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Activision/IW Snafu: Royalty Issues, Breach Of Contract

This so deserves a separate headline just because it's a colossal giant mess with tons of intrigue and drama.

We're still not entirely sure what happened between Activision and Infinity Ward but at the very least, we know it was a falling out of some kind. Last night, we learned that IW bosses Vince Zampella and Jason West never returned from a meeting with Activision; after which, some "bouncer types" showed up at IW and really freaked everyone out. Well, now it seems that both Zampella and West have been fired and there may even be a lawsuit that follows. Why? Like we said, it's a mess. You may want to read through the updates over at Binge Gamer, because there's a lot to go over. Firstly, it seems the developers haven't received any royalties for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 yet; a game that has earned Activision over $1 billion in revenue thus far. Maybe it's just a contractual thing and IW isn't supposed to receive any royalties just yet, but we can't be sure. Secondly, although Activision owns Infinity Ward, the development studio is technically autonomous; they're merely held in place by a contract that expires in October. The problem seems to revolve around the Call of Duty franchise: Activision may want the rights to the name but Infinity Ward holds them. If IW doesn't want to do a Modern Warfare 3, Activision probably does and needs another developer...hence, they need those rights.

The last part is downright nasty- according to recent SEC paperwork filed by Activision, there were "breaches of contract and insubordination by two senior employees at Infinity Ward." An inside source believes IW may have been in talks with a "rival publisher," which is likely the breach Activision is claiming. Interestingly enough, come October when the Acti/IW contract dissolves, Infinity Ward could hire Zampella and West back. Maybe they'll just take a little vacation for now...? Anyway, we're certain there's more to this story but we'll let it lie for now until either party comes forward with something official.

3/2/2010 10:44:02 AM Ben Dutka

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Comments (86 posts)

MadKatBebop
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 11:07:53 AM
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Wow! that's some sh*t!

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Alienange
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 12:49:37 PM

And we know who's ass it came out of.

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www
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 3:39:32 PM

And IW is the WC

Agree with this comment 3 up, 1 down Disagree with this comment

Jawknee
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 11:12:48 AM
Reply

Maybe a blessing in disguise. Craptivision is well...crap and maybe IW would do better in their own or with another, better publisher. .

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johnld
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 8:10:46 PM

i hope sony picks up infinity ward when the contract is up.

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Dancemachine55
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 8:31:00 PM

Fat chance.

Unfortunately, M$ has more $ than Sony, I wouldn't doubt THEY'D love to get their hands on Modern Warfare 3 as an exclusive. M$ did try to buyout EA after all, but EA loves being multiplat too much to agree with the exclusive deal.

Hopefully IW will feel the same and remain multiplat. However, having played BF BC 2 demo, Modern Warfare 2 is pretty crap in my eyes. A few awesome moments, but once their gone, that's it!!!

IW does deserve better treatment than this though. We here at PSXextreme have always known the truth!!! Activision is the devil who continue to beat a dead horse. Anything under their name has a big title with a lousy game underneath it. Might have something to do with how they treat their developers.

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Akuma07
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 9:22:06 PM

Infinity ward dont want to do anymore MW games

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Alienange
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 9:35:56 PM

@ Akuma07 - Maybe if IW was seeing some of the royalties for MW2 then they'd be interested in a MW3?

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JackC8
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 11:17:05 AM
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This is almost as entertaining as the Jerry Springer Show.

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coverton341
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 12:43:40 PM

Oh nuh-uh! No you dient just say dat bout my baby daddy.

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photo K
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 1:17:55 PM

DRAMA MAMA

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SvenMD
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 2:11:23 PM

Why did Coverton get a thumbs down?

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Hitch
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 3:45:59 PM

For being stereotypical.

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coverton341
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 5:47:10 PM

You know I could accept that if I had only seen one race go on Jerry Springer and act that way. Hell, I would even call myself an ass if that were the case but if you have ever seen the show, and unfortunately I have you know that anything and everything that graces that screen acts that way so, yeah I guess I was being stereotypical to the fact that everyone that is on Jerry Springer sounds like they crawled out of a first cousin relationship moment to have fifteen minutes of fame.

