Activision Shoots Back at Ex-Infinity Ward Leads *UPDATE*

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Activision Shoots Back at Ex-Infinity Ward Leads *UPDATE*

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Activision has filed a lawsuit against former Infinity Ward studio heads Jason West and Vince Zampella, accusing the duo of being "self-serving schemers."

You didn't really think we'd heard the last of the Infinittwardämmerung from early March, did you? Well, now it's Activision's turn to file its own over-dramatically worded lawsuit, and the publisher is marching out with dual shotguns blazing.

According to the LA Times Blog, the lawsuit - filed this morning with the Los Angeles County Superior Court - counters the complaint filed by West and Zampella after being fired from their positions as the co-heads of Call of Duty developer Infinity Ward.

Whereas Ward and Zampella alleged that Activision terminated their employment to avoid paying royalties on the roughly hozillion dollars garnered by the massive Modern Warfare 2, Activision (of course) disagrees. In the 23-page claim, Activision complains that "West and Zampella's misdeeds formed an unlawful pattern and practice of conduct that was designed to steal the [Infinity Ward] 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."

The lawsuit also claims that Activision fired West and Zampella because the duo had "morphed from valued, responsible executives into insubordinate and self-serving schemers who attempted to hijack Activision's assets for their own personal gain."

Furthermore, it alleges that West and Zampella took a "secret trip by private jet to Northern California, arranged by their Hollywood agent, to meet with the most senior executives of Activision's closest competitor." While the suit does not mention any companies by name, it doesn't take a genius to realize that Electronic Arts' main headquarter is in Redwood - that is, in northern California.

What is perhaps the most interesting charge in the Activision lawsuit, however, its the publisher's response to the claim that it has intentionally been withholding royalties from the Infinity Ward crew. Activision claims that West and Zampella attempted to "prevent Activision from awarding additional compensation to [Infinity Ward] team members as a reward for the success of [Infinity Ward-developed games, in order to make these employees easier to poach when West and Zampella executed their plans to leave the company and set up their own company."

Curiouser and curiouser indeed.

While I've been a proponent of "let's wait and see" thus far - don't go automatically siding with either party in a knee-jerk reaction; let's let it play out in courts and then see who's in the right - I do have to say that I found this comment from EA totally hilarious. When approached by the LA Times for comment on the allegation that West and Zampella had flown up to Redwood to meet with EA, EA spokesman Jeff Brown responded:

"We don't have the time to comment on the many lawsuits Activision files against its employees and creative partners."

Oh, snap. I felt the heat from that burn all the way over here!

Update: IGN has the full text of the cross-complaint, and even if it is out of order it makes for a very interesting read.

Activision is alleging that West and Zampella became increasingly subordinate over the past few years, making up false incidents of "incompetence" among Activision employees and speaking openly about leaving Infinity Ward to start a spin-off - and trying to bring other IW employees with them.

The suit also claims that West and Zampella tried to make their employees increasingly unhappy at IW so that they would be easier to poach after leaving and setting up said spinoff. One way they did this, alleges Activision, was to claim an "inordinately large share of the bonus pools" for the Modern Warfare games themselves. The duo took a full third of the CoD4 bonus pool, and were demanding an even bigger cut for MW2, it says. Furthermore, that is something that Activision says it intends to rectify if it wins the lawsuit:

"When Activision prevails in this matter, it intends to reallocate any share of the Modern Warfare 2 bonus pool that might otherwise have been payable to West and Zampella to those employees responsible for the success of the game who remain employees of the company subsequent to the resolution of the matter."

Beyond that, the lawsuit also includes at least a sample email (allegedly between West/Zampella and EA) that Activision managed to get a hold of despite the pair's supposed attempts to keep their correspondence secret:

"West and Zampella sent and received the following messages in an apparent effort to covertly copy certain materials, reading in part: 'Dunno how to scan secretely [sic] ... [IW Employee's] computer down ... [IW Employee] did it for me last time. ... Really. No paranoia about it being in [IW employee] user folder? Her comp down anyway now ... She had a secret area it scanned into ... Probably better to just photocopy and fedex ... Can scan or photo - your call ... Boom boom pow. Away.'"

Some serious allegations here. I'm very interested to see how this will all play out.

(Via G4TV)

Permalink

its a slap fight

The only guy that's going to come up smelling of roses out of this one is Jeff Brown. Give that man a coconut for the Quote of the Day.

Wow,

I love how this saga continues.

And now EA is involved!!!!!! THIS CANNOT GET ANY BETTER!!!!!!

