Update: IGN has just posted the full 23-page complaint here. We’ve pulled more information out, and posted it below.
Original: Activision has filed a cross-complaint against Infinity Ward founders Jason West and Vince Zampella, claiming it was “forced to sever the relationship” with the duo.
According to a statement given to IGN, the company had attempted to “convince West and Zampella” to conduct themselves as was dictated by their contracts, however, these attempts “failed” and the two were let go.
“Activision’s cross-complaint filed today against Jason West and Vince Zampella makes clear that the company did not arrive at its decision to fire them lightly or without good reason,” said an Activision rep.
“It further shows Activision was forced to sever the relationship when it became apparent that long-standing attempts failed to convince West and Zampella to conform their conduct to what was required of them by their contracts, company policies and as fiduciaries.”
The countersuit against the former executives, claims they had tried to “hijack” the company’s assets and threatened the future of the “Call of Duty franchise.
According the papers filed with the courts, West and Zampella signed contracts -good through 2011 – that forbade them to hire any Infinity Ward employees for three years if they ever chose to leave Activision.
It also claims the two were “insubordinate and self-serving schemers” who negotiated with competitors while under contract with Activision, and tried to prevent the company from compensating Infinity Ward employees so that they were “easier to poach” once the two left the company.
This was done by West and Zampella taking an “inordinately large share of the bonus pool” from the Modern Warfare games, up to one-third of the total bonus set aside for Infinity Ward employees, and demanded even more for MW2, claims Activision.
It also claims that this is something it plans to rectify should it prevail in the countersuit against West and Zampella, as it is seeking monetary damages, along with the return of the bonuses handed to the men.
“When Activision prevails in this matter, it intends to reallocate any share of the Modern Warfare 2 bonus pool that might otherwise have been payable to West and Zampella to those employees responsible for the success of the game who remain employees of the company subsequent to the resolution of the matter,” read the court documents.
Activision also claims that the duo became increasingly unmanageable when it came to discussing terms of the Call of Duty business plan, and threatened on numerous occasions to halt development of Modern Warfare 2, going so far as to threaten to leave and start their own company.
The way Activision found this out, was when word reached it that West and Zampells had discussed signing on with an agent who could “secretly contact the CEO and other senior executives of Activision’s largest competitor.”
Here is a sample email quoted by Activision in the filing:
“Dunno how to scan secretly 13 [sic]. . . . [IW Employee’s] computer down. . . . [IW Employee] did it for me last time. .. .Really. No paranoia about it being in [IW employee] user folder? Her comp down anyway now. . . She had a secret area it scanned into. . . . Probably better to just photocopy and fedex. .. .Can scan or photo – your call. . . . Boom boom pow. Away.”
Robert Schwartz, a lawyer for West and Zampella, has yet to formally comment on the matter.
Activision fired the co-founders last month, and according to an ex-Infinity Ward employee, EA put out a “million dollar bounty” on them in order to lure them into the company.
It was also revealed earlier this week that lead software engineer Francesco Gigliotti and lead designer Todd Alderman has also left Activision and Infinity Ward.
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