Activision-Infinity Ward founders trial date set for May 2012

One of the biggest legal battles in the the game industry now has a specific trial date. Forbes reports that May 7, 2012 is when the trial begins that will pit game publisher Activision Blizzard against Jason West and Vincent Zampella, the co-founders of Infinity Ward which created the best selling Call of Duty franchise. For his part Zampella said, “I’m really looking forward to having our day in court."

In March 2010, Activision Blizzard fired West and Zampella, just months after the developer completed work on Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2. The game went on to sell well over 22 million copies. West and Zampella filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard a few weeks later, claiming the publisher got rid of the duo in order to avoid paying them the massive amount of royalties they would receive from sales of the game. Activision Blizzard later counter-sued, claiming that West and Zampella were conspiring to depart the company with a new publishing deal with Electronic Arts.

Since the firings of West and Zampella, a large number of Infinity Ward's team members also left the developer. They got together again with West and Zampella to form a new team, Respawn Entertainment, and struck a publishing deal with EA to publish its first game. Unlike their deal with Activision, the Respawn Entertainment team will retain ownership of the games they create. However, it may be a while before we get any info about what the new team is working on. West said, "We have new and exciting creativity and development going on at Respawn, to be announced in the future." Meanwhile Infinity Ward, along with Sledgehammer Games, are finishing work on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 which Activision will release on November 8.

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3 Comments

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"...laiming the publisher got rid of the duo in order to avoid paying them the massive amount of royalties they would receive from sales of the game."

This is illegal.

"...claiming that West and Zampella were conspiring to depart the company with a new publishing deal with Electronic Arts."

This is not.

Good luck with that counterclaim, Activision, you thieving scumbags.

excalpius said,

"...claiming that West and Zampella were conspiring to depart the company with a new publishing deal with Electronic Arts."

This is not.

Good luck with that counterclaim, Activision, you thieving scumbags.

im sure they signed contracts with activision that most likely would include restrictive convenants to prevent the above, thus if proven to be true, activision would be well within their rights to fire the duo.

Terry_X said,

im sure they signed contracts with activision that most likely would include restrictive convenants to prevent the above, thus if proven to be true, activision would be well within their rights to fire the duo.

Possibly. But such non-compete clauses however are RARELY enforceable in court.

By and large, people have a right to work in their chosen profession. Companies put these in these contracts for the same reasons that companies try and get people to sign waivers, etc. - namely, to cause the gullible to ignore legal action because they don't know any better.

In the latter case, you can never waive your right to legal action or compensation due to negligence, malfeasance, etc.

In the former, only the most detailed and narrow of non-compete clauses can be held up in court, as people always have a right to pursue work in their chosen profession and one can never sign that away without proper legal consent making it clear exactly what the restrictions are.

If, for example, Activision was already in breach of their contract in not paying these men due compensation, then these men clearly had to seek other gainful employment.

I have seen this scenario many times now and I have NEVER seen the "activision" in this case prevail. If they deliberately ripped these men off, through inaction, deception, or worse, then there were well within their rights to look at their alternatives. And everyone has the right to meet with others and check out their options, etc.

However, this is all speculation on all of our parts. Time will tell.