Infinity Ward Staff Sue Activision For $125m

By John Walker on April 28th, 2010 at 9:38 am.

A scene outside the courts earlier today.

A while back, on a slow news day, I wrote a spoof story about there being only one man left at Infinity Ward. I’m started to wonder if it was prophecy. The Modern Warfare developers are rapidly running out of employees as more leave, many to join Respawn Entertainment, the new studio started up by former Infinity Ward top dogs, Vince Zampella and Jason West. The total number of IW employees who have now jumped ship or been pushed, at the time of writing, is 28. That leaves 75 remaining. And now things are getting even more strange, with 38 Infinity Warders, calling themselves the Infinity Ward Employee Group, filing a lawsuit against Activision for up to $125 million.

G4 received a copy of the lawsuit, explaining that the group of IW employees are claiming they’re owed a vast amount in unpaid bonuses after the phenomenal success of Modern Warfare 2. The group is fighting for these royalties, of anything from $75m to $125m. The game, of course, made an incredible $1.1bn in 2009 alone. According to their lawyer,

“Activision has withheld most of the money to force many of my people to stay, some against their will, so that they would finish the delivery of Modern Warfare 3. That is not what they wanted to do. Many of them. My clients’ entitled to their money. Activision has no right to withhold their money — our money.”

The implications of such a claim seem enormous. The lawsuit goes on to use words like “keep the employees hostage”. It’s understood that so far $28m has been paid to Infinity Ward, but according to those suing, 2009 profits still leave another $54m owed to them. The full list of details about where the rest of the money comes from is on G4’s story.

Activision has responded by email to G4, dismissing the lawsuit.

“Activision believes the action is without merit. Activision retains the discretion to determine the amount and the schedule of bonus payments for MW2 and has acted consistent with its rights and the law at all times. We look forward to getting judicial confirmation that our position is right.”

Going through the list of the 38 plaintiffs is interesting. For instance, Jason West and Vince Zampella do not appear. And, of those that do, a surprising sixteen are not amongst those to have quit, and are still currently working at Infinity Ward.

Where this leaves Modern Warfare 3 remains a big question. All four design leads of MW2 are gone, along with two out of three art leads. Both animation leads have left, five out of six who created the story went, and of course the director and CEO. It’s a significant dent out of the team. To keep up with this, be sure to follow Cynical Smirk’s updated coverage.

Whatever the case, it sure is one of the most peculiar gaming stories to have happened, and keeps getting peculiarier.

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107 Comments »

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  1. Dominic White says:

    This also throws a lot more doubt as to Activisions claims that West and Zampella were loathed by the Infinity Ward employees, and were working against them behind their backs, as a full quarter of the studio seems to have jumped ship with them.

    Well done, Mr Bobby Kotick – you had this studio create the single most profitable videogame in history, and then destroy them immediately with petty, childish greed. That’s how you run a business! (Into the ground).

    • offcrcartman says:

      The prospects of the next modern warfare game being good keep increasing!

    • suibhne says:

      I disagree. Even if you blame Activision (with little evidence) for the travesty of IWNet, you can’t blame Activision one iota for the ridiculous, puerile game narrative.

    • Nick says:

      If they didn’t want to make the game, its not hard to imagine they didn’t put much effort into the story. You never know.

  2. teo says:

    They’re mailing copies of the lawsuit to G4?

    That says a lot

    • Veret says:

      Hmm…to me it says that the folks over at Respawn are shrewd and just a tad unscrupulous. They know the media will jump on every Infinity War scandal they can find, and all this attention reminds everyone that Respawn is now the “spiritual successor” to Infinity Ward. As Wulf pointed out, they’re effectively taking back ownership of the Modern Warfare IP without having to acquire it legally.

      …Which, by the way, brings me to the “unscrupulous” part of this strategy. It would be considered extremely bad form (and questionably legal) for West and Zampella to actively solicit their old coworkers to come work for Respawn, so they don’t advertise. Instead, they just make sure everyone knows Blactivendi wants to steal your profits, IW is rapidly becoming a ghost town, and oh-by-the-way did you hear there’s a party going on over at Respawn? And you’re invited?