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Karosso
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 11:17:17 AM
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Come on Sony, go knock on their doors before MS does!

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Nynja
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 11:20:11 AM
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Interesting stuff. The other story I've collectively gathered from other publications think it may be related to breaking inside trading federal laws. Though, this seems more likely.

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Epimetheus
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 11:36:54 AM
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They could make an FPS game of this, sneaking around, espionage stuff, steal the hard drives, "get to da choppa" ...

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Natalisrubbish
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 11:44:34 AM

LOL!

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fluffer nutter
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 12:12:21 PM

I can totally here Arnold saying that, right now. LMAO

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animalmother
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 7:44:58 PM

Ya i could see it now, Arnold is to protect I/W. They'll need it too because Carl Mayweather has been hired by Activision Private Military corp to bring in the I/W CEO.

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spiderboi
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 10:24:11 PM

And the bouncer dudes would be the semi-final boss. Kotick would be the final boss. He'd fling you all sorts of junk: from Guitar Hero , peripherals, DJ hero's and binding contracts with fine prints on profits for himself.

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556pineapple
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 11:47:28 AM
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Maybe IW really is at fault here, but it doesn't seem like it. I guess it really doesn't matter anyway because my distaste for Activision is continually growing. I hope IW can get out of there.

Last edited by 556pineapple on 3/2/2010 11:48:43 AM

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Mr Bitey
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 11:52:33 AM
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Bobby Kotick: Antichrist extraordinaire.

Just when you think Activision can't possibly stoop lower, they always do.

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kraygen
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 2:30:56 PM

I gave u a thumbs up but i slightly disagree. I always think they can get worse because i truly believe they have a whole division dedicated to making themselves the deliverers of hell on earth.

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Scarecrow
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 11:55:02 AM
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lol!

Both Squeeeeenix and Activision are crashing
Karma doesn't mess around...

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Dancemachine55
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 8:41:40 PM

Have to thumb you down for that one.

Yes, Square Enix has made many "questionable" decisions lately, but they are no where near the same league as Activision.

Activision is the devil personified through a gaming company. All they see is $ in their eyes. They have no care or respect for gamers or developers, whereas Square Enix still kinda do.

But these companies have a long way to go to earn the same respect we give to Sony and Nintendo. Old Snake and Mario FTW!!!!

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maxpontiac
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 11:55:16 AM
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Sony needs to drop the money and secure Infinity Ward as 1st party developer.

Naughty Dog.
Guerilla Games.
Santa Monica.
Insomniac.
Infinity Ward??

Wow!

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Karosso
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 12:02:02 PM

That sounds like a sure recipe for Xbot heart attach LOL

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LividFiction
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 12:03:16 PM

Actually, Insomniac is an independent developer.

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Nynja
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 12:09:29 PM

Don't forget about Media Molecule

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Dustinwp
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 12:37:23 PM

I would also like to add to your list

Zipper Interactive
Team ICO
Evolution Studios

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Alienange
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 12:49:02 PM

I like the song you guys are singing.

Agree with this comment 17 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Nynja
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 3:00:48 PM

Polyphony Digital

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ace_boon_coon
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 4:32:06 PM

(drooling)

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Dancemachine55
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 8:48:31 PM

I'm sure Sony would be kind enough to offer them some leniency as to what kinda game they make. Doesn't have to be another Modern Warfare (although 1 more might be nice as a PS3 exclusive).

I can see Sony appealing to their good side with patience and freedom to create whatever they want. M$ sound like they'll beat more CoD's outta IW until it dies, much like what their doing to Bungie with Halo. M$ just keep offering companies more money to entice them to the land of the Red Rings. They have no soul, conscience or shame.

(eeew, just got an image of M$ being a child-thief who entices them with candy, while Sony is the police looking out for their safety. Nintendo is the playground the kids hang out at, hehe. The metaphor works far too well)

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FullmetalX10
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 12:00:52 PM
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Damn, these peepz are in sum shady-ass business. But hey, that's what you get when you an swim in cash, your brain gets twisted in the wrong way...

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0_o
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 12:02:30 PM
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Yep Sony have to make a move on this! Just imagine IW making a fps game just for PS3! I can guarantee PS3 sales will rise like crazy XD!! I think I drank alot of coffee!

