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MW2 lawsuit reveals Activision's "unbridled greed"

MW2 lawsuit reveals Activision's "unbridled greed"

Infinity Ward founders Jason West and Vince Zampella have accused Activision of unbridled greed.

The lawsuit brought against Activision by ex-employees and Infinity Ward founders Jason West and Vince Zampella has accused the publisher of putting quantity above quality in the pursuit of "unbridled greed" - a factor which led to the royalty problems that culminated in the dismissal of both West and Zampella.

West and Zampella's lawsuit against Activision claims that the pair were unfairly dismissed, cheated out of agreed royalties for Modern Warfare 2 and were not allowed the creative independence their contract promised when it came to running the studio. Activision meanwhile accuse the pair of insubordination and has said the case is "meritless", while outlining new plans for the franchise.

"West and Zampella were not as eager as Activision to jump into the development of Modern Warfare 2," stated a16-page document, reprinted on IGN, that details the working conditions of the studio. "Despite assurances by Activision that West and Zampella would have complete freedom to run Infinity Ward as an independent studio, Activision had begun to intrude upon Infinity Ward's ability to create quality games."

"For example, Activision forced Infinity Ward's employees to continue producing the games at a breakneck pace under aggressive schedules, and West and Zampella were concerned that Activision was emphasising quantity over quality.

"Given Activision's insistence that Infinity Ward continue to focus on sequels to Call of Duty games instead of new intellectual property, West and Zampella were also concerned that Activision's demands risked 'burning out' the Infinity Ward employees' creativity. Nurturing a creative environment had been one of the cornerstones of Infinity Ward's success.

"West and Zampella were not eager to extend their employment; especially as they watched their games receive countless awards and make Activision billions of dollars, while many Infinity Ward employees were not being provided a fair share."

The document also alleges that an investigation began at Activision after the release of Modern Warfare 2, which sought to find reason to fire the pair. West and Zampella both claim to have been "interrogated for over six hours" in a windowless room and that other staff were bought to tears by the questioning.

The pair are seeking $36 million in damages and lost royalties, as well as control over the Modern Warfare title.

Let us know your thoughts in the forums.

41 Comments

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eddtox 8th March 2010, 13:56 Quote
Good for them. I hope they win and I hope they use the money to fund kickass games.
TWeaK 8th March 2010, 13:58 Quote
Ha, I thought the game itself revealed Activision's greed.
Denis_iii 8th March 2010, 14:05 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by eddtox
Good for them. I hope they win and I hope they use the money to fund kickass games.

+1

but only 36million? they should be going for 100million min
Cruelinios 8th March 2010, 14:08 Quote
Bah, this is another good reason of recent for me to not buy another Activision title. Burning out employee's creativity by demanding breakneck deadlines to then make billions of dollars and as a thanks, fire the pair responsible is rediculous.

Well done Activision
kylew 8th March 2010, 14:18 Quote
This is the fourth time today that I've seen "brought" spelt as "bought" and "its" spelt as "it's" (it's = it is).

:(

What's going on?
ssj12 8th March 2010, 14:28 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Denis_iii
Quote:
Originally Posted by eddtox
Good for them. I hope they win and I hope they use the money to fund kickass games.

+1

but only 36million? they should be going for 100million min

i think the 36 million is general pay. They state and royalties, which would probably bring that number up to 100 million or more.
AcidJiles 8th March 2010, 14:28 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Denis_iii
Quote:
Originally Posted by eddtox
Good for them. I hope they win and I hope they use the money to fund kickass games.

+1

but only 36million? they should be going for 100million min

The Modern Warfare name is probably worth 250 million or more.
AshT 8th March 2010, 14:34 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by eddtox
Good for them. I hope they win and I hope they use the money to fund kickass games.

QFT
cjoyce1980 8th March 2010, 14:49 Quote
activision can have the CoD/Modern Warfare name, if the game is made by the guys original behind the game then i wont even think about a purchase.

West and Zampella 1 - 0 Activision
Artanix 8th March 2010, 14:54 Quote
The unfortunately reality of this is that Activision probably saw this coming from the start, and planned for this situation to arise a long time ago. It wouldn't surprise me if they have clauses in all contracts that effectively let them do anything they want with the staff of IW and the CoD IP...
.. Unless Activision are truly that stupid to fire them without thinking of this outcome? They do seems to be packing a fair amount of stupidity these days.
rickysio 8th March 2010, 15:24 Quote
I do hope they win and start another company, and trounce Activision's future titles in sales.
FreQ 8th March 2010, 15:30 Quote
Normally I don't have a big opinion on these cases, but Activision are killing the Guitar Hero brand as well by flooding the market with sequels to make a quick buck.

So I agree with Infinity Ward. Good luck to them
13eightyfour 8th March 2010, 16:08 Quote
The sad thing is apart from us PC gamers nobody cares, ive spoke to loads of people since the story came to light and they didnt have a clue what i was going on about. Console players will buy up games regardless of who makes them, i dont know a single console gamer that understands the difference between the platform they play, the devs or publishers tbh.

