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Activision awards $42M to former Infinity Ward staff, though trial will commence
Activision awards $42M to former Infinity Ward staff, though trial will commence
May 14, 2012 | By Frank Cifaldi

May 14, 2012 | By Frank Cifaldi
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    14 comments
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing



Game publisher Activision cut a check for $42 million dollars to the lawyers representing a group of former Infinity Ward employees, a source close to the matter has confirmed to Gamasutra.

This sum comes on top of the $22 million already paid to the group as part of the launch bonus for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. According to our source, the sum was determined as part of a review of the available evidence leading up to the trial, which is set to take place May 29. It is not, we're told, a settlement to West nor Zampella, or an admission of guilt.

While they are the catalyst for the case against Activision, the payment does not go to West and Zampella, but to the 40 former employees of Infinity Ward who filed suit against Activision.

West and Zampella are seeking damages on allegations of fraud, saying that Activision fired the duo to avoid paying substantial royalties to them, as well as others at developer Infinity Ward, following the success of Modern Warfare 2.

The group still plans to go to trial against Activision, calling the sum "only a small portion" of what it is seeking in litigation.

Activision recently hired former assistant U.S. attorney Beth Wilkinson to beef up its defense.

[UPDATE: We've corrected the article to make clear that the award goes to former Infinity Ward staff, not to West and Zampella. Apologies for the confusion.]


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Comments


E McNeill
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Just curious: what kind of bonus terms could lead Activision to owe these guys over a million dollars each?

Michael Wenk
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They probably had a bonus tied to # of units sold, possibly metacritic score, or making a particular date. COD is huge, not surprised to see high numbers.

Andrew Chen
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And even if it was all of the above, the product cleared whatever benchmark Activision might have wanted to throw at it, and then some.
But wow over $60 million to date, Curious to know what their full entitlement should be...

Terry Matthes
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You guys deserve it. Nice to see them coming out on top in the end.

Jonathan Murphy
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For all those people who said they'll never see a penny. Eat it. They were in the right. Activision was in the wrong. I hope they can make their game now?

Daniel Martinez
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Gotta give credit where credit is due.

John Woznack
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Now that Activision has "lost" some $64 million over this whole Infinity Ward "fiasco" (and stands to lose even more), will the Board of Directors at Activision now hold Bobby responsible? I wonder.

Joe Wreschnig
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Given that the game has generated more than 20 times that in revenue, what would the Board of Directors hold him responsible for? "Being an incredibly profitable jerk" probably isn't something they can kick him out because of...

Jeffrey Crenshaw
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Hopefully this and the trial will set a precedent that bonus payments are legally binding aspects of the contract just like any other aspect of the contract. The ability to lay off staff after a game performs well and then not have to pay bonuses for _past_ performance because said staff is no longer employed is a temptation the game industry has shown it has no strength to resist.

The indie movement, kickstarter, and this article... a lot of positive narratives surrounding the talent that actually makes games for society to enjoy. We might be coming out of our dark ages.

Michael Rooney
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I thought they were laid off after they should have received their bonuses?

Jeffrey Crenshaw
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I didn't know that, that's even worse :(

Cameron Christian
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$64 million is pennies for Activision's Billion Dollar IP.

Terry Matthes
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It's better than nothing and they are going for more if you read the article....

"The group still plans to go to trial against Activision, calling the sum "only a small portion" of what it is seeking in litigation."

Robb Lewis
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I don't know the details but it appears the court felt there was enough info to prove Activision owed Infinity Ward for the game. When you have great talent like West and Zampella they are going to be pretty headstrong. They disagreed with the strategy and were vocal about it. Bobby probably just wasn't going to take that from some "developers".


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