Infinity Ward founders fired, sue Activision, war of words commences

A battle between the founders of Call of Duty developer Infinity Ward, and publisher Activision, which started earlier this week has continued to intensify with the pair filing a lawsuit against Activision.

The spat first broke earlier this week, with reports from G4 of a "bunch of bouncer-types" showing up at the Infinity Ward offices without notice before company founders, Vince Zampella and Jason West, met with Activision bosses. It was later reported that indeed, both men had been sacked by Activision amongst accusations of insubordination.

The two former Infinity Ward founders responded to the accusations of breach of contract and insubordination with a lawsuit, which alleges that despite the pair being granted contractual rights to control the Modern Warfare franchise, Activision "seized control of the Infinity Ward studio".

According to Kotaku, the $36 million lawsuit contends that rather than pay the royalty cheque due to the developers for the very successful Modern Warfare 2, Activision decided to "launch a pre-textual investigation… to create a basis to fire the two co-heads of Infinity Ward before the first Modern Warfare 2 royalty payment would be paid..."

The lawsuit continues, "From the very beginning, it was clear that the purpose of the investigation was not to uncover any facts concerning any actual wrongdoing, but to manufacture a basis to fire West and Zampella."

In what the pair claim as an investigation conducted "in Orwellian fashion" the two were told that they "already have a clear understanding of what they have or have not done," and that "anything less than their full cooperation with the inquisition would constitute insubordination."

"Activision conducted the investigation in a manner designed to maximize the inconvenience and anxiety it would cause West and Zampella," it is alleged in the suit, which also says that the pair were "interrogated for over six hours in a windowless conference room."

The suit adds that other employees of Infinity Ward  were "brought…to tears" by Activision's investigators.

Speaking about the suit, the pair's attorney Robert Schwartz, said, "Activision has refused to honour the terms of its agreements and is intentionally flouting the fundamental public policy of this State (California) that employers must pay their employees what they have rightfully earned.

"Instead of thanking, lauding, or just plain paying Jason and Vince for giving Activision the most successful entertainment product ever offered to the public, last month Activision hired lawyers to conduct a pretextual 'investigation' into unstated and unsubstantiated charges of 'insubordination' and 'breach of fiduciary duty,' which then became the grounds for their termination on Monday, March 1st."

In a statement to Kotaku today, Activision said that they are "disappointed that Mr. Zampella and Mr. West have chosen to file a lawsuit, and believes their claims are meritless."

Speaking about the situation, Zampella said, "After all we have given to Activision, we shouldn't have to sue to get paid."

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DClark said,
Something is going wrong with the web site...
Well, sad to say it, but that's what you get for "trusting" a business.

panicswitched said,
id sue as well if i got fired right before being paid after the company made millions of dollars
And you too might loose your wife. ;)

And the demise of CoD commences. The last CoD to come out this year will be the last "quality" release. I have yet to see a title resume success whether with a different publisher or production team. Have any of you?

MistaT40 said,
And the demise of CoD commences. The last CoD to come out this year will be the last "quality" release. I have yet to see a title resume success whether with a different publisher or production team. Have any of you?

The last "quality" release was the original MW

Frylock86 said,

The last "quality" release was the original MW

Even that was questionable, the multiplayer was an awful spam fest.

Pc_Madness said,

Even that was questionable, the multiplayer was an awful spam fest.

I agree, CoD sucks! ;)

Pc_Madness said,

Even that was questionable, the multiplayer was an awful spam fest.


But at least I had my dedicated servers and better PC gameplay!

Frylock86 said,

The last "quality" release was the original MW

No, the last quality one was CoD2, CoD4 was developed for the consoles and had a lot of half assed features ported from the consoles (ie: ranks, achievements)

Wow. Way to go Activision, MW was the best selling CoD game and they go and do this - great job.

I hope Infinity Ward are innocent and proven so.

Haegr said,
Wow. Way to go Activision, MW was the best selling CoD game and they go and do this - great job.

I hope Infinity Ward are innocent and proven so.

Agreed, job well done. :p

Yeah so they can make another dediciated serverless COD game with more hackers in a barrel and earn even more from those poor souls that bought it only to get wasted by headshots :P

All I want to know is whos responsible for IWNET - then fire them!!

(pure speculation).......I think ACTIVISION - enabling them to turn it off when MW3 is made, forcing the sale - I base this on how many people are still playing MW1 on the PC (giving activision nothing) along with EA's recent moves, nothing short of ba**erds!

Good maybe this will at least delay if not give them enough time to reconsider the entire point of the modern comedy franchise they've turned it into. If it means end of franchise would be good too really.

If Activision were a country, they would be brought before the ICJ on charges of torture.

There is only one solution for us: stop buying Activision. On top of that, I think Infinity Ward should expand the lawsuit and attempt to take Activision for everything they have.

Bemani Dog said,
If Activision were a country, they would be brought before the ICJ on charges of torture.

There is only one solution for us: stop buying Activision. On top of that, I think Infinity Ward should expand the lawsuit and attempt to take Activision for everything they have.

Stop buying Activision, piracy is a lot cheaper!

:-P

I love how everyone hears one side of the story and immediately knows who should win..

Not saying Activision was right, but saying we don't Know what Activision knows/thinks they were doing.. And asking the guys who just got fires/are suing, not exactly the most reliable source for accurate information about the whole thing.

I agree with the people bashing Activision here. I enjoy CoD for what it is, and what it comes down to is Infinity Ward making a great game, but being unfortunately associated with a crap company. If Infinity Ward and break off entirely, think of what they could accomplish to the world of gaming.

I hope the truth comes out and the guilty party not only get's legal consequences but the gaming community punished whoever at fault.

I don't know about any of you, but I'm 38 and I remember the Atari 2600/Commodore 64 days when Activision was a somewhat small, good little company (or so it seemed) making some cute/fun games, like River Raid, Pitfall!, etc. But, I think they have, like EA, gone from those early days to be too big of a company (and unfocused) for their own good. And yes, I think they are greedy. They also could do a much better job of putting out patches and bug fixes for games as well (for the PC versions).

If the cofounders are telling the truth, then this is sad and I hope they mop up the floor with Activision.

Hate to sound selfish here but that just kills all future patches for the game. I assume now the hacks are going to get widespread without any potential fixes. Ah well that's the last CoD game I buy that's for sure.

Game developers need to get together and form some sort of union to protect themselves, and to make corporations understand that they are the main creative forces behind games.

I don't think the world's most successful and famous film directors and writers get interrogated treated like this.

EVANK said,
After all the hard work with CODMW2 Activition throw them them to the lions.

While the game is great on consoles, for a game that started as a PC game, they sure didnt show us any love at all. Altho it is a great game, It made well over $1billion in sales, paying out a couple million is nothing, Im sure theres more to it then just the money, maybe the heads of activision and IW disagreed on MW2, maybe IW wanted to put in dedicated servers or vice versa, (meh, I can dream cant I?)

Edited by pjw, Mar 6 2010, 5:50pm :

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