COD-GATE – West and Zampella go legal over money, power

Thursday, 4 March 2010 06:08 GMT By Patrick Garratt


When you believe you’ve created the most successful entertainment product in history and you’re owed millions of dollars in royalties, you don’t go without a fight, right?

Ex-Infinity Ward heads Jason West and Vince Zampella have sued Activision for unpaid royalties and the “contractual rights” to control “Modern Warfare-branded games”. The full press release is here.

West and Zampella were sensationally fired from the Acti-owned studio this week, with the publisher citing “insubordination” as a reason for ousting the duo.

“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 O’Melveny & Myers LLP attorney Robert Schwartz in a press 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.”

Quite obviously, the two developers aren’t exactly “happy”.

“We were shocked by Activision’s decision to terminate our contract,” said West. “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.”

Zampella added: “After all we have given to Activision, we shouldn’t have to sue to get paid.”

West and Zampella are suing Activision not only for unpaid money, but for control of the Call of Duty brand.

“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,” said the suit.

“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 now confirmed that Sledgehammer is creating a new Call of Duty “action-adventure,” and that another title in the series is due for release in 2011.

Infinity Ward itself is currently working on two Modern Warfare 2 DLC packs.

You can get details of the entire debacle here.