Activision and ex-Infinity Ward leads Jason West and Vince Zampella find themselves in a bit of a tiff after Activision filed a lawsuit alleging that West and Zampella went behind Activisions's back by talking to their closest competitor (supposedly EA) with regards to Call of Duty: Modern Warefare 3. Activision also alleges that they kept post-poning the pre-production work on the game to have more leverage in negotiations with Activision. The two were then fired March 1st. In the 23 page lawsuit filing Activision stated,
Among other things, they delayed pre-production of Modern Warfare 3 and attempted to improperly leverage their rights under the MOU (memorandum of understanding) to obtain further advantage for themselves and concessions from Activision.
As a direct and proximate result of this breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, Activision has been forced to commit additional resources to Modern Warfare 3, institute litigation to seek a declaration of rights, and incur costs and attorneys' fees, and will incur additional expenses in connection with securing the benefits of the MOU.
The counter suit brought forth by West and Zampella tells a different story. It states that West and Zampella were fired as a way to avoid paying royalties to the developers. The Modern Warefare franchise has generated over 1.5 billion in revenue since its November release and the royalties owed to the two ex-Infinity Ward heads is $36 million. There was no mention of exactly how much Activision was suing for but they did state they will hold all royalty payments the two incurred during their "period of disloyalty."
On March 3rd West and Zampella's attorney released this statement,
The allegations Activision made today are false and outrageous. 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 and 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, and not to breach their contract. The conversations with IW employees, talent agents, and others during these negotiations with Activision were conducted to see if Activision's proposal could work, and not in disrespect of their obligations to Activision.
Activision is no stranger to lawsuits. We here at PLuGHiTz Live! Radio have covered many of them before. All of them seem rather crazy but one thing remains the same, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick. I think it would be more beneficial for the two parties to work this out not in an open forum. It is clear that only Infinity Ward can make the Modern Warefare game that all the hardcore and casual fans alike have come to embrace. If Kotick keeps bringing in new developers it could very well end the franchise as we know it. Besides, most people like Infinity Ward much more than Activision, not just because they keep spewing out nonsense Guitar Hero games, but because they have a history of suing partners and developers that do great things for them. Let's not forget that Infinity Ward is owned by Activision so in the end they have a lot more to lose than West and Zampella.