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Infinity Ward Ex-Heads Suing Activision

by Phil Kollar on Mar 03, 2010 at 05:55 PM

It seems that the drama surrounding Infinity Ward from earlier in the week is not over at all. Infinity Ward's ex-president Jason West and ex-CEO Vince Zampella, who were confirmed by Activision to have "left the company," are now filing a lawsuit against their former employer for "breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, wrong termination in violation of public policy, and declaratory relief."

Details of the lawsuit posted on PR Newswire indicate that West and Zampella's contracts were terminated apparently just weeks before they were to receive a huge royalty payment from Activision, presumably for the stellar sales of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Their attorney, Robert Schwartz, provided this info:

"Activision has refused to honor the terms of its agreements and is intentionally flouting the fundamental public policy of this State (California) that employers must pay their employees what they have rightfully earned. Instead of thanking, lauding, or just plain paying Jason and Vince for giving Activision the most successful entertainment product ever offered to the public, last month Activision hired lawyers to conduct a pretextual 'investigation' into unstated and unsubstantiated charges of 'insubordination' and 'breach of fiduciary duty,' which then became the grounds for their termination on Monday, March 1st."

In other words, West and Zampella seem to be alleging that those accusations of "breaches of contract and insubordination" that popped up in an SEC filing Monday were made up by Activision as an excuse to fire the duo and avoid paying them royalties. It's easy to imagine there was more than just financial reasons behind Activision's decision, but this paints an incredibly shady picture of Activision if true.

Jason West provided his own statement on the events: "We were shocked by Activision's decision to terminate our contract. We poured our heart and soul into that company, building not only a world class development studio, but assembling a team we've been proud to work with for nearly a decade. We think the work we've done speaks for itself."

Grab some popcorn and get prepared for a bumpy ride, everyone. It's going to be interesting watching where this lawsuit goes. Also remember that Activision's SEC filing mentioned that they expected this decision to "involve...litigation." Does that mean they plan to sue West and Zampella as well, or were they expecting to be sued from the start?