Activision Countersues, Former Execs Return Fire Again
We told you it'd get messy.
After Activision fired Infinity Ward studio bosses Vince Zampella and Jason West last month, the hostility began. Almost immediately after their termination, both Zampella and West sued the publisher for the loss of some $36 million in damages plus ultimate control of the lucrative "Modern Warfare" franchise. And not surprisingly, Activision hasn't taken all this sitting down: according to The Los Angeles Times, the publisher has filed a countersuit with the Los Angeles County Superior Court against Zampella and West, due to their aforementioned claims of "breach of contract and insubordination." And the wording isn't exactly pleasant; Activision says the former leads were involved in "an unlawful pattern and practice of conduct that was designed to steal the [Infinity Ward] studio...at the expense of Activision and its shareholders and for their own personal financial gain." There's also mention of Zampella and West going "on a secret trip by private jet to Northern California," in order to meet with former employer Electronic Arts. EA wasn't specifically named in the suit but their HQ is located just south of San Francisco and after all, EA is Activision's biggest competitor.
It just goes on and on. Activision said the two guys actually kept the publisher from "awarding compensation" to the IW team, just so those employees could be easier to "poach" when Zampella and West left to form their own company. They even say the former studio leads held up development of Modern Warfare 3 as a bid to gain more money and one of the more scathing parts of the suit reads:
"...morphed from valued, responsible executives into insubordinate and self-serving schemers who attempted to hijack Activision's assets for their own personal gain and whose actions threatened both the future of the Call of Duty franchise and future of Activision's (Infinity Ward) studio."
Activision told GameSpot this countersuit shows the former employees were fired for "good reason." They add that they were "forced to sever the relationship when it became apparent that long-standing attempts failed to convince West and Zampella to conform their conduct to what was required of them by their contracts, company policies and as fiduciaries." Oh, wait, wait...it gets better. West and Zampella's attorney sent out a a reply to all this via press release, where it says Activision's claims are "false and outrageous." Plus:
"Just one example is Activision's allegation that Jason and Vince conspired to spin off Infinity Ward. Activision itself proposed spinning off Infinity Ward when, last year, it sought to renegotiate Jason and Vince's contract to induce them to forego developing a new game in favor of doing another Modern Warfare sequel. Jason and Vince had hired the Creative Artists Agency to advise them in their negotiations with Activision, not to breach their contract."
In the end, the statement says this whole countersuit is just a way for Activision to drag their heels in paying out "millions of dollars" to those who are owed for their efforts. 'whew' Man, this is only going to get worse before it gets better.
4/9/2010 8:48:37 PM Ben Dutka