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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

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Comments (39 posts)

Xra897
Friday, April 09, 2010 @ 9:44:53 PM
Reply

Wat! No! Activision you guys are douches, first you killed Guitar Hero and now it's time to say goodbye to Call of Duty. You greedy money **** just let the people that make good games make good games. Next thing you know we got Starcraft Hero comming out.

Agree with this comment 4 up, 1 down Disagree with this comment

Darthvintage
Friday, April 09, 2010 @ 11:19:49 PM

Don't you dare sully the name of starcraft.

Agree with this comment 5 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Xra897
Saturday, April 10, 2010 @ 12:56:30 AM

Hey, it was Red Octane now Infinidy Ward and next is Blizzard

Agree with this comment 4 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Danny007
Friday, April 09, 2010 @ 9:52:39 PM
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Activision is starting World War 3 with Infinity Ward.

Agree with this comment 6 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Highlander
Friday, April 09, 2010 @ 10:12:27 PM
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As I said before, this will all end in tears. I'll ammend that to add, and large lawyer's bills.

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GuernicaReborn
Friday, April 09, 2010 @ 10:20:42 PM
Reply

"morphed from valued, responsible executives into insubordinate and self-serving schemers"

lol at the name calling, those dastardly little schemers. Maybe if activision paid their employees for a job well done they wouldn't have to counter-sue in the first place. Can Vince and Jason counter-counter-sue? Thats what I would do, just for the lulz.

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dachemists
Friday, April 09, 2010 @ 10:25:59 PM
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money is root of all evil, its all finger pointing, the pen is mightier than the sword, if these IW guys have bonuses coming, pay them, end of story, almost 18 million copies sold, thats over 1 billion in sales, i wonder what there bonuses are....10%???

it has to be big enough for activision to start dragging there feet

Last edited by dachemists on 4/9/2010 10:26:49 PM

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BTNwarrior
Saturday, April 10, 2010 @ 12:34:37 AM

money is not the root of all evil, humanity is the root of all evil. Because it matters not what is at stake, as long as one party has something to gain the humanity in them will find a way to screw over the other guy.

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dachemists
Saturday, April 10, 2010 @ 1:21:58 PM

humanity is evil??? i seem to think that humanity is overall good

Last edited by dachemists on 4/10/2010 1:22:19 PM

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WorldEndsWithMe
Saturday, April 10, 2010 @ 2:29:02 PM

the quote runs "The love of money is the root of all evil"

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BikerSaint
Friday, April 09, 2010 @ 10:27:53 PM
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I smell a steaming pile of anti-vision bull$$h!t..



This reminds me of a famous fairytale......

"Oh, mirror, mirror on the wall" kotex asked his magical anti-vision Wonderland mirror
"Who's the most powerful & richest CEO of them all???"

And his mirror then replied......."...

"It's certainly not you"......
"You morphed from a valued, responsible executive into insubordinate and self-serving schemer who's hijacked Activision's assets for your own personal gain, and whose actions threatened both the future of Infinity Ward studios and the future of Activision.

So, the moral of this story shall always be, (as soon proven in the court(s)yard of ex-IW Cheshire Hep-Cats).....

"Magic mirror's NEVER lie"

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SolidFantasy
Friday, April 09, 2010 @ 10:30:24 PM
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If I'm not mistaken. Wasn't Activision originally started by a disgruntled employee of Atari back in the early 80s who wasn't getting paid enough for hits like Pac Man? Maybe my VG history is off, but if that is true it would seem a little ironic on Activision's part.

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Hezzron
Saturday, April 10, 2010 @ 10:27:35 AM

You're right.

Agree with this comment 4 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Darthvintage
Friday, April 09, 2010 @ 10:56:30 PM
Reply

Activision What The Hell Happened?

Seriously?????

WHAT MADE YOU GUYS TURN EVIL!?!?!?

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Imagi
Saturday, April 10, 2010 @ 7:57:42 AM

Mr. B.K

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WorldEndsWithMe
Saturday, April 10, 2010 @ 2:30:22 PM

MS's greed is infectious.

Last edited by WorldEndsWithMe on 4/10/2010 2:30:29 PM

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BikerSaint
Friday, April 09, 2010 @ 11:06:09 PM
Reply

@Darthvintage,

Just one name that spells it all out in a nutshell.....

Boobie, the Kotex

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Darthvintage
Friday, April 09, 2010 @ 11:18:27 PM

Why hasn't the company's board kick him out yet?

He's the reason why activision is getting its bad name.

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Imagi
Saturday, April 10, 2010 @ 8:07:22 AM

He makes money for the shareholders, simple as. He delivers the goods, and looks good on paper. He has no interest in games and does not give a damn about the developers, creative process or end users, it is just a business to him.

Buying their games just continues to validate his practices, gamers are their own worst enemy, well some are, but they are gonna ruin it for all of us. Sad days.

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kraygen
Friday, April 09, 2010 @ 11:11:00 PM
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I think its funny that in all reality acticrap will probably pay more in lawyer fees trying to not get away with ripping these guys off, than if they had just payed them.

If we're lucky acticrap will lose and be out even more money and will be forced into making really awesome game and keeping their word to their customers. Probably not, but I can hope can't I?

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Scarecrow
Friday, April 09, 2010 @ 11:28:17 PM
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I always disliked Activision

Evil/nasty company

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tes37
Friday, April 09, 2010 @ 11:39:35 PM
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I think Bobby Kotick's parents should have named him Robby.