I hope activision fail and in a big way, id love to see them lose the MW games, but US lawsuits never seem to go as expected.
chimaera 8th March 2010, 16:08 Quote
Bearing in mind that Call of Duty first came about after Infinity Ward was formed from EA coders not wanting to get locked into the Medal of Honour franchise then I'm not hugely suprised they don't want to get locked into doing Modern Warfare games for the rest of time either :)
Gunsmith 8th March 2010, 16:34 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by titanium angel
The sad thing is apart from us PC gamers nobody cares, ive spoke to loads of people since the story came to light and they didnt have a clue what i was going on about. Console players will buy up games regardless of who makes them, i dont know a single console gamer that understands the difference between the platform they play, the devs or publishers tbh.

yet they have the gaul to call us elitest because we actually care about the gaming industry.
kenco_uk 8th March 2010, 16:41 Quote
I think you'll find they call us a bunch of pirates... :/
Kúsař 8th March 2010, 17:05 Quote
It seems that most of the big publishers went completely crazy - Activision, Ubi, EA...I'm not supporter of "OMG commerce it's bad!" crap but it looks like that when games were recognized as a serious industry all sorts of insensible bussinessmen invaded these publishers and started "ruining" them(games, PC gaming in general...). Developers are "software factories" for them.

I hope that this fight between ex-IW employees and Activision will be an example for all independent developers out there so that they choose publisher more carefuly...
kenco_uk 8th March 2010, 17:09 Quote
Why don't they cut out publishers and only release over Steam? I assume Valve take a cut, but it'd save a load of bellyache.
DirtyH 8th March 2010, 17:21 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by kenco_uk
Why don't they cut out publishers and only release over Steam? I assume Valve take a cut, but it'd save a load of bellyache.

because only big publishers have the money to make big games like MW2.
smc8788 8th March 2010, 17:25 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by kenco_uk
Why don't they cut out publishers and only release over Steam? I assume Valve take a cut, but it'd save a load of bellyache.

Aside from the capital costs, you'd be cutting off a large portion of your market if you only released via digital distribution (i.e. those that are browsing for games in a shop). Publishers also deal with advertising and marketing etc.
Natima 8th March 2010, 17:26 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kúsař
It seems that most of the big publishers went completely crazy - Activision, Ubi, EA...I'm not supporter of "OMG commerce it's bad!" crap but it looks like that when games were recognized as a serious industry all sorts of insensible bussinessmen invaded these publishers and started "ruining" them(games, PC gaming in general...). Developers are "software factories" for them.

I hope that this fight between ex-IW employees and Activision will be an example for all independent developers out there so that they choose publisher more carefuly...

Exactly... This is what happened to the music industry too. Thank god that piracy has started to effect the music industry in a way where the power is being put back into the musicians hands and the consumers hands. I think we've basically reached the 80's of gaming. I wouldn't normally support piracy, simply becuase the devs need to earn a living, and need to fund future games... but every time I log into bit-tech these days there is another story about some horrible injustice to the developers and consumers, perpetrated by some greedy suits who couldn't care less about culture or art (which is what games are! Just like music.)

Edit: Spoken by a musician seeking to have a career in the music industry. I pirate music and software all the time. In fact, if I didn't, I wouldn't be half the musician I am now, and would probably have alot less to give back to the industry, and there are at least thousands of others like me.
kenco_uk 8th March 2010, 17:28 Quote
I guess so. Although a 'done when it's done' attitude, together with clever marketing seems to go far, too.
thehippoz 8th March 2010, 17:47 Quote
it's just like any job where the management has never done the work end of it.. if you put a programmer up into management nothing would get done- look at what happened to duke nukem XD on the flip side.. they have no clue how the product actually gets made

I wouldn't doubt the upper management is nothing more than a bunch of fat old guys who like seeing big paychecks.. it always sucks when the boss is a moron
liratheal 8th March 2010, 18:08 Quote
Never. Going. To. Happen.

They'll be back at EA before that happens.
bogie170 8th March 2010, 18:17 Quote
Good for them. I hope they win and I hope they use the money to fund dedicated servers!
Gunsmith 8th March 2010, 18:17 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by DirtyH
because only big publishers have the money to make big games like MW2.

its only a big game because of the PR/media horse ****, thats where all the money went.
ev1lm1nd666 8th March 2010, 18:22 Quote
I'm both a console and Pc gamer and all the people i spoke to about this would stop buying the cod franchise if the guys who made the games great left. I hope West and Zampella sue the ass off Activision and get awarded the rights to at least the modern warfare franchise, but if not i would love to see them make another modern warfare style game that shits all over Activisions games. Plus, Activision seem to be following EA Games in the "roll out so many new versions of the same game and we'll make billions!" road that i have traded in my guitar hero games and switched to rock band.
brave758 8th March 2010, 18:49 Quote
Good luck guys we're routing for ya
DriftCarl 8th March 2010, 19:20 Quote
i dont care about infinity ward or cod anymore. The failure to address the multiplayer issues in good time at infinity ward has put me right off their products.
DICE appear to be working hard to resolve the BC2 issues, they are more open and honest and giving us useful information. And it seems that EA are even responding by providing dedicated login servers for BC2 this week
brave758 8th March 2010, 19:41 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by smc8788
Aside from the capital costs, you'd be cutting off a large portion of your market if you only released via digital distribution (i.e. those that are browsing for games in a shop). Publishers also deal with advertising and marketing etc.

