Joined: Oct 02, 2011
Fri Jun 01, 2012 12:42 am
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Activision Sued by Sacked ‘Call of Duty’ Creators (Update1)
March 04, 2010, 2:15 AM EST
By Tim Culpan and Adam Satariano
March 4 (Bloomberg) -- Activision Blizzard Inc. was sued by the executives who created the “Call of Duty” franchise, after the video-game publisher fired them on “false” insubordination charges to avoid paying royalties, according to their complaint.
Jason West and Vince Zampella, who co-founded Activision’s Infinity Ward studio, sued the company in Los Angeles Superior Court yesterday, claiming breach of contract and wrongful termination. They seek at least $36 million and control over “Modern Warfare,” a subset of the “Call of Duty” combat games, according to a copy of the complaint.
Activision, the world’s largest video-game company, conducted a “pretextual” investigation to fire the Infinity Ward co-heads and avoid making a royalty payment due on March 31, according to the complaint. “Activision terminated their employment weeks before they were to be paid substantial royalty payments as part of their existing contracts for ‘Modern Warfare 2,’” West and Zampella’s lawyers at O’Melveny & Myers LLP wrote in a statement.
Maryanne Lataif, a spokeswoman for Santa Monica, California-based Activision Blizzard, declined to comment on the suit. The company said in a March 1 regulatory filing that two senior executives who led “Modern Warfare” were leaving and said it was investigating insubordination and breach of contract.
The company said on March 2 that it formed a new unit to run the “Call of Duty” franchise, naming Philip Earl to lead the unit.
West and Zampella oversaw creation of the World War II video-game “Call of Duty” and “Modern Warfare” sequels set in later periods. “Call of Duty” titles have generated about $3 billion in revenue, Activision said in its 2009 annual filing.
Activision’s top-three titles, “Call of Duty,” “Guitar Hero” and “World of Warcraft,” accounted for 68 percent of Activision Blizzard’s $4.3 billion in revenue last year, it said in the filing.
Activision rose 16 cents to $10.97 yesterday on the Nasdaq Stock Market. The shares have lost 1.3 percent this year.
The case is Jason West and Vince Zampella v. Activision Publishing Inc., SC 10741, Los Angeles Superior Court, California.
Activision, Infinity Ward settle long-standing legal dispute
Undisclosed settlement terms put halt to pending trial over bonuses.
by Kyle Orland - May 31 2012, 3:23pm MDT
Just as the long-simmering legal issues between Call of Duty publisher Activision and former members of Call of Duty developer Infinity Ward seemed headed to trial early next month, the parties have apparently reached a mutually agreed-upon out-of-court settlement.
"All parties have reached a settlement in the dispute, the terms of which are strictly confidential," reports LA Times film and game reporter Ben Fritz in a tweet from the LA courthouse. After the judge officially dismissed the case, The Verge reporter Michael McWhertor tweeted that Infinity Ward cofounder Jason West and his attorney left the courtroom with no further comment than a "beaming smile."
The $500 million class-action lawsuit was filed over two years ago by 40 former employees of Infinity Ward, including West and fellow cofounder Vince Zampella, who left the Activision subsidiary alleging that the publisher had failed to pay agreed-upon bonuses following the massive success of the Call of Duty games. Activision, for its part, countered that Infinity Ward founders West and Vince Zampella forfeited their bonuses when they were fired for alleged insubordination.
It's unlikely that the specific terms of the settlement will ever be released to the public, though if the payout is big enough there's a chance Activision may have to reveal the specifics in future SEC filings. In any case, the settlement leaves the former Infinity Ward employees more time to focus on their development of the new IP they've been working on since the formation of Respawn Entertainment.