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Activision Vs. Infinity Ward Round-Up

If you're still reeling from the incredible amount of dirt that got aired this week between Call of Duty developer Infinity Ward and publisher Activision, trust me, you're not alone. It's not often that we witness such a drama-packed story in the game industry, much less one that moves as quickly as these events have. To help you catch up, I've put together this handy round-up of all of our coverage of the insanity from the past week in chronological order.

Monday, March 1

Infinity Ward Vs. Activision -- The story started here with a report from G4TV that studio heads at Infinity Ward had gone missing from the building and employees were freaked out. As the story progressed through the night, we discovered that Jason West and Vince Zampella were fired by Activision, a decision briefly hinted at in an SEC filing that Activision had submitted earlier that day.

Tuesday, March 2

Activision's Future Plans For Call Of Duty -- The day after the drama started, as we were still waiting for answers on what exactly had happened, Activision issued a press release assuring fans that they have big plans for the Call of Duty franchise. In addition to reiterating the common knowledge that a new Call of Duty is planned for release during holiday 2010, the publisher mentioned another COD-branded title coming in 2011 as well as a new take on the franchise from one of their newest studios, Sledgehammer Games. The press release also confirmed that Jason West and Vince Zampella were gone from the company.

Wednesday, March 3

Infinity Ward Ex-Heads Suing Activision -- Late Wednesday night, we finally heard from West and Zampella via a press release announcing that they are suing Activision over the events surrounding their firing.

Thursday, March 4

Activision Seeking Documents Tying Ex-Infinity Ward Heads To EA -- One popular rumor about the reason for the firing was that Activision believed West and Zampella may have been talking to other publishers about doing work for them. A leaked memo on Thursday morning seemed to confirm this, noting that Activision is looking for "documents regarding West and Zampella's communications with Activision's competitors, including but not limited to Electronic Arts." The publisher also released their first official statement on the lawsuit.

My Take On The Infinity Ward Drama -- GI editor-in-chief Andy McNamara wrote this editorial on his feelings about this mess of a situation and how everyone seems to lose from what's going on. Since Andy has actually met West and Zampella, he has a good sense of who they are and where some conflicts with Activision may have started. Recommended reading.

The Game Informer Show Episode 19 -- The whole show isn't devoted to the Activision story, but in the second segment Matt Helgeson, Andy McNamara, Adam Biessener, and I have an in-depth discussion of all the stuff that had gone down as of recording. We've all got our own ideas on what might have happened and why, but we're also all in agreement on one thing: This is a pretty crappy situation for everyone.

The Activision Lawsuit: What It Means And Where It's Going -- I dug through West and Zampella's 16-page court complaint to attempt to get to the heart of the issues behind their lawsuit. The complaint contains some fascinating (and potentially terrifying) accusations about how Activision treated West and Zampella. In addition to presenting some theories of my own on what happened, I talked to Eric Chad, an intellectual property attorney, to clarify some of the more sticky legal concepts underlying this case.

Phew. That's all that has happened thus far -- work your way through these pieces, and you'll be totally caught up. Unfortunately, as Chad informed me when I talked to him, this is likely to be a long, drawn-out case, so it may be many months if not years until we have a full resolution. Game Informer will be watching carefully and giving you all the details as they hit.

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