Onyx Oblivion:
I hate the American legal system...It's ruining our country.

But I think Activision is right here.

O_o

This is what you just said:

"I don't like the things that allow people to have intellectual property and I think that those who want to remove intellectual property rights from some and give them to others are cool dudes."

I just want to make sure we're on the same page here. I'm sure something about capitalism will come up in this thread at some point as well so I'll just go ahead and put this out there.

Oligarchies/=/Capitalism.

If Infinity Ward had plans to go with EA, or start their own company, Activision has the right to fire them, as hard as it is to admit. I still don't approve of their treatment of the series as a whole though. The possibility of the Call of Duty series continuing without Infinity Ward is a bit troublesome.

Credge:

Onyx Oblivion:
I hate the American legal system...It's ruining our country.

But I think Activision is right here.

O_o

This is what you just said:

"I don't like the things that allow people to have intellectual property and I think that those who want to remove intellectual property rights from some and give them to others are cool dudes."

I just want to make sure we're on the same page here. I'm sure something about capitalism will come up in this thread at some point as well so I'll just go ahead and put this out there.

Oligarchies/=/Capitalism.

Activision owns the rights. They can do what they want. Besides, I always did like Treyarch more than IW.

from these legal memos, if it does come out they were trying to jump ship with alot of tallen to go work for EA, they may have alot of financial pain coming. The two founders may be liable for alot of damadged. IF Activision cant prove it, and they did breach a contract of employment they will be in trouble. If the contract of employment didnt have a time line or a good cuase clause, the two former executives got no legal legs

Whilst I do think that both sides have done things wrong here, I still have to say that I wish for those two guys to get what they want. That is, if they indeed never received their bonusses for Modern Warfare 2, which seems to be the catalyst to their actions.

Activision: "Infinity Ward, I am dissapoint."

Kinda feel sorry for the guys who were kicked out of their own company.

I really hope Activision loses this case. They need to be taken down a peg or two.

Not even EA pulled this shit and expected to take the moral high ground when they were gamings baddies.

And just as they were about to paid royalties they get the sack thats just wrong.

If they're 'ex-executives', doesn't that just make them 'ecutives'?

Thank you, I'll be here all week; try the shrimp cocktail.

I would love to see these guys found their own company with the Modern Warfare name and absolutely crush it with MW3. I don't care if they are independent, or get published by EA or Take Two. Anything that puts less money into Activision's coffers is just fine by me.

This will be an intresting court case.

CD-R:
I'm curious why do some people still think this is some sort of elaborate publicity stunt to distract from the release of Bad Company 2?

Edit: Also why can't I type.

lol i never ever thougt of that. its like a drama queen ex gf who once you get together with a new gf announces shes pregnant or some shit.

They can't make another Call of Duty game. I'm pretty sure Activision owns the rights. I could be wrong but eh.

I'd say EA is the lesser of two evils right now.

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John Funk:

CD-R:
I'm curios why do people some people still think this is some sort of elaborate publicity stunt to distract from the release of Bad Company 2?

I don't think it was something that Activision cooked up suddenly with the specific purpose of distracting from Bad Company 2, of course.

But, I also admit that the timing was pretty beneficial to them. So at my absolute most, tinfoil-hat, checking-my-car-chassis-for-bombs conspiracy-minded, I might call it a "two birds, one stone" scenario.

How is looking like greedy douches who screw thier devlopers out of money beneficial to them exactly? If anything it will make people want to trade thier copies of Modern in for Bad Company 2.

Well this is all just accusations and finger-pointing until there is substantial evidence. If these guys did indeed go under the table and make deals with EA and other competitors then they're fucked for a long time. Should it be found Activision purposely fired them for BS reasons just because these guys felt they should be paid for their work, then there's even more fuel to fire the activision hate machine

My money is on some hollywood accounting of the royalties

I bet the conversation went something like this....