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Nynja
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 12:09:57 PM

O_o

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Dancemachine55
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 8:50:57 PM

We already got a PS3 exclusive shooter. Killzone!!!

IW would have one helluva time topping that, especially if they want to keep framerates high and splitscreen multiplayer in their games.

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Brklynty1
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 12:35:45 PM
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Wow just wow lmfao at activision. Yea of course activision. Let the developer company that brought you billions walk away. XD oh there's no worries because you have Treyarch? Lmfao! I doubt IW would want to be bought out by a console company like Microsoft and Sony because I'm sure they'd want as much money as they can get. But as for a publshier company, I can't really think of anyone at the moment. IW is just that good. Anywas you never know, october is still a long way from now, so they might reconcile. But if they don't, SONY I'm sorry, but you better use a mictosoft card and throw a blank check their way, CRUSH THE COMPETITION!

Last edited by Brklynty1 on 3/2/2010 12:37:05 PM

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photo K
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 1:21:17 PM

They should suck it up and work it out. Maybe the parties are both past that and have had enough of each other. too bad... hopefully the IW team sticks together somehow.

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NiteKrawler
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 12:37:31 PM
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Infinity Ward/Activision/MW2 now officially hold the record for most controversies surrounding one group.

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Alienange
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 12:48:28 PM
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Be careful Blizzard, you're next.

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___________
Wednesday, March 03, 2010 @ 1:00:19 AM

meh, they can have blizzard.
they have released absolutely nothing in like what 5 years?
just milking the WoW cow to death, but than i guess thats moneyvisions company model.
diablo 3 for example it was suppose to be out last year, than this and now there saying not befor 2012.
just release the god dam thing already!
god, and i thought GT5 was taking its sweet time.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 1:07:45 PM
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Break the eff away from Actiblizzard and Bobby Kotex! Make PS3 exclusives so your games don't suck. Problem fixed.

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Hezzron
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 1:27:44 PM
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Did you guys hear that?....That was the sound of Activision stock crashing.

I also heard that Bobby Kotick likes to wear the skins of former developers as he parades around the Activision offices.

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St_Jimmy
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 3:55:46 PM

Bobby actually had a movie made about him.It's called silence of the lambs.

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Geobaldi
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 4:33:36 PM

Actually, their stocks haven't really been affected that much. In fact they're up higher now than they were when they opened.

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BadBrad
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 1:42:40 PM
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Everyone's missing the bigger picture here...if IW leave then Activision are screwed ...why ? Because IW own the IP CALL OF DUTY...which would mean if they walk away ...Activison wounld not be able to even release COD 7 XMAS time....it would be their biggest mess up ever...
Sony should buy them...then in 2 years time release...

Killzone 3 : The Call Of Duty !!!!!!!!!!

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rogers71
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 1:57:00 PM

No, No, No... I believe IW owns the rights to Modern Warfare. Activision can make another Call of Duty, they just can't make another MW.

Doesn't bother me anyway, Treyarch's SP storylines are always better than IW's. IW gets the nod in MP but I don't bother with MP so keep em coming Treyarch. I will be happy.

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sunspider13
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 2:02:26 PM
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Wow...so some of the pieces fall in place now. Can't wait to hear more.

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GuernicaReborn
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 2:05:57 PM
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F--- Activision.

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St_Jimmy
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 3:56:43 PM

well said brother.

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Oyashiro
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 2:12:07 PM
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You keep staying classy Activision.

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ace_boon_coon
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 4:34:44 PM

lol lol lol activision has no class. they're barbarians.

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Banky A
Wednesday, March 03, 2010 @ 4:22:13 AM

Ron Burdandy's got class. He's non barbarian, he's an Anchorman.

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SvenMD
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 2:17:31 PM
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I think the best part about this Activision/IW scandal is that it quickly took the press off of the minor PSN downtime.

Perfect timing Activision!!

Gotta love scandals.

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SSRGohan
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 2:17:31 PM
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who was this "rival publisher"??? I wonder

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OtisFeelgood
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 2:52:00 PM

Probably EA. ;x

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Nynja
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 2:58:11 PM

You misspelled that...

try; SCEA

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OtisFeelgood
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 3:09:27 PM

Haha.