True but where do you buy games now? The only place I know that sells them is PCworld and going in there makes my skin crawl, Game doesn't, even the supermarkets have stopped around my area in the UK. Its even the same here in Calgary, none in Game and the only ones I've seen in Wal-mart are from yesteryear.

To me it seem that the only place to get them now is steam, stardock etc etc...
smc8788 8th March 2010, 20:16 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by brave758
True but where do you buy games now? The only place I know that sells them is PCworld and going in there makes my skin crawl, Game doesn't, even the supermarkets have stopped around my area in the UK. Its even the same here in Calgary, none in Game and the only ones I've seen in Wal-mart are from yesteryear.

Hmm, there's 3 GAME stores here in Southampton, and last time I looked (admittedly a few months ago) they all stocked PC games. There's also a Gamestation and HMV which stock them as well. The large Tescos 5 mins up the road from me also stocks PC games, although that probably isn't the case with most supermarkets. Regardless, I suspect most people buy their PC games in the same place console gamers buy theirs - online retailers like Amazon and Play, which you would still need a physical production and distribution infrastructure to take advantage of.

The point is you would be cutting off the casual market - some of my friends only game on the PC occasionally and they still think Steam is something that comes out of a kettle.
Lightning98 8th March 2010, 20:46 Quote
Wow, sometimes it amazes me what ba$tards these big time publisher companies actually are. I mean i know they only focus on huge profit margins, but i actually lived in a time where game publishers cared about the buyers and makers of the games... and about producing quality game titles...

So yeah, basically its all the same with everyone. Activision, EA... i even remember blizzard being really "friendly" towards gamers... one upon a time... but that was a long, long time ago.
brave758 8th March 2010, 20:54 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by smc8788
Hmm, there's 3 GAME stores here in Southampton, and last time I looked (admittedly a few months ago) they all stocked PC games. There's also a Gamestation and HMV which stock them as well. The large Tescos 5 mins up the road from me also stocks PC games, although that probably isn't the case with most supermarkets. Regardless, I suspect most people buy their PC games in the same place console gamers buy theirs - online retailers like Amazon and Play, which you would still need a physical production and distribution infrastructure to take advantage of.

The point is you would be cutting off the casual market - some of my friends only game on the PC occasionally and they still think Steam is something that comes out of a kettle.

Oh i'm not arguing with you and it is a very valid point.

It really pisses me off i can't browse for a game, just saying its getting harder and harder to find good game shops now or so it seems. Used to walk into Game and there was playstation section, xbox, then PC. Now PC has gone or its just one shelf with the dregs on. I used to use Morrisons at least it had the top 10 games at great prices now nothing.
erratum1 8th March 2010, 21:11 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by kylew
This is the fourth time today that I've seen "brought" spelt as "bought" and "its" spelt at "it's" (it's = it is).

:(

What's going on?

You typed at instead of as !! See it's easily done, now take the stick out your bum.
vegettoxp 8th March 2010, 22:21 Quote
IW all the way. I hope they Win!
Skiddywinks 8th March 2010, 22:30 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by erratum1
Quote:
Originally Posted by kylew
This is the fourth time today that I've seen "brought" spelt as "bought" and "its" spelt at "it's" (it's = it is).

:(

What's going on?

You typed at instead of as !! See it's easily done, now take the stick out your bum.

Win!
ambrose 9th March 2010, 08:06 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by bogie170
Good for them. I hope they win and I hope they use the money to fund dedicated servers!

they dont need to fund any...... just allow the frikn users to build their own like in the original MW. peer servers where you don't get to pick the server is THE worst idea of the decade. Usually in a trusted servers game the aimbots, wallhacks, maphacks, tubers, martyrs and glitchers will be kicked within 20 seconds. noone has ever been kicked in MW2. No moderators means every second 12yr old will be ruining the game for everyone.
not to mention the massive gap in ping times between the server and everyone else
kylew 9th March 2010, 14:11 Quote
---------
1ad7 10th March 2010, 01:33 Quote
I really hope they are being honest, this could be great unless they are full of ****.
2bdetermine 10th March 2010, 03:20 Quote
How is this a surprised "unbridled greed"? Look at the latest installment of MW2 for PC pricing.
alpha0ne23 10th March 2010, 09:58 Quote
This is what happens when lawyers control a company and $ is the only consideration
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