Soulless Activision Accounting Bot: According to our records Modern Warfare 2 actually lost 400billion so you get no royalties.
IW Execs: WTF?
Bobby (as played by Satan):Also clause 2345 subparagraph MXCXXVCLMCV of your contract requires that you light yourself on fire! Muhahahahah! (twirls mustache, steeples hands, strangles orphan)
IW Execs: Uh, no!
Bobby: (bites head off kitten) Insubordination! Security(pit fiends), escort these gentlemen out of my sight! I have their souls and they get NOTHING! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Somehow i'm more inclined to believe the executives then Activision.

I think either way, Activision may have just unleashed hell.

Several things are going to result from all of this.

1.) Their image as a whole manages to (against all odds) actually sink DEEPER into the toilet than it already is.

2.) May have just crippled the Modern Warfare brand name JUST ENOUGH that if EA or another company can get to these two guys, start a new development studio, and produce a game called "Contemporary Strife" or something like that, they might be able to bury any future MW games as pale imitations or as having less fun "quality" (see: Call of Duty World at War)

3.) EA is probably already blowing up their phones... after all, if Activision FIRED these guys, then there is NOTHING at ALL now to keep them from welcoming them with open arms into the EA flock to make a potentially record-breaking game IP for THEM.

4.) I can easily see many IW employees tendering their resumes in order to get join whatever new "studio" these two executives put together independently.

5.) Games come and go, but studio loyalty can be worth it's weight in Gold. There are people who will buy ANY bioware game, because Bioware has had such a decent track record with those people. The next MW game might sport "Infinity Ward" somewhere on the BOX, but it everyone will know it's not the "same". Personally, I wouldn't play a Treyarch "modern warfare" game or a Call of Duty game ever again unless IW was the creator/developer/ and tester.

Why would EA even communicate with them on this as it has it's own brands that could/would/do completely compete with Call of Duty. Lets see, they have Battlefield (all of the Battlefields), Crysis 2 coming soon, and for the similar to CoD they have Medal of Honor.

It all seems like Activision is just trying to find excuses to fire employees so they could claim ownership to the Intellectual Property that those employees created, founded, and made into a multi-million (possibly billion) dollar success. (Sort of how Walmart fires any employee that even mentions the word "union" with some random excuse just so that they won't unionize.)

HyenaThePirate:
I think either way, Activision may have just unleashed hell.

Several things are going to result from all of this.

1.) Their image as a whole manages to (against all odds) actually sink DEEPER into the toilet than it already is.

2.) May have just crippled the Modern Warfare brand name JUST ENOUGH that if EA or another company can get to these two guys, start a new development studio, and produce a game called "Contemporary Strife" or something like that, they might be able to bury any future MW games as pale imitations or as having less fun "quality" (see: Call of Duty World at War)

3.) EA is probably already blowing up their phones... after all, if Activision FIRED these guys, then there is NOTHING at ALL now to keep them from welcoming them with open arms into the EA flock to make a potentially record-breaking game IP for THEM.

4.) I can easily see many IW employees tendering their resumes in order to get join whatever new "studio" these two executives put together independently.

5.) Games come and go, but studio loyalty can be worth it's weight in Gold. There are people who will buy ANY bioware game, because Bioware has had such a decent track record with those people. The next MW game might sport "Infinity Ward" somewhere on the BOX, but it everyone will know it's not the "same". Personally, I wouldn't play a Treyarch "modern warfare" game or a Call of Duty game ever again unless IW was the creator/developer/ and tester.

To comment on part #3, they might have a part in their contracts that prevents them from working with a competing company even after separation with their original company (Acitivision) without facing sever legal action to prevent company secretes and information from getting to a competitor (many companies obsessed with Corporate Espionage do have these types of contracts).

As for #4, I do agree with you on this, but also the IW employees must see it in a bigger way "if they can fire the head honchos, what's to say they're not just going to fire all the IW employees and just keep the CoD/IW name in-house with another development team"?

They did the same thing to Red Octane for Guitar Hero, more or less. Kicked out the original developers, and found someone else to do it.

