Activision Blizzard filed a countersuit Friday morning against ex-Infinity Ward heads Jason West and Vince Zampella, painting a picture of two insubordinate employees out to harm parent Activision and its shareholders.
In Activision's lawsuit, reported by the L.A. Times, West and Zampella "morphed from valued, responsible executives into insubordinate and self-serving schemers who attempted to hijack Activision's assets for their own personal gain."
Activision fired the pair for alleged insubordination in early March, just a few months after the November launch of Infinity Ward's video game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, which has generated over $1.5 billion globally. The pair sued Activision, Infinity Ward's parent company, for $36 million over the firing.
Activision's countersuit added, "West and Zampella's misdeeds formed an unlawful pattern and practice of conduct that was designed to steal the [Infinity West] studio, which is one of Activision's most valuable assets -- at the expense of Activision and its shareholders and for their own personal financial gain."
Activision also accused the pair of going "on a secret trip by private jet to Northern California, arranged by their Hollywood agent, to meet with the most senior executives of Activision's closest competitor." Electronic Arts' headquarters is located in the Northern California city of Redwood Shores, but the suit did not call EA out by name.
Activision did not name a dollar amount for which it is countersuing, but the publisher said in the suit that it has the right to withhold future payments to West and Zampella to make up for a "period of [the pair's] disloyalty" and that the publisher is entitled to compensatory damages. The suit also claimed the two tried to delay development of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. The newly-formed Activision studio Sledgehammer is now making a Call of Duty game for 2011.
EA director of corporate communications Jeff Brown would not confirm whether the pair spoke to EA. "We don't have the time to comment on the many lawsuits Activision files against its employees and creative partners," he said.