Agree with this comment 6 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

BTNwarrior
Saturday, April 10, 2010 @ 12:35:46 AM
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Go Activision, prove to the whole world you are the biggest douchbags in the entire gaming industry

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___________
Saturday, April 10, 2010 @ 2:09:33 AM
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ohhhhhh how funny would it be if the whole team of IW went over to EA?
as they say revenge is a dish best served cold!
now thats how you add insult to injury, slice their gut open than rub salt all over it.
it would be interesting to see IW and dice working on a new game, imagine IW doing the SP and dice doing the online stuff.
IW to me have always been better at story modes, the SP mode of MW2 while short is 10 times better than BFBC2s story mode.

im kinda half hearted on this because on one side i want moneyvision to suffer and the best way for that to happen is to see IW move over to EA.
but than on the other hand i almost hate EA just as much, so than it would be turning them back to their old selves.

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Dancemachine55
Saturday, April 10, 2010 @ 5:03:51 AM
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Imagine if Vince and everyone at IW decided to go with EA.

EA would then have Modern Warfare AND Bad Company to its name. They'd be laughing all the way to the bank, much like Nintendo with the DSi XL launch.

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Dancemachine55
Saturday, April 10, 2010 @ 5:09:11 AM
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I know everyone bags Activision, and rightly so, but they don't just make games for 3 franchises. Let's not forget Prototype. That was a pretty good game.

As for everything else...

I hope Activision boots Bobby Kotick real soon and find a legal loophole to prevent him from doing anything in the video games business again. They then compensate IW and the team for MW2, introduce a small lineup of new IP's, revolutionise GH, Tony Hawk and COD by giving developers full control of their product AND return to being a good guy company.

Aaah... one can dream. But is it really that hard? Will Activision lose any money from playing the good guys?

Money can only keep you company so long before you realise the rest of the world hates you.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Saturday, April 10, 2010 @ 2:42:29 PM

inFamous > prototype

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JackC8
Saturday, April 10, 2010 @ 7:09:20 AM
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Some company made some buggy game that everybody bought because everybody else was buying it. Then the publisher fired and sued the people who made it because they wanted all the money themselves.

Please, PLEASE buy the next COD game to show your support for this stuff!!!

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Athrin
Saturday, April 10, 2010 @ 7:43:45 AM
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that some nice activision basshing guys..but does any of u mean it, how many of of u bought activision games or even blizzard games( cuz blizz part of activision now) in the last 1-2 years. And i hope activision gets slaped around sily by those 2.

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Scarecrow
Saturday, April 10, 2010 @ 6:43:12 PM

I've never bought an Activision game

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LightShow
Saturday, April 10, 2010 @ 8:54:46 AM
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Oh Snap!

but seriously, when you tango with the diablo in the pale moon light, your gonna get burned. Activision has made it very clear in the past they honor nothing if it isnt written down and signed in triplicate, and that they play dirty.

one of these days its gonna get through their heads that all this really bad PR is gonna translate into bad cashflow, but personally i'll never trust them with my money until a change of leadership happens. the CEO obviously has no problem throwing his wieght aroud to get studios to do what he wants, and when money starts to govern studios instead of just the publisher, a fall in quality is inevitable.

at least EA has the good sense to keep their hands off their big dogs and to just let them work.

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Athrin
Saturday, April 10, 2010 @ 9:09:43 AM

in the game industry bad PR does nothing, or MW2 would not have sold so much cuz its a vastly inferior game to whats out there already.

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LightShow
Saturday, April 10, 2010 @ 2:07:00 PM

Sequels sell largely on the success of the one before it, and the horrible glitchiness didn't become public until a couple weeks after launch and after the vast majority of their games were sold

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Hezzron
Saturday, April 10, 2010 @ 10:44:05 AM
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TH is dead, GH is dying and COD has been severely injured by "friendly" fire. There is going to come a time when Activision is going to need some new IPs, and their reputation with devs is most certainly going to get in the way of creating new ones.

If gamers won't stop buying Activision products due to their politics, they'll certainly stop buying them when the quality is really in the toilet due to second rate, make-shift development teams.

Has no one learned from the lesson taught to Metallica? You don't bite the hand that feeds you!

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Alienange
Saturday, April 10, 2010 @ 11:15:39 AM

IW certainly wan't a two man show, but I'd wager the rest of the employees can't be too thrilled over Activision's attack. I'd have to agree that with the heart pulled out of IW, the games will suffer.

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Tim Speed24
Saturday, April 10, 2010 @ 11:55:00 AM
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Funny how money changes things. No matter who you are or what company you are.....millions of dollars corrupts your thinking.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Saturday, April 10, 2010 @ 2:46:14 PM
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It's hard to imagine that the IW guys are the bad guys in this, painting them as such only makes Activision look like the big arseholes that they already are. It's a shame I hate these guys so much cuz I'm mildly interested in Spiderman Shattered Dimensions.

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Milonakis
Saturday, April 10, 2010 @ 8:00:26 PM
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Activision should team up with square enix and make Call of Duty: Battle for Midgar.

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BikerSaint
Saturday, April 10, 2010 @ 9:11:02 PM
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If Se & Anti-vision were to merge, they should also change their name to something more adequate to what we would wind up preceiving any of their new games to be....

Names like.....
Vomitorium, Barfaloney, Mainstream Diarrhea, or even Square Doo Doo

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