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West, Zampella's Bonuses 'Redistributed' Among Remaining IW Employees

West, Zampella's Bonuses 'Redistributed' Among Remaining IW Employees

April 22, 2010 | By Leigh Alexander

April 22, 2010 | By Leigh Alexander
More: Console/PC

Bonuses lost by fired Infinity Ward co-founders Jason West and Vince Zampella have been "redistributed" among the studio's remaining employees, says a rep speaking on Activision's behalf.

Amid the discussion and speculation surrounding the legal dispute between the publisher and the departed execs, community rep and former game journalist Dan Amrich chose the message board of a Facebook group entitled "Gamers against Bobby Kotick & Activision" to, in his words, attempt to "put some of the more controversial discussions in context, or explain some things that have been misreported."

In the thread, Amrich addresses widespread reports of Infinity Ward employees leaving Activision in the wake of West and Zampella's exit, possibly to join the pair at their newly-founded Respawn Entertainment -- a studio that, while independent, enjoys publisher support from Activision rival Electronic Arts.

"Vince and Jason had very large bonuses; those bonuses are being redistributed to everybody else, to the people who did not allegedly attempt to steal company secrets," writes Amrich, advising members of the group to look at Activision's counter-suit "for details about Vince and Jason's surreptitious attempts to photocopy and scan sensitive documents."

"Activision is not pocketing that bonus money; it's still going to the people who work at IW," Amrich continues. "But you have to work at IW to get it, see?"

In recent days Activision has asserted Infinity Ward is still about 100 staffers strong, citing the studio's "deep bench of talent" under the interim leadership of CTO Steve Pearce and production head Steve Akrich. But numerous industry analysts have warned of risk to the publisher if too many staff departures weaken the studio.

Amrich concedes that the continuing wave of employee departures from Infinity Ward is "not over yet." He writes that "more people will probably go too, looking for new situations. Maybe they will join Respawn, maybe not. I'm confused, because by leaving, they are giving up their bonus -- and the more people that leave, the bigger the bonus gets for the people who stay."

He adds: "I'd think if you are young and hungry and have a vision for a new game, IW would be a really good place to be right now."

Amrich also attempted to field gamer criticism of Activision CEO Bobby Kotick's well-known comments about wanting developers to work in an environment of "skepticism, pessimism and fear," stressing that Kotick was referring to maintaining pragmatism about the economic climate and not to the creative culture of Activision studios.

Nonetheless, Amrich also said that "while I respect him as a businessman, I wish Bobby Kotick would not shoot from the hip so often."

He criticizes the games press who he believes have "willfully misinterpreted" Kotick's often-bombastic comments -- "but at the same time, he has to understand that the whole world is listening, not just the people in the banking community that happen to be in the room when he says stuff."

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