Infinity Ward employees suing Activision for unpaid dues [UPDATE]

Tuesday, 27th April 2010 23:14 GMT By Stephany Nunneley


Update: Activision has issued a response to G4 over the lawsuit:

“Activision believes the action is without merit,” said a company spokesperson. “Activision retains the discretion to determine the amount and the schedule of bonus payments for MW2 and has acted consistent with its rights and the law at all times. We look forward to getting judicial confirmation that our position is right”.

Original: Looks like the ongoing issues between Activision and Infinity Ward are far from over, and involve more than just folks flying the coup for Respawn.

According to documents dug up by G4, which continues to cover
the story it broke
back when Zampella and West left IW, a dozen current and former employees have filed suit against Activision citing breach of contract and unpaid bonuses and royalties.

Filed by a group calling itself the Infinity Ward Employee Group,there are a total of 38 developers’ names on the list.

Allegations in the papers state that Activision violated California labor laws by holding promised payments due from Modern Warfare 2′s success “in an attempt to keep the employees hostage so that Activision could reap the benefit of the completion of Modern Warfare 3.”

The suit claims that $28M in bonuses have been paid so far, but that $54M is still owed.

The Infinity Ward Employee Group’s currently seeking $75-125M million which includes promised bonuses, interest, profit sharing, royalties, and stock options, and interest.

“Activision owes my clients approximately $75 million to $125 million dollars,” the group’s attorney Bruce Isaacs told G4. “Activision has withheld most of the money to force many of my people to stay, some against their will, so that they would finish the delivery of Modern Warfare 3.

“That is not what they wanted to do. Many of them. My clients’ entitled to their money. Activision has no right to withhold their money– our money.”

The group is also seeking an additional $75-$500M in punitive damages.

Current and former employees listed in the suit being handled by Wyman & Issacs, LLP are:

Todd Alderman, Frank Gigliotti, Roger Abrahamsson, Brad Allen, Mohammad Alavi, Richard Baker, Chad Barb, Keith Bell, Chris Cherubini, Taihoon William Cho, Chris Dionne, Joel Emslie, Robert Field, Steve Fuduka, Robert Gaines, Chance Glasco, Preston Glenn, Joel Gompert, Chad Grenier, Mark Grigsby, John Haggerty, Jacob Michael Keating, Chris Lambert, Ryan Lastimosa, Fairfax S. McCandlish IV, Jason McCord, Brent Mcleod, John Paul Messerly, Stephen Miller, Zied Rieke, Jon Shiring, John Slayback, Richard Smith, Geoffery Smith, Jiesang Song, Todd Sue, Rayme C. Vinson and Lei Yang.

This just gets uglier by the day, and comes on the heels of more IW employees defecting to EA and Respawn.

Earlier in the month, Dan Amrich, and ex-game journalist who now blogs for Activision, revealed on Facebook that Zampella and West’s bonuses were being dispersed among INfinity Ward employees.

Apparently not all of it or fast enough, we reckon.

Loads more through all the links.



  1. Cee

    Give it a rest guys. Fly free like a bird and all that shit.

    Start creating games with more innovative ideas… let the “IW” Call Of Duty franchise die. Quit while you’re still ahead.
    You’ll get whats due to you in future… if you actually have some talent.

    I’m sick of this compensation nation approach in life. Some twine toed twat stubs his toe…put in a claim!

    #1 5 years ago
  2. Caleb_LK

    @1 Umm… but yeah they do have talent hence why MW2 was such a success, and so what if they want their money which is rightfully theirs.
    Also Cee its not like they are bitching about stubbing their toe (WTF) Their bonuses have been delayed for months now and for quite a few of these people of they got their bonuses it would easily double their salary.

    On a separate note, im guessing that another 12 people are quitting IW in the not too distant future then ehh umm who’s left then besides Browling?

    #2 5 years ago
  3. DeSpiritusBellum

    They’re gonna get what they’re owed though. There’s no way Activision actually think they’re gonna get around paying them whatever is in their contract.

    Zampella and West obviously have some trust issues to account for, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they ended up with a wad of cash as well.

    Punitive damages is always going to be down to the lawyer. I think Activision would settle if they thought it had the slightest merit.

    @2 68 developers according to the sources I’ve found. I think it’s going to go lower too, but if you do a headcount, there’s still more Modern Warfare 2 developers at Infinity Ward. For now :p

    #3 5 years ago
  4. Cee

    “but yeah they do have talent hence why MW2 was such a success.”

    I didn’t say they had none. MW2 was such a success because the people made it one. They’ve milked the cash cow far too long (Actvision and Infinity Ward) without actually making any real progression.. and tbph, imho, made regression of the franchise.

