Lawsuits, new companies, defecting employees… none of this should have happened between Activision and Infinity Ward after putting out one of the most successful games of all time. They should have been throwing overindulgent LA parties where they rent out expensive night clubs, hire expensive DJ’s, invite Hollywood big shots, and hire more expensive DJ’s daily. Instead, the publisher and developer had, to be sure, the game industry’s falling out of the century (so far). Naturally, both sides blame each other, with one side suing the other for a beefy $500 million. From the lawsuit, which was filed a few days ago yesterday (and interestingly dropped from half a billion down to $216 million), we now have the ex-Infinity Ward devs’ side of the story.
According to roughly 40 former employees of the Los Angeles-based developer, it all started in March, when Activision allegedly paid out only 40% of their due bonus money, holding the rest hostage in exchange for Modern Warfare 3 to be ready and published by November of 2011. In addition, the developers were subjected to secret “interrogations” by the publisher, and were instructed to tell no one of them. Said chats were supposedly used to create grounds for firing lead members Jason West and Vincent Zampella.
The lawsuit shows little effect from discussions with Activision higher-ups as well. A meeting with CEO Bobby Kotick in their studio got them a promise of a fully-paid bonus by month’s end— a promise that did not come to fruition. A later meeting with CFO Thomas Tippl got them a response of “Get over it.”
The ex-Infinity Ward suit describes Activision as creating a “police state-like atmosphere,” which falls in line with West and Zampella’s own lawsuit for $36 million in unpaid royalties, which describes the company as “Orwellian.”
There will be a hearing on August 5 to see if the two lawsuits should be consolidated into one trial. No word from the Activision camp in response to these allegations as of now, but as we all expected, it’s only going to get ugly from here.
All those expensive DJ’s… they really blew it.