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Ex-Infinity Ward Heads Add Fraud Charges to Activision Lawsuit

Ex-Infinity Ward Heads Add Fraud Charges to Activision Lawsuit

April 4, 2011 | By Mike Rose




Ex-Infinity Ward heads Jason West and Vince Zampella have added two counts of fraud to their original lawsuit against former employer Activision, as the pair tries to regain control of the Modern Warfare series, according to a report on GameSpot.

The amended suit adds that West and Zampella -- who since their firings formed Respawn Entertainment -- believe Activision never intended to honor its contract with the pair in terms of creative authority and payment bonuses.

The duo filed a $36 million lawsuit against Activision last year citing breach of contract, after they were removed as heads of the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare series. Activision later countersued, branding the pair "self-serving schemers." Activision is countersuing West, Zampella and their new partner Electronic Arts for $400 million.

The amended complaint says that in March 2008, West and Zampella secured their employment with Infinity Ward through a Memorandum of Understanding contract with Activision.

The amendment noted that this contract was put in place to "address issues of significant concern to West and Zampella, particularly in the area of creative authority over the Modern Warfare games and the creation of a look, feel, and brand for the Modern Warfare games."

The complaint continued, "To protect its interest in consummating its merger with Vivendi Games, Activision needed to do everything it could to keep West and Zampella content with their responsibilities and compensation at Infinity Ward. This gave West and Zampella considerable bargaining power in their negotiations with Activision."

The Memorandum of Understanding contract added a stipulation, however, that stated that all this was subject to their continued employment with the company. Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick allegedly said to the pair, "Don’t worry about it. It’s impossible for you guys to get fired."

West and Zampella claim that they felt assured of their continued employment, and hence did not ask for a more secure contract. The amended complaint now states that they believe Activision had no intention of honoring the contract.

The complaint reads, "While paying lip-service to West’s and Zampella’s creative authority, in 2008 and thereafter, Activision began secret development of Modern Warfare and Call of Duty games and related products, and undertook other conduct in relation to these two video game franchises that, under the MOU, required prior approval from West and Zampella."

"Activision did not inform West or Zampella of such plans or seek their input or approval for them. Indeed, while breaching the creative authority provisions of the MOU, Activision continued to pay lip-service to them, in an attempt to mask its secret development efforts."

If the duo are successful in getting an annulment of the original contract, it would see them co-owning the Modern Warfare franchise with Activision, giving the pair the right to create new Modern Warfare games.


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