    The best Call Of Duty(ies) were without a shadow of a doubt COD and CODUO(of which Infinity Ward had nothing to do with)

    Infinity Ward have upset their community on numerous occasions prior to this current debacle.
    So the little statement of (or along the lines of)”We’ll give the community what they want at Respawn Entertainment”… I’ll take with a pinch of salt.

    And to quote you again
    “and so what if they want their money which is rightfully theirs.”

    Does that mean Enrique “Beaner The Cleaner” Rodriguez should jump on the bandwaggon too and file a lawsuit for 2.5 million just because he shined West and Zampella’s tables like no other employee has ever done?

    They are employees of the company….as far as they are concerened they’ve already been paid hence their yearly contract and any profit margins, royalties of the franchise should not be due to any of the employees. Unless they’re all executives of the company (Which I somehow doubt).

    Let’s just say I worked for gamestop as a sales rep. I approach the CEO and ask for a cumbersome amount of the companies profit margin or I’ll sue for damages.

    How successful would I be?

    In other words the emloyees of Infinity Ward are being greedy and that’s an understatement. It could also fuck up West and Zampella’s chances if their claims stand any ground.

    Any chances of Respawn Entertainment being reunited with the COD franchise will stand no ground whatsoever because Activision own it.

    Core Design and Tomb Raider…anyone

    @ DeSpiritusBellum
    “Zampella and West obviously have some trust issues to account for.”

    I definitely think so too. There is some wrong doing on on both sides.

    If West and Zampella get found guilty of witholding said “profits and bonuses” I wonder if the new employees of Respawn Entertainment, would forgive and forget. If they had any morals they’d jump ship.

    #4 5 years ago
  5. Freek

    Those employees made one of the biggest selling games of all time, they are due their bonuses, they more then earned them.
    It’s public knowledge by now that the only reason Activission is not paying them is because they are scared people will no longer want to work for them. Wich is unfair, hence the only logical action is a lawsuite.

    All of this is Activisions own fault by misjudging how creativly invested IW was with the CoD franchise, and should have treated them and the franchise with a bitt more respect.

    #5 5 years ago
  6. The_Deleted

    I’m sorry…what?!

    “Modern Warfare is the biggest gaming IP in history… It’s made us billions of dollars and generates 1000′s of online hours. People love it!!!
    …So let’s stop making them.”

    I’ll…uhh… clear out my office Mr. Kotick..”

    #6 5 years ago
  7. Blerk

    I notice that Activision don’t actually deny the claim, just say that they haven’t done anything illegal. Seems they’re determined to destroy Infinity Ward completely for some reason. :-|

    #7 5 years ago
  8. endgame

    gd to hear this news. w/e bad things happend to Acti and/or that shitbag that is Bobby Kotick is good news. :) sad to hear that IW employees r suffering though. they have made some fine games for us in the past and I hope they will continue doing so in the future. anyway, I hope they win this asap.

    #8 5 years ago
  9. NGCes26294BIV

    “Activision retains the discretion to determine the amount and the schedule of bonus payments for MW2″

    This is all you need to read to know how appalling Activision are being. Absolutely disgusting.

    #9 5 years ago
  10. NGCes26294BIV

    Incidentally, if $28m has already been paid to IW employees, and there are only a hundred of them, that’s $280,000 per employee, on average.

    Another $54m would be over $500,000 each on top of that.

    Holy f*ck. I can see why they feel held to ransom.

    #10 5 years ago
  11. Gheritt White

    Activision tend to fare badly in the courtroom, if the Ultimate DJ and Brutal legend lawsuits are anything to go by. Bonuses should be paid out as lump sums unless specifically requested otherwise by employees – any other system is just allowing the employer to make money off the interest the bonus cash is earning for them whilst sat in the bank.

    At the end of the day, this dispute isn’t about Activion’s behaviour, or even their money – it’s about the IW employees money that Activison is withholding.

    #11 5 years ago
  12. Bulk Slash

    It’s funny how a week or so ago Activision gave Zampella and West’s bonuses to everyone at IW, and yet they’re still not willing to hand over the rest of the cash their employees are owed.

    I would imagine this lawsuit will be what triggers the rest of the staff to leave for Respawn when Activision refuse to pay up.

    #12 5 years ago
  13. DeSpiritusBellum

    @6 Heh, actually you’ve got it all backwards. If the rumors are anything to go by, Zampella and West were the ones who wanted out of making an endless stream of Call of Dutys, whereas Activision wanted them to keep going. Hence the two going rogue and getting the boot.

    That still makes Activision look like conservative twats, though.

    #13 5 years ago
  14. The_Deleted

    Sorry I was referring to Cee, who said they should give up on a multi billion dollar IP.

    #14 5 years ago

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