Activision Slapped With Another Infinity Ward Lawsuit

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Activision Slapped With Another Infinity Ward Lawsuit

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38 current and former Infinity Ward employees have filed a huge lawsuit against Activision, alleging that the company is withholding bonuses in order to "keep them hostage" and force them to work on Modern Warfare 3.

The issue of bonuses owed to Infinity Ward employees for the success of Modern Warfare 2 has been a sticky one since the IW/Activision debacle began back in early March. Activision accused fired Infinity Ward co-founders Jason West and Vince Zampella of fomenting unrest by taking an "inordinately large share of the bonus pools" for themselves while leaving little for other employees, and last week revealed that the "very large bonuses" owed to the pair would instead be redistributed among employees who stuck with the studio.

But a collection of 38 past and present employees calling itself the Infinity Ward Employee Group has other ideas: It has filed a lawsuit against Activision claiming between $75 million and $125 million in compensation, a figure which includes various unpaid bonuses from Modern Warfare 2, lost value on "restricted stock units," money owed for "sister games" including the in-progress Modern Warfare 3, interest on all of it and more. And that's not all: The suit also seeks another $75 to $500 million in punitive damages, a number based on the huge revenues generated by Modern Warfare 2 and "Activision's net worth."

"Activision has withheld most of the money to force many of my people to stay, some against their will, so that they would finish the delivery of Modern Warfare 3," claimed Bruce Isaacs, one of the lawyers representing the IWEG. "That is not what they wanted to do. Many of them. My clients [are] entitled to their money. Activision has no right to withhold their money - our money."

The group claims that the only condition attached to the bonuses was the on-schedule launch of Modern Warfare 2, which took place as planned on November 10, 2009, yet Activision still refuses to pay up. "In short, Activision withheld the property of the IWEG in an attempt to keep the employees hostage so that Activision could reap the benefit of the completion of Modern Warfare 3."

Unfortunately for Activision, its "bonus redistribution" incentive (or blackmail, depending on your perspective) didn't do much to staunch the bleeding - at last count, 26 employees have left the studio since West and Zampella were canned, with nearly half that number following them to their new venture at Respawn Entertainment. The situation has grown so bad that one analyst has predicted that in spite of Activision's brave words, Infinity Ward has pretty much had the biscuit.

"Continued defections from their Infinity Ward studio have created meaningful uncertainty around the future of their Call of Duty: Modern Warfare franchise," Janco Partners analyst Mike Hickey told Gamasutra. "We expect Infinity Ward studio will be essentially closed after their next map pack release, with development work on Modern Warfare 3 spread between two studios not historically tied to the franchise."

Source: G4tv

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I don't even think Phoenix Wright could handle all these court cases...

Calumon: Objection!

Ouch, someone get Activision a medic! Or a ton of REALLY good lawyers...

Wow Activision. It seems the price you pay for being assholes to your sub-contractors has just been named.

$75 million?

I'd laugh in there faces if anyone tried to take $75 million from me. I'd tank a company on purpose before I coughed up $75 million... unless I was making a good billion or so. Then I'd settle for it out of court and pony it up, in cash. Which I would arrange to have burned.

Catkid906:
...

I don't even think Phoenix Wright could handle all these court cases...

Calumon: Objection!

*grin* nice

Rainboq:
Ouch, someone get Activision a medic! Or a ton of REALLY good lawyers...

Thats the problem, Activision has great lawyers, though EA bested them when Activision attempted to kill Brütal Legend. But infintity ward doesn't have a law-department anywhere near the size of EAs or activision/blizz's.
Plus Activision has control over all the Information like paymentplans etc and wrote the contract.
They could have included as many ripoffs in the fineprint as they want.
I don't think anyone doubts that activision uses the now increasing bonuses (just when people started to leave) in order to force people to work at activision.
Why else would they increase per person just now and take so long?
But Activison might still win, no matter whether they are wrong or right.

Still don't know who was right in the West and Zampella lawsuit, but this one seems a lot more clear cut in favor of the employees. It should be relatively simple to show where in the contract bonus conditions are and to then apply that, no matter how much Activision tries to gum up the works.

"The group claims that the only condition attached to the bonuses was the on-schedule launch of Modern Warfare 2, which took place as planned on November 10, 2009,"

We all knew they rushed MW2 out and made it suck.

Rainboq:
Ouch, someone get Activision a medic! Or a ton of REALLY good lawyers...

