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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