The ongoing troubles between Activision and its internal development studio Infinity Ward has reached new heights, after several dozen former and current Infinity Ward employees made the decision to file suit against Activision, claiming that they are owed between $75 million and $125 million in unpaid royalties and bonuses.
The suit is being collectively filed by the "Infinity Ward Employee Group," comprising 38 developers from the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 studio. The development comes a month after former Infinity Ward heads Jason West and Vince Zampella were fired by Activision and filed their own $36 million suit against the Santa Monica-based publisher.
West and Zampella have since formed Respawn Entertainment, signing the development studio’s first title to Activision’s chief rival, Electronic Arts. As reported by Kotaku, the number of staff that has left Infinity Ward now stands at 26, with at least two more joining Respawn Entertainment.
According to documents obtained by G4 blog The Feed, IWEG it attempting "to recover between $75 million and $125 million, if not more," for the following:
- Unpaid bonuses from 2009 and 2010 sales generated by Modern Warfare 2 -- fourth quarter 2009 and first quarter 2010, specifically.
- Bonuses "due and owing to them" past first quarter 2010.
- "Bonus/royalty/profit participation" related to "technology/engine" royalties, "other special performance bonuses," "other studio bonuses" or "any other bonus/royalty/profit participation."'
- Lost value on "restricted stock units" that Activision "promised" would vest (read: own it in your own name and purchase it from Activision) when Modern Warfare 2 sales eclipsed Modern Warfare 1, which "has long ago occurred."
- Money owed as it relates to Modern Warfare 2 "sister games, including but not limited to" the oft-mentioned Modern Warfare 3, "if Modern Warfare 3 is ultimately delivered and marketed."
- Interest rates related to the above sums of money.
"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," attorney Bruce Isaacs told G4. "That is not what they wanted to do.
In an official response, Activision said it "retains the discretion to determine the amount and the schedule of bonus payments for MW2" and believes the suit to be "without merit."