Former Infinity Ward bossmen Jason West and Vincent Zampella have an official court date of May 7, 2012 to settle their dispute with Activision. West and Zampella seek $125 million in unpaid royalties from Modern Warfare 2 sales and wish to reclaim their contractual rights to the Modern Warfare brand.
Vince Zampella and Grant Collier started up Infinity Ward. Activision helped start up the company up and bought up 30% of it. Infinity Ward’s first game was in 2003, Call of Duty and with the success of that Activision bought Infinity Ward in its entirety placed all the staff on long term contracts.
Infinity Ward later went on to make Call of Duty 2, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 for Activision. The partnership wasn’t always a happy one, with a fair bit of friction being reported, as they often had very different ideas about the way the Call of Duty Series should be heading. Things got really nasty on March 1, 2010, Infinity Ward studio heads Jason West and Vince Zampella were fired by Activision for apparent insubordination.
West and Zampella filed a $36 million lawsuit against Activision alleging that they were terminated to avoid making royalty payments on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. West and Zampella also accused Activision of making false promises, including complete freedom in running the Infinity Ward, when they were reluctant to renew their contracts way back in 2008. Should they be successful, Activision will loose all rights to use the Call of Duty name in future games.
Activision counter claimed alleging that the two developers had hired agents and secretly met and negotiated with EA executives while still working at Activision in 2009. Activision stated that EA, allegedly flew West and Zampella on a private jet from Southern California to San Francisco to attend a barbecue at CEO John Riccietello’s house, in August 2009.
Activision also said that EA had planned to finance and co-own a new studio run by West and Zampella and other employees from the Infinity Ward studio. Eventually, West and Zampella formed Respawn Entertainment, which agreed to produce games for EA. We are eagerly awaiting their first game rumoured for release in 2013.
Activision have made EA party to the claim. EA requested to be dismissed from the claim but a judge ruled in December 2010 that they should be included as a party in the claim, as Activision had provided sufficient evidence that there was a possible involvement. Activision are claiming $400,000.00 from EA for damages regarding the alleged contract interference claims.
Given the length of time this has been going on to date and the fact that they are nowhere near conclusion, it may be that all parties agree to out of court settlement. Otherwise this matter could go on until 2088 at this rate!