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kraygen
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 2:41:31 PM
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Maybe I missed something but can someone clear this up for me. If as Ben says Activision does not own IW, but merely has them under contract until october, then how could Activision fire the heads at IW?

On another point, all IW is know for is shooters and if they do in fact part ways to start a new IP, i for one pray that it is not a shooter. Then we can really determine how good of a developer they are.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 3:00:16 PM

The contract gives Activision that kind of control, apparently.

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Nynja
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 3:00:34 PM

What about Polyphony Digital? They only make racing games. Does this mean we cannot determine how good of a developer they are until they do a different genre?

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Oyashiro
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 3:05:39 PM

PD also made Omega Boost for the PS1, and it was awesome.

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Wage SLAVES
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 3:09:19 PM

Yeah, cuz Michael Jordan was the best basketball player until he played baseball to show us...he wasn't the best basketball player.

If your good at something why change unless your creativity is absolutely driving you there?

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kraygen
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 3:11:42 PM

@Nynja

Actually Polyphony made a game called omega boost which i've never played but psx gave an 8.9 review, others not so nice a score but anyway they have done other things. On the other hand i find racing games much more interesting than shooters.

My earlier comment was just me showing my anti-shooter bias really. =)

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Miggy
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 3:12:37 PM

Ben says that the studio is technically independent given their contract but Activision actually does own them. I'm guessing Activision owns IW until their contract is up or something like that. That's what I deducted from that statement anyways; I could be wrong.

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Nynja
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 3:41:04 PM

@Oyashiro & Kraygen

Tuche.

Last edited by Nynja on 3/2/2010 3:42:16 PM

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sunspider13
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 5:45:52 PM

@Oyashiro

Right on! Omega Boost was a great game. Now what if PD brought that to the PS3?

*crosses fingers*

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FxTales
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 2:49:02 PM
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Just sounds like good old greed on Activision's part.

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Wage SLAVES
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 3:04:56 PM
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!!!!BOYCOTT ACTIVISION!!!

Take the fun out of video games, yeah take the $ out of your pockets, pricks!

Funny thing is makes you wonder what all that exclusive Xbox 360 and supporting M$ off at E3 last year....

Wanna speculate that they were about to jump into bed with M$, they did say that they did the special console because they had such a good relationship with M$...

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Nynja
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 3:46:21 PM

Now that you mention that... I wonder if the other publisher was Microsoft. Think about it.

IW does seem to favor the 360 system. Exclusivity deals on DLC, bundles, advertising. Microsoft would absolutely love to get IW's new IP as an exclusive on the 360 to battle it out with Sony's onslaught of upcoming exclusives. Obviously Activision won't have that because that would lower their target customer base in half. Sure less money for Activision, but as long as IW stays with them, we'll continue to get more games on PS3.

If this were the case, would we all be bashing Activision still? Or would the tide turn against Infinity Ward?

Just a thought.

Last edited by Nynja on 3/2/2010 3:48:03 PM

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Jed
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 3:12:32 PM
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I would like to see IW set free to work on other stuff that they want to do, instead of being Activision's COD slaves. While I'm not a big fan of the online stuff, it's easy to see that IW has a whole lot of potential to do more than just MW.

Whatever happens, I would be cool with it as long as Activision looses money.

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www
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 3:35:38 PM
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I knew it! I'm pretty sure its something to do with making moves with a rival publisher, that could be EA, these guys wanted a whole publisher like Take-Two badly, not even the studio Rockstar, how much more IW.

Last edited by www on 3/2/2010 3:36:21 PM

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rogers71
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 5:26:45 PM
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IW needs to jump aboard that MMO FPS train and ride it till the wheels fall off. The SP on all their games are just run of the mill.

Deny it all you want but IW just can't make a game with any kind of story line.

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Alienange
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 9:46:29 PM

Ok. I'll be the first to deny that. The two Modern Warfare games have the best single player FPS stories to date. They are gripping, harrowing, and down right brutal. Nobody turns away from the screen when MW is on.

