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West and Zampella add charges of fraud to suit against Activision

Saturday, 2nd April 2011 14:36 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

According to new court documents unearthed by Gamespot, former Infinity Ward heads Jason West and Vince Zampella have added two counts of fraud to their original $36 million complaint against Activision over unpaid bonuses relating to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.

The addition of the fraud claims are on top of what the duo already filed against the firm back in March 2010, and the amended complaint states that back in March 2008, Activision entered into “a Memorandum of Understanding” with West and Zampella. The memorandum was formed in order to secure the pair’s employment in order to close the merger with Vivendi.

This contract also address a concern held by West and Zampella over the creative authority of the Modern Warfare series as well as the “creation of a look, feel, and brand for the Modern Warfare games.” In addition, the MOU also detailed the bonus plan tied to “operating income generated by a set of eligible games, including Modern Warfare 2,” reads Gamestop’s assessment of the amended complaint.

Activision supposedly signed the contract due to the importance of closing the Vivendi deal: “To protect its interest in consummating its merger with Vivendi Games, Activision needed to do everything it could to keep West and Zampella content with their responsibilities and compensation at Infinity Ward. This gave West and Zampella considerable bargaining power in their negotiations with Activision,” the complaint states.

The addition to the original complaint states that West and Zampella were “skeptical” of the MOU because they claim Activision had been hesitant to provide control and independence to its development studios and subsequent properties in the past .

Negotiations between the firm and Infinity Ward supposedly secured its right to final say over any MW-branded title in the future or any subsequent licensing. A stipulation was added to the MOU by Activision that any creative control handed to the duo or any monetary incentives were subject to West and Zampella’s continued employment with the firm.

Despite continued apprehension on the duo’s part over the possibility of being fired by the firm to “circumvent the MOU’s clause,” the two claim Activision CEO Bobby Kotick reassured them by stating: “Don’t worry about it. It’s impossible for you guys to get fired.”

Due to this reassurance, the duo claim they signed the MOU without added clarification, committing themselves to three more years of employment at Activision. With this, they continued work under the premise that Infinity Ward would continue to operate as an independent studio along the line of Blizzard.

The amended complaint adds that West and Zampella are convinced Activision was never planning to honor the MOU to being with, especially the clauses related to creative authority and bonus payment.

“While paying lip-service to West’s and Zampella’s creative authority, in 2008 and thereafter, Activision began secret development of Modern Warfare and Call of Duty games and related products, and undertook other conduct in relation to these two videogame franchises that, under the MOU, required prior approval from West and Zampella,” reads the amended text.

“Activision did not inform West or Zampella of such plans or seek their input or approval for them. Indeed, while breaching the creative authority provisions of the MOU, Activision continued to pay lip-service to them, in an attempt to mask its secret development efforts.”

One of the lawyers in the firm representing West and Zampella told Gamespot that the men are also asking the courts to void the MOU, and if granted, this would make the two co-owners of the Modern Warfare brand with Activision. If allowed, this would not only grant West and Zampella the right to release their own copies of the series, but the rescission of the contract would also them to create new games in the Modern Warfare franchise.

Earlier this month, a California Superior Court judge concluded that Activision had shown sufficient evidence to go forward with its $400 million suit against the ex-Infinity Ward founders along with EA.

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6 Comments

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  1. DSB

    Dirty dirty dirty.

    Imagine if Zampella and West end up with the Modern Warfare rights? Ricitiello might actually have his CoD killer…. And it would be CoD!

    MOU’s are tricky, but this is going to be the trial of the gaming century if it actually goes forward.

    You should be looking at the broadcasting rights right now, PatGar.

    #1 3 years ago
  2. G1GAHURTZ

    While I don’t like Acti, and would like to see West and Zampella win every single claim in this case, I think it’d be a shame of EPIC PROPORTIONS if EA finally managed to beat CoD by getting the brand.

    EA have behaved and continue to behave so desperately in their attempts to beat CoD that they don’t deserve it.

    #2 3 years ago
  3. Erthazus

    This shit will always continue in the multiplatform world. If someone creates a 20 million seller (GTA, COD), there always will be douchebags who want MOAR MONEY!

    But history repeats itself, in 99% they can dream about it.

    #3 3 years ago
  4. DSB

    Yeah, I think the only thing that’s truly obvious about this case at this point, is that when you sell 20 million copies of a videogame someone, somewhere is going to get fucked.

    #4 3 years ago
  5. Zurtech

    Why is it whenever I hear about Activision I think of Bobby Kotick… who then in turn makes me think of Cyril Sneer from the Raccoons?

    #5 3 years ago
  6. neon6

    How long will this last?

    #6 3 years ago