Ok I lie, throw in some fighting Bikini Models and we will be there!

I'm loving this. I can't even begin to imagine who has the high ground here. They both have compelling arguments that I'd be willing to believe.

EA rocks.

They are now my favorite publisher.

Activision is...Activision.

Unisoft did that DRM crap.

EA...releases a few yearly sports games for money. AND GIVES FREE DLC!

OH SNAP

Nice job EA.

Why can't everyone just get along?

Onyx Oblivion:
EA rocks.

They are now my favorite publisher.

Activision is...Activision.

Unisoft did that DRM crap.

EA...releases a few yearly sports games for money. AND GIVES FREE DLC!

EA stomped all over that guy from that Edge fiasco. Do they get points for that?

Jeff Brown, you get of cookie.

John Funk:
When approached by the LA Times for comment on the allegation that West and Zampella had flown up to Redwood to meet with EA, EA spokesman Jeff Brown responded:

"We don't have the time to comment on the many lawsuits Activision files against its employees and creative partners."

Oh, snap. I felt the heat from that burn all the way over here!

That is THE best thing I've heard from EA in AGES!

Calumon: *sings*Money flying here, Money flying there.
All thats left is the money bear!

Xombee:

Onyx Oblivion:
EA rocks.

They are now my favorite publisher.

Activision is...Activision.

Unisoft did that DRM crap.

EA...releases a few yearly sports games for money. AND GIVES FREE DLC!

EA stomped all over that guy from that Edge fiasco. Do they get points for that?

I thought he popped up recently and claimed that he's going to be the "obv winnar of lawsuit" (paraphrasing), so no points awarded until they get the job done.

Nice EA games. Nice.

Looks luke not pullng any punches here.

This is going to get intresting and more dramatic until we hear the end of it

Oh shoot I forgot about this

Bad pun aside, how is going these days? Has anyone got an up-to-date link?

"Oh, snap. I felt the heat from that burn all the way over here!"

lol. Good article, can't wait to see how this drama continues to unfold. :)

Onyx Oblivion:
EA rocks.

They are now my favorite publisher.

EA...releases a few yearly sports games for money. AND GIVES FREE DLC!

Ahem! *points to Pandemic's grave*

Other than that they're cool in my book.

John Funk:
...EA spokesman Jeff Brown responded:

"We don't have the time to comment on the many lawsuits Activision files against its employees and creative partners."

This is the single most epic quote I've ever seen.

Seriously though, who in their right mind would believe Activision after they've been withholding royalties, facts, breaking into Infinity Ward HQ or whatever, interrogating 2 people without the interference of police (honestly, I'd have sued them just for that) and now, apparently spreading lies (although this could really be just EA wanting to slap Activision in the face. They're competitors, after all.).

I remember the days when EA was looked down upon, but now they're probably the most popular publisher on the market. Good to see that.

Ahahaha. I just might be willing to forgive EA for their shitty customer service for that comment right there.

Jonny49:

Onyx Oblivion:
EA rocks.

They are now my favorite publisher.

EA...releases a few yearly sports games for money. AND GIVES FREE DLC!

Ahem! *points to Pandemic's grave*

Other than that they're cool in my book.

They went out on a high note...imo.

I loved The Saboteur. And at least it got published. Besides, developers rarely truly "die". They just reform under a new name.

ciortas1:

John Funk:
...EA spokesman Jeff Brown responded:

"We don't have the time to comment on the many lawsuits Activision files against its employees and creative partners."

This is the single most epic quote I've ever seen.

Seriously though, who in their right mind would believe Activision after they've been withholding royalties, facts, breaking into Infinity Ward HQ or whatever, interrogating 2 people without the interference of police (honestly, I'd have sued them just for that) and now, apparently spreading lies (although this could really be just EA wanting to slap Activision in the face. They're competitors, after all.).

I remember the days when EA was looked down upon, but now they're probably the most popular publisher on the market. Good to see that.

This is why I caution against knee-jerk reactions. We only have hearsay that any of that happened. For all we know, Activision is in the right and West/Zampella were the guilty parties.

Let's wait for it to get settled in court.

Jeff Brown deserves many cookies

"morphed from valued, responsible executives soldiers into insubordinate and self-serving schemers who attempted to hijack ActivisionAmericain Army's assets for their own personal gain."

Soap and Price?

Oh snap indeed. Great comment from EA. I wish we could hear more quips like this in the industry.

Someone remind me of why there's any connection at all to EA here? Did the IW x's go over to EA now? Or is it just that Activision is seriously that desperate to grasp at straws as to try and draw out this elaborate story?

