Update: Former Infinity Ward Heads Sue Activision

By Jordan Douglas on March 2, 2010, 5:45AM EDT
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The ugly split between the former heads of Infinity Ward and Activision continues to send shock waves throughout the industry. The latest development is the lawsuit filed today by Jason West and Vince Zampella against Activision. In a statement released by their legal team, O'Melveny & Myers LLP, West and Zampella are suing for compensation from the sales of Modern Warfare 2, and the right to control "Modern Warfare-branded games."

"We were shocked by Activision's decision to terminate our contract," said West in a statement. "We poured our heart and soul into that company, building not only a world class development studio, but assembling a team we've been proud to work with for nearly a decade. We think the work we've done speaks for itself."

According to O'Melveny & Myers,

"Modern Warfare 2 is arguably one of the most successful games in history and together with Call of Duty, has generated more than $3 billion in sales for Activision. In addition, Activision seized control of the Infinity Ward studio, to which Activision had previously granted creative control over all Modern Warfare-branded games. The suit was filed to vindicate the rights of West and Zampella to be paid the compensation they have earned, as well as the contractual rights Activision granted to West and Zampella to control Modern Warfare-branded games."

"Activision has refused to honor 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," said Robert Schwartz, a O'Melveny & Myers attorney in the release. "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."

This ongoing saga has been taken to a new level with this lawsuit, not only are West and Zampella suing for compensation, they are suing for the right to produce new Modern Warfare titles. Imagine the fallout if they win this case, a publisher like Electronic Arts would kill to get their hands on the Modern Warfare IP if it indeed becomes available.

Keep checking back for more information.

Original Story:

Some big changes are taking place at Infinity Ward, the studio behind Modern Warfare. Details are still coming in, but it appears that at least one of the studio heads, Jason West, has been fired by the studio's owner Activision. Apparently Activision filed a human resources investigation into "breaches of contract and insubordination by two senior employees at Infinity Ward," adding that the "matter is expected to involve the departure of key personnel and litigation." It is still unclear as to who the second senior employee is.

Sources close to Infinity Ward are saying that "bouncer-type" security personnel arrived at the studio on Monday and would not reveal to studio employees what they were there for. Apparently Vince Zampella and Jason West, the heads of Infinity Ward, met with Activision early on Monday and were not heard from after that point. The relationship between Activision and Infinity Ward has been described as 'tense'. "Everyone is on edge," said the unnamed source, "we just want to make our games."

Update 1:

It has now been confirmed that the second senior Infinity Ward employee mentioned in the Activision investigation is in fact CEO Vince Zampella. Neither company has commented on what exactly caused the two heads of the studio to be let go, but clearly there will be big changes at Infinity Ward.

Update 2:

Unnamed Sources close to Infinity Ward have revealed that Activision CEO Bobby Kotick will be addressing the entire studio in a matter of minutes. First, he will reportedly meet with the development leads to discuss the events that unfolded yesterday.

Numerous rumors are flying around as to what caused this rift between Infinity Ward and Activision; the most likely being the studios reluctance to allow other development teams to work on the Modern Warfare franchise, or Activision's refusal to pay royalties to the studio for Modern Warfare 2.

We'll keep you updated as more information comes in.

Source: G4TV

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