Former Infinity Ward heads fired before Activision paid royalties

March 6, 2010

Former Infinity Ward heads fired before Activision paid royalties Things are getting ugly between Activision and the former Infinity Ward heads. Jason West and Vince Zampella recently fired back at Activision with their own lawsuit against the giant publisher. The two former members allege that the publisher owes them unpaid royalties and lists out other complaints.

It seems like the rumors were true that relations between Infinity Ward and Activision have been deteriorating for quite some time even before the development of Modern Warfare 2. According to Joystiq, a 16-page court filing from the two former IW heads lists out the many complaints against Activision.

As speculated, Activision fired West and Zampella weeks before having to pay out royalties to the two former IW heads. I suspect that the royalties would have been in the tens of millions.

The claim states:

Activision fired them in hope that by doing so, it could avoid paying them what they had rightfully earned, and to seize control of the Infinity Ward studio, to which Activision had previously granted creative control over all Modern Warfare branded games.

The document also points out that Activision purchased the studio for a mere $5 million originally, and the Call of Duty franchise has earned the publisher over $3 billion since 2003 (including Treyarch-developed titles).

The document also indicates that prior to IW’s agreement to develop Modern Warfare 2, the studio heads “were not eager to extend their employment.” This statement has me believing that there must have been some sort of exit clause in the Infinity Ward’s buy-out contract. However, before the studio heads were able execute on this, Activision preemptively sacked them.

Another issue IW former heads had with the publisher was the increasing pressure from Activision to compromise the studio’s creative freedom. This seems to again point towards talks with Electronic Arts. We will keep you updated on this breaking news.

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