I'm sure they have the latter part quite covered already. It's WAY too early to talk about which way this battle's gonna turn, especially since I'm positive Activision's got a ton of loopholes and technicalities lined up for exploitation already, but with such a RESOUNDING backlash from Infinity Ward I have a hard time seeing how a judge is going to side with Activision. When it was just West and Zampella it seemed like there was some ambiguity, like MAYBE they could've been sneaking around behind Activision's backs like they were trying to claim, but they'd need some of the employees at Infinity Ward to testify against them to really run those claims home, and... it doesn't look like the other guys at Infinity Ward feel that way. 38 employees isn't exactly unanimous, but that seems pretty indicative that the dissatisfaction with Activision is pretty widespread within the company and that West and Zampella have nothing but support from their colleagues, and although I don't know a ton about legal practices I KNOW punitive damages is a big, BIG claim and that you don't try and file those without feeling like you've got one hell of a serious case...

Catkid906:
...

I don't even think Phoenix Wright could handle all these court cases...

Calumon: Objection!

Yeah...it seems that they are going crazy. They do right though, they are entitled to that money! And they should have it!

Right on Calumon!

$75 million to $500 million, that's a big leap...

Well, confirmation of widespread disaffection at the company soon to be formally known as Infinity Ward. Judging by Activision's "redistribution" comments, I'd say this lawsuit has a good case (even though it would inevitably be crushed by Activision's Lawsuit Repellant Machine).

Again, note how Activision is specified and the lack of any mentions of Blizzard.

I hope the employees get their money....and then go to Respawn.
But I think that is just me with my bummedoutedness towards Activision the past couple of years

Who hit the nuclear button? What a shit storm.

Win or lose, on both cases, this is causing some serious damage to Activision. People are complaining that MW2 didn't meet their expectations, wait until MW3 is made by Popcap...

Whoa whoa whoa.

Does this technically count as an announcement for MW3? I mean, we all knew it was coming but it hadn't been confirmed...

OT: this has to be the most dramatic downfall of one of the most popular game developers in history... Going from the creator of one of the biggest franchise's ever to the verge of collapse within mere months is... wow.

I really don't care about Activision or IW. I don't think Activision are any worse than other dev companies, everyone is in this business to make stacks of cash whatever way possible. There are no golden saints trying to make games just for the enjoyment of the public, no matter what losses they might encur.

But this shit is just getting tiresome. Every other week theres something new happening between these two companies.

Fun stuff. Reading news like this is like the gaming equivalent of watching daytime soap dramas.
I want IW to crash and burn because I'm a terrible person and I would rather see something destroyed, as long as it doesn't affect my life in a meaningful way. But so far I've seen one side of the story (and you know that it was spun to hell due to there being lawyers involved), so I'll be eagerly awaiting news of further developments.

Hmmmmm.... Reggie keeps saying he wants more of these high profile, amazing games to be brought to the Wii. I can't think of a better way of getting in good with the talented devs of IW than saying "I heard you were gonna sue Activision, wanna borrow my legal team?" because as we all know the only thing scarier than a bunch of lawyers is a bunch of Nintendo's lawyers after your blood.

Delusibeta:
Well, confirmation of widespread disaffection at the company soon to be formally known as Infinity Ward. Judging by Activision's "redistribution" comments, I'd say this lawsuit has a good case (even though it would inevitably be crushed by Activision's Lawsuit Repellant Machine).

Again, note how Activision is specified and the lack of any mentions of Blizzard.

when have blizzard ever gotten bad PR. Its understandable that theyre keeping totally out of this, they rule :)

Well activision are screwed anyone up for placing bets on how long it is before the company goes bankrupt?

From my looking at it, still seems to me its alot of bitchy employees not understanding that the laws in the united states are this. Employee lose, Employer win. They live in an at will state, meaning unless contract states a reason must be given, tehy can be fired for no reason what so ever, and the punitive damadge amoutn is stupid high. I personally think they are alot of greedy people and hope tehy all have their carriers ruined because no one wants to higher soemone who will sue the moment they dont get their toy.

Go Activision, fuck off infanty ward and respawn.

EA needs to make a fucking game in which a disgruntled IW employee, tired of being molested by Activision, quits and begins investigating the secrets behind the company, only to discover that the entire thing is a cover operation and that Bobby Kotick is actually an evil demon that feeds on money and the suffering of others and plans to devour the world.

I'd buy that.