Personally since I don't know the details of their contracts, they could have breached them for all we know and thus Activision would be completely right in what they did in firing them.

Or we could all just knee-jerk react that Activision is the Devil and they never do anything correctly.

I really hope Activision loses this. Partly because they're a bunch of assholse and partly because of the whole The Silver Lining Business.

Deathfish15:

To comment on part #3, they might have a part in their contracts that prevents them from working with a competing company even after separation with their original company (Acitivision) without facing sever legal action to prevent company secretes and information from getting to a competitor (many companies obsessed with Corporate Espionage do have these types of contracts).

As for #4, I do agree with you on this, but also the IW employees must see it in a bigger way "if they can fire the head honchos, what's to say they're not just going to fire all the IW employees and just keep the CoD/IW name in-house with another development team"?

You have a good point there and I'd be very interested if someone within the industry could shed a bit of light on this..

If you are a developer working for a big corporate entity like Activision, CAN you be prevented from working for a competitor after leaving/fired? I hardly think that being FIRED by some gaming company would instantly negate YEARS of gaming/development expertise. Thats like being a writer for a tv show, getting fired, and suddenly being prohibited by contract from writing tv shows for any other network. It would mean that a termination or resignation for ANY reason would be an instant and complete end to your career.

I don't think thats quite possible personally. I don't see how I can contracturally be obligated to NOT go off and make some OTHER "war based shooter" for some other gaming company, especially if I have the credentials to earn a bidding war between companies for me to work for them. Even IF there is some contractural obligation, I would imagine that there would be some way to negate it or even simply pay it off through the new company. I'm sure EA would gladly pay whatever amount it was in order to have these guys turn the Medal of Honor series back into a title that earns as much accolade and die-hard fan-base as MW, which has surpassed even the CALL of DUTY titles in popularity and respect.

Either way, I think I'll be putting aside MW2 for Battlefield BC2 now. I have no respect for Activision and even less now even IF they are technically in the right... not because I don't think that these two guys didnt deserve termination if they violated some sort of policy or contractural agreement.. but because Activision handled this entire situation once again with all the finesse and subtlety of a prison gang rape.

CD-R:

John Funk:

CD-R:
I'm curios why do people some people still think this is some sort of elaborate publicity stunt to distract from the release of Bad Company 2?

I don't think it was something that Activision cooked up suddenly with the specific purpose of distracting from Bad Company 2, of course.

But, I also admit that the timing was pretty beneficial to them. So at my absolute most, tinfoil-hat, checking-my-car-chassis-for-bombs conspiracy-minded, I might call it a "two birds, one stone" scenario.

How is looking like greedy douches who screw thier devlopers out of money beneficial to them exactly? If anything it will make people want to trade thier copies of Modern in for Bad Company 2.

only sheck the chassis for bombs?
ever hear of liquid mixture in the tyres?
60mph, and BOOM!
sooner if you like burnouts
'any publicity is good publicity'
re: 'no rushin'
'FAGS'
how did those hurt sales?
they didn't
if g4 is busy 'reporting' ZOMG! bouncerz at IW on BC2's release day.
"what's going on?
OMG
LOL"
then that's less time saying: BC2 is pretty good. it takes jabs at MW2 and is much better online.
plus it could generate sympathy for IW among HC gamers, including ones 'annoyed' by things like IWnet.

Didn't Activision buy IW after it was formed, not help create it?

Even if Activision is in the right, I hope that the courts favor Zampella and West because corporations, non entities, have to much power as it is and they need to lose it.

Commander Breetai:
If they're 'ex-executives', doesn't that just make them 'ecutives'?

Thank you, I'll be here all week; try the shrimp cocktail.

hahahaha that was funny !

SuperMse:
Didn't Activision buy IW after it was formed, not help create it?

Yup, IW came from some of the devs of the Medal of Honor games. Activision bought them further down the line.

0p3rati0n:
and the craziness continues.... >_>

Well, the ball is back in there court...the question is how will they play the cards they have...

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