Unfortunately I hate EA just as much, I think I'd like to point out Command & Conquer 4 as one of their more recent failures.

Seriously though, who in their right mind would believe Activision after they've been withholding royalties, facts, breaking into Infinity Ward HQ or whatever, interrogating 2 people without the interference of police (honestly, I'd have sued them just for that) and now, apparently spreading lies (although this could really be just EA wanting to slap Activision in the face. They're competitors, after all.)

Withholding royalties to who? to 2 employees they just fired? I understand others have received their checks some are getting 6 figure checks. when was the last time you got a 6 figure bonus check?

Breaking into IW offices? What crack are you smoking? IW is a part of Activision, those are their offices.

Interrogation 2 people without the police? I understand they were asked to come to a meeting in a conference room. They may have spun it as an interrogation, but i guess you can say that any time your boss questions you. They weren't forced to show up.

spreading lies? what makes you believe they are lying? Just because activisions lawyer says its a lie it must be? Have you once heard Jason or vince say that they didn't go to EA to meet to discuss leaving activison and starting their own team? Because if it was a lie, dont you think they would say so?

You guys need to remember there are 2 sides to this story.

Hahahaha EA. Good one.

OT: Im beginning to think Activision is slimier than I thought. None of the claims they made make any sense. And the "theyre trying to steal IW arguement" just sounds like activision got scared that they would lose money if IW went to another company which im sure its legitimatly allowed to do

I'm still inclined to side with West and Zampella on this one--Activision isn't exactly known for subtlety and friendliness. And that's not even mentioning Activision's Goblin of a CEO, known for his need to eat people's money.

John Funk:

This is why I caution against knee-jerk reactions. We only have hearsay that any of that happened. For all we know, Activision is in the right and West/Zampella were the guilty parties.

Let's wait for it to get settled in court.

While I'm totally with you on wanting to hear the actual outcome, who's lying, who's not, who's owed money, and who has to cough up, all that, you know deep down you really want Activision to be a little guilty, right? If for nothing else than for the company heads agreeing that making games should only be for the money? C'mon, surely that has to tweak your sway a little, right Funk?

Well best of luck to the two lead dudes. Don't know who they are but I'd rather see Activision drown in a pool of piss than IDK, Hitler

John Funk:

This is why I caution against knee-jerk reactions. We only have hearsay that any of that happened. For all we know, Activision is in the right and West/Zampella were the guilty parties.

Let's wait for it to get settled in court.

No, I don't feel at all guilty condemning Activision. They're guilty of something, even is it is just being a bunch of cockbags.

BehattedWanderer:
I'm still inclined to side with West and Zampella on this one--Activision isn't exactly known for subtlety and friendliness. And that's not even mentioning Activision's Goblin of a CEO, known for his need to eat people's money.

John Funk:

This is why I caution against knee-jerk reactions. We only have hearsay that any of that happened. For all we know, Activision is in the right and West/Zampella were the guilty parties.

Let's wait for it to get settled in court.

While I'm totally with you on wanting to hear the actual outcome, who's lying, who's not, who's owed money, and who has to cough up, all that, you know deep down you really want Activision to be a little guilty, right? If for nothing else than for the company heads agreeing that making games should only be for the money? C'mon, surely that has to tweak your sway a little, right Funk?

No, not really.

John Funk:

BehattedWanderer:
I'm still inclined to side with West and Zampella on this one--Activision isn't exactly known for subtlety and friendliness. And that's not even mentioning Activision's Goblin of a CEO, known for his need to eat people's money.

John Funk:

This is why I caution against knee-jerk reactions. We only have hearsay that any of that happened. For all we know, Activision is in the right and West/Zampella were the guilty parties.

Let's wait for it to get settled in court.

While I'm totally with you on wanting to hear the actual outcome, who's lying, who's not, who's owed money, and who has to cough up, all that, you know deep down you really want Activision to be a little guilty, right? If for nothing else than for the company heads agreeing that making games should only be for the money? C'mon, surely that has to tweak your sway a little, right Funk?

No, not really.

wait so youre okay paying a fourth of the actual game price for something an experienced user could have made in a few hours?

Activision needs a good slap in the face, because they do this shit constantly. Maybe if you guys didn't run the company with "fear and dread" or whatever it was you'd have a more favorable encounter with your employees.

John Funk:

No, not really.

Really? Actually neutral? How curious. Or am I misreading, and you're secretly hoping West and Zampella get what's coming to 'em, for reasons undisclosed?

Holy crap, it hasn't ended yet?!

Someone get me my popcorn back!

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