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___________
Wednesday, March 03, 2010 @ 12:55:24 AM

no all COD games have the worst stories to date.
could not understand what the ^%$# was going on in MW2, and there pathetic attempt of shock and awe just proves how desperate and pathetic they are.
IW may know how to make a fantastic online game (thats why its so buggy and full of hackers) but when it comes to single player stories, even rebellion have them out pegged!

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rogers71
Wednesday, March 03, 2010 @ 1:13:09 AM

@Alienage,
Why does it not surprise me that we once again disagree. The story in World at War far surpasses either MW game for character immersion and story path.

IW puts you into a battle with person "A" and then the next level is person "B". There really is no story connecting the levels.

Whereas, WaW made you get connected with and care about the characters you were portraying. You actually feel some modicum of danger when playing and you actually fear for the character.

You know as well as I do that IW puts their MP before all other aspects. Give me a Resistance, Killzone or a Treyarch developed COD any day over IW's watered down SP campaign.

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BikerSaint
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 8:23:48 PM
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Just IMO.....
According to all the many sources I've seen so far, Anti-vision has controlling rights to IW, but only till around August I believe, when their contract ends.

And IW partly owns the name "MW", so there's nothing kotex can do about it, other than flexing his muscles like he's just done before IW walks away.

The way I see it, this is Kotek's way of bullying the remaining IW little guys.......
1. by holding their royalties for ransom until they either starve, or cave-in to all of his demands.

2. by firing the 2 IW bosses while he was still able to do so, in a show of force to scare IW into either, re-signing before the contract expires, or to get IW to relinquish their rights & ownership of the name "MW" before they walk.

Kotek "WILL" do everything he can to make life at IW even more unbearable until either August rolls around, or he's gotten his way.
So I hope for IW's sake that they can hold out till August, and once they're free of the maniacal ruler, they can show him what "REAL PAYBACKS are all about. Plus, they can re-hire their 2 fired bosses right back too.

Come on Sony, here's the chance to give kotex a good karma lesson for all of his prior a$$inine demands that you lower the PS3 price.

And Sony.....with just 1 fell swipe of your mighty pen, you can even put MS in it's place at the very same time!!!!

So now you need to bringing on your AAA game & step it up.......breaking out the cash and contracts, and have both ready for an August signing!

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___________
Wednesday, March 03, 2010 @ 12:50:57 AM
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wait so activision refuses them royalties and the IW guys get fired?
activision breaks the contract and IW get punished?
sounds like there getting fired for being disloyal since when is that reasons to be fired?
if i was them, id be suing activision for unfair dismissal and early termination of contract.
thats what my boss tried to do with me, and i got him into a heap of sh*t because of it, bastard was not paying me super or overtime either.
thats what happens when you play with fire, YOU GET BURNED!

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Nynja
Wednesday, March 03, 2010 @ 8:17:52 AM
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Latest rumor is that Activision is struggling with failing sales of Guitar Hero 42, Tony Hawk 56, and DJ Hero. They have already laid off employees at Neversoft and closed Red Octaine's doors. Activision wanted West to layoff employees at Infinity Ward and they refused thus leading to allegations of "insubordination" and breach of contract.

It would not surprise me if West and Zampella walked in attempt to save the jobs of their employees or simply pride.

Man I cannot wait to hear the actual facts of what had happened. One thing is for sure, Activision is the new "EA" and in my book can go suck a big fat Kodick.

Until the truth is revealed (if ever) I will never buy another Activision published game.

Boycotting begins now.

Last edited by Nynja on 3/3/2010 8:20:40 AM

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BikerSaint
Wednesday, March 03, 2010 @ 2:31:22 PM
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With ya there, Nynja!
Also boycotting kotex & antiChrist-vision!

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SnipeySnake
Wednesday, March 03, 2010 @ 2:34:48 PM
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Good, i hate IW and Activision.

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stemon
Wednesday, March 03, 2010 @ 3:51:04 PM
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IW have made it clear they dont wanna do MW IP, MW2 campaign is silly short that to me says the devs cant really do what they want to do and are being told to just to MP.

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shootu
Sunday, March 07, 2010 @ 11:05:02 PM
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@___________ STFU you are the biggest dumbass!

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