I think the real kicker in this article is the size of the figure they're claiming from Activision. 75 MILLION? (at least!) Between 38 people that comes to about 2 million each. And this is just a bonus on their regular salary! Assuming their figures are legit (the grain of salt being that lawsuits are almost always inflated), then these guys are stupidly overpaid.

Regardless of who you believe, this is a clear sign that gaming is in a really decadent age. An utterly generic game breaks a few sales records due to aggressive marketing and a captive audience, and a feud reminiscent of the battles between the record industry and rockstars breaks out over who gets the biggest slice of the pie.

Rainboq:
Ouch, someone get Activision a medic! Or a ton of REALLY good lawyers...

An oxymoron surely? Good Lawyers?

Perhaps it won't be Ubisoft that's the first to go under.

Good to see Activision getting their ass handed to them. God they're a terrible company.

... Ooof. A lawsuit for about half a billion bucks, filed by 38 disgruntled employees. That's gotta be enough of a poke to make even a thick-skinned monster like Activision wince in pain.

Please let the employees win this suit. Id love it to see Bobby kotick lose a few dollars off his paycheck

Simalacrum:
Whoa whoa whoa.

Does this technically count as an announcement for MW3? I mean, we all knew it was coming but it hadn't been confirmed...

OT: this has to be the most dramatic downfall of one of the most popular game developers in history... Going from the creator of one of the biggest franchise's ever to the verge of collapse within mere months is... wow.

dont you mean weeks?

Catkid906:
...

I don't even think Phoenix Wright could handle all these court cases...

Calumon: Objection!

COUNTER OBJECTION!!

So, the people who made Modern Motherfrakking Warfare 2 want EVEN MORE MONEY? Geeze, get a life, Infinity Ward.

Wow. I wonder if they saw this happening when they sent those security into IW. Personally I'd very much enjoy seeing Blizzard use this wonderfully presented opportunity to sever ties to activision, although I am not knowledgeable if this can be actually done or not, of course.

Oh, and rebuilding Blizzard north would be cool too.

And maybe a couple flying pigs for good measure.

Andy Chalk:

"Activision has withheld most of the money to force many of my people to stay, some against their will, so that they would finish the delivery of Modern Warfare 3," claimed Bruce Isaacs, one of the lawyers representing the IWEG.

let my people go!

ahem, it doesn't seem to be the first time there are scandals about videogame companies treating their employees badly. I think $500 million might just be a bit too much, even for a big company like activision

KarumaK:
$75 million?

I'd laugh in there faces if anyone tried to take $75 million from me. I'd tank a company on purpose before I coughed up $75 million... unless I was making a good billion or so. Then I'd settle for it out of court and pony it up, in cash. Which I would arrange to have burned.

Activision is *THAT* big though, the company is worth about 10 Billion right now. A publicly traded company wouldn't allow a CEO to intentionally tank the company, that's a really good way to get sued by shareholders.

Simalacrum:
Whoa whoa whoa.

Does this technically count as an announcement for MW3? I mean, we all knew it was coming but it hadn't been confirmed...

OT: this has to be the most dramatic downfall of one of the most popular game developers in history... Going from the creator of one of the biggest franchise's ever to the verge of collapse within mere months is... wow.

Come on, you really think they wouldn't milk the Modern Warfare franchise until its lost every last bit of its original shine? This is Bobby Kotick we're talking about.

And I pray, oh how I pray that Activision gets what they deserve. Bobby Kotick's a bastard, and he's sending that company into the shit-house.

TheGuy(wantstobe):
Hmmmmm.... Reggie keeps saying he wants more of these high profile, amazing games to be brought to the Wii. I can't think of a better way of getting in good with the talented devs of IW than saying "I heard you were gonna sue Activision, wanna borrow my legal team?" because as we all know the only thing scarier than a bunch of lawyers is a bunch of Nintendo's lawyers after your blood.

Not gonna happen. Activision makes games for the Wii. A lot of them. Best chance for help is Nintendo picking up some of these guys and making a hardcore first-party label. Or maybe help them start up a third or second party dev.

KarumaK:
$75 million?

I'd laugh in there faces if anyone tried to take $75 million from me. I'd tank a company on purpose before I coughed up $75 million... unless I was making a good billion or so. Then I'd settle for it out of court and pony it up, in cash. Which I would arrange to have burned.

Considering Modern Warfare 3 would be another blockbuster hit, 75 million now is chump change.

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