      At least, that’s what it says to me. Was that what you meant?

    • Veret says:

      @Logo:

      Sorry, didn’t realize I had my tinfoil hat on. Let me try again.

      First, I never meant this was all orchestrated by West and Zampella, although I still think they were party to it. Clearly there are a bunch of dissatisfied employees, many of whom left to join Respawn, and they’re the ones who want to publicly stick it to Blactivendi (sorry, I just love that name). It’s not a conspiracy at all, it’s just intelligent PR. The people at Respawn get the media coverage and angle they want, and it probably wasn’t hard to convince those other 16 employees still at IW to sign onto the lawsuit–they get a crack at $125 million, and if they happen to get “laid off” afterward for unrelated reasons, they’ll probably have jobs waiting for them.

      And yeah, I saw that West and Zampella weren’t among the plaintiffs. Again, I think this is more PR: Associating themselves with this lawsuit really would make it look like a conspiracy, and if they had continued to squabble with Blactivendi much longer people might think they’re becoming jealous attention whores.

      I should mention at this point that I actually like what they’re doing. But that doesn’t stop me from being cynically observant about the whole thing.

  3. Heliocentric says:

    Wait! The people who wrote the story are gone? But who is going to sit and rewrite episodes of 24 now?

    Those 16 will probably be getting laid off for some nonsense reason soon then. MW3’s future is looking bright.

    • battles_atlas says:

      “All four design leads of MW2 are gone, along with two out of three art leads. Both animation leads have left, five out of six who created the story went”

      Two things struck me about this: that it took six people to create that ‘story’, and also how useless must the third art lead be?

    • westyfield says:

      Expect ‘Tom Clancy’s Modern Warfare 3′ to be announced soon.

    • ascagnel says:

      “Tom Clancy’s” is Ubisoft. Don’t worry, we’ll be getting “Tom Clancy’s Assassin’s Catz” soon.

    • ascagnel says:

      “Tom Clancy’s” is Ubisoft. Don’t worry, we’ll be getting “Tom Clancy’s Raving Assassin’s Catz” soon.

  4. Thomas says:

    I’m sure Mr Kotick hasn’t run his business into the ground. Team or not whatever Call of Duty game they churn out will sell millions, and that’s probably why he doesn’t give a shit.

    I mean out of all the people who bought COD, how many of them are following this whole Inifinity Ward / Activision argument? How many of them actually care? I would bet that its not as many as everyone thinks.

    He is probably sat there laughing 125 million dollars won’t be anything to him when he makes his next 3 COD games and the masses buy them in their droves (and they will), in fact most of these people calling him Satan will be buying them (remember the boycott COD group on steam screenshot?)

    • The Dark One says:

      I wouldn’t say I boycotted the game because I never planned to buy it in the first place, but this news is still interesting to me. Valve suing Sierra in a battle for control over Steam and control of the Half-Life IP was probably the last time a lawsuit this big has been brought by developers against their evil overlord publishers.

      That Sierra ended up becoming part of today’s Activision isn’t too surprising.

    • andrew says:

      Brand cache only lasts so long, look at how much less successful the treyarch games have been than the infinity ward ones, so despite your cynicism, it seems like even the average consumer is able to differentiate between games that wear the COD badge.

      A couple of bad COD games will destroy its sales

    • Phill Cameron says:

      ‘A couple of bad COD games will destroy its sales’

      Even if they’re releasing them once a year (which would be pretty quick), that’s two years of guaranteed absurd-o profits, so, like has been mentioned before, I doubt they care. It’s not like Activision has ever been about the long-form game, anyway. Making a quick buck and getting the hell out of there.

    • Wulf says:

      There’s a rather hilarious logic flaw, there… I can’t pass it up, I’m sorry.

      “I mean out of all the people who bought COD, how many of them are following this whole Inifinity Ward / Activision argument? How many of them actually care? I would bet that its not as many as everyone thinks.”

      So everyone knows of it, and yet everyone doesn’t care about it in the same breath?

      I personally think that there are large swathes of people who just don’t know about it, yet, rather than not caring about it. But just you wait, soon this’ll be hitting the gaming rags, and when it does? That poor fan’s going to be completely covered in faecal matter.

      And when the reviews of the next Call of Duty come along and they’re fairly shit, I’m sure that the reviewers will happily point out that all the people who used to make Call of Duty have gone to Respawn, and that there’s no life left in the franchise. And when the first Respawn games arrive, they’ll have headlines like “New franchise carries the soul of old Infinity Ward!

      I personally believe it’s going to hit Activision harder than you think, or could ever realise.

    • ascagnel says:

      @Wulf: I’m imagining this gutting the Activision side. They’ve already lost Tony Hawk to Skate, Guitar Hero is a burnt-out husk of its former self. Blizzard will be fine, for now.

    • Premium User Badge

      drewski says:

      It *really* doesn’t take much to destroy a franchise. Look at the Championship Manager games – after eidos and Sports Interactive split, and SI made Football Manager, all the reviews of CM after that basically said “CM isn’t very good, the guys who used to make it now make Football Manager, go play that instead.” And now the CM brand is a bit of a joke and FM is consistently a bestseller in the UK.

      It’ll only take one average game for people to hop off the CoD/MW bandwagon, I reckon. People have short attention spans at the best of times and if the next CoD/MW isn’t a blockbuster experience, people are going to ask why – even the ones who don’t follow internets scandals – and when they ask their friends/read reviews/talk about it online, they’re going to hear the story and about Respawn and bang, there goes your IP.

  5. cheal says:

    This is actually hilarious :P

    • Wulf says:

      Isn’t it though?

      Rich & greedy people suffering is my favourite sort of schadenfreude!

  6. /V/endetta says:

    Just as planned……

  7. Daniel Klein says:

    I propose we call this the Infinity War.

    • RC-1290'Dreadnought' says:

      @Daniel Klein agreed, Infinity War is a good name. You have an active vision.

    • Jimbo says:

      I think “Call of Duty: Modern Job Fair” is the best one I’ve seen.

    • 12kill4 says:

      I forsee a day when this becomes a colloquial verb… “you just got infinity wared”, and the circle shall be complete. (this will probably lead to Kotick transforming into the devil, or nothing at all.)

    • battles_atlas says:

      I chuckled heartily at that

    • Bret says:

      “Kotick transforming into the devil, or nothing at all.”

      Aren’t those the same thing?

    • 12kill4 says:

      @ Bret:
      its mainly comes down to a difference in the special effects budgets…

  8. cliffski says:

    This is like a bible on ho not to run a games company.
    Developers are just a group of talented people. Treat them bad, they leave. Then you own the company, but its just 2 filing cabinets and a pretty logo.
    What a balls up.

    • Premium User Badge

      Flimgoblin says:

      Exactly, it’s a knowledge industry – without the people you have nothing.

    • Bhazor says:

      No, without the people you still have the name and franchise. The franchise that brings in tens of millions of casual gamers who have never even heard of Kotick let alone realise whats happened behind the scenes.

    • Wulf says:

      @Bhazor

      You don’t need to be watching the Internet like a hawk for the damage to set in. I know of casual people who pick up games rags to see what’s coming out for their console toys, the right magazine article and then a good deal of word of mouth could do tremendous damage.

      From the moment that Activision screwed their own developers, their Call of Duty franchise has been living on borrowed time, and soon enough that time will run out and then that franchise is screwed.

    • 12kill4 says:

      @Filmgoblin:
      And that is precisely the reason that bringing in ‘packaged goods people’ into the videogame industry is such a stupid idea.

      @Blazor:
      so long as you’re able to reproduce the product which was associated with the brand to a similar degree of quality… but as I believe Filmgoblin is suggesting, the product IS the people who made it- it is the direct result of that particular collaboration of individuals and, for better or worse, the external pressures which shaped their work. Removing the people from Infinity Ward removes half the equation and as Treyarch’s attempts at the CoD IP have shown- it makes all the difference. (No offense meant to Treyarch, but their titles just don’t seem to have the same zing as IW’s and I think most people would agree…)

    • Bhazor says:

      Now Treyarch are the ones responsible for World at War right? Largely regarded as vastly inferior to Modern Warfare right? The game that was released with comparatively little fan fare compared to the blanket coverage of MW2 right? The game that sold 12 million units and moved $50,000,000 in DLC alone?
      http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=25743

      Somehow I don’t think the loss of Infinity Ward is as crippling to Activision as a name change would be. Especially if they could just buy a new studio and rename it Infinity Ward. I’m not saying it’s what they’re going to do its just what I would do if I was them. After buying a yacht and a castle I mean.

    • Bhazor says:

      A name change from Call of Duty to something else I mean.

    • Jimbo says:

      Treyarch have only proven they can convincingly replicate IW’s work, and even then only whilst IW’s expertise and assets are a phone call away. They are no more than skilled forgers of IW’s masterpiece – so far.

      I absolutely agree that the brand alone is strong enough to sell whatever comes out next, but the question is: are Treyarch or Zombinity Ward going to be able to maintain the strength of that brand going forward? In a year or two, the current CoD template will be dated and some other feature or mechanic will be the hot new thing. The chance of Activision’s subs bench figuring out what that thing is, before somebody more talented does, seems slim to me.

    • Premium User Badge

      Flimgoblin says:

      My point was more you can’t just gut your company, replace the entire team, keep the name of the product and expect to do as well. Whatever you get it’s a derivative especially since a risk-averse publisher would give even less leeway to another dev house to play with the license (cutting out any chance that their creativity might take the game in new directions).

      Packaged goods mentality: “That worked, let’s slap a ‘new improved’ label on it, and release it again next year.”

      That said I wonder if Activision had as much to lose by this as I’m suggesting: if IW wasn’t superkeen to go all hands on deck for ModWarf3 you’d have to suspect their work would suffer anyway.

    • Mo says:

      @Flimgoblin:
      Yes you can! I mean, just look at what Activision did with Guitar Hero.

      … oh, wait. ;)

    • ascagnel says:

      @Filmgoblin: Were you aware that Kotick, the CEO of A/B, came from packaged goods? If not, that was an awesome call.

    • Nick says:

      Bhazor – there is always the Champ/Football Manager thing to show that even a lot of ‘casual’ gamers will find out where the spiritual successor is.

    • 12kill4 says:

      “ascagnel says:
      @Filmgoblin: Were you aware that Kotick, the CEO of A/B, came from packaged goods? If not, that was an awesome call.”

      I think you would have a hard time finding someone here who doesn’t know that….

  9. Mike says:

    five out of six who created the story went

    Silver linings, eh?

  10. luphisto says:

    “this will not impact the future cod games in anyway”

  11. Premium User Badge

    Wichtel says:

    What this is is a PR disaster! I dont want to be a Activision PR guy right now. Every leaving employee gets a news post on all big gaming sites.

  12. Tyrmot says:

    It gets getting peculiarier? That’s a bit of a brain twister for a morning read…

  13. Flint says:

    *gets popcorn*

  14. Jimbo says:

    Short of West & Zampella turning out to still have a veto on the use of the CoD and/or Modern Warfare brand, then Acti will just put somebody else on making MW3 – or wait until Treyarch have finished whatever they’re doing now and then get them on it.

    I don’t buy into the theory that it’s ‘Just an army man game!’ and that anybody can make them though. The guys they are losing have repeatedly proven themselves (by sales) to be the best in the industry at making these games. You can’t just replace them and think the brand’s success will just carry on regardless. MW3 will sell off the strength of the brand alone, but it’s what happens afterwards that will really tell how much impact this has had.

    Personally, I think this is a much bigger problem for Activision than some – maybe even Activision themselves – seem to think it is. Activision is a house of cards, and they’re being wrecklessly mismanaged. If CoD loses its place at the top, what do Activision have left? Nothing. What do they have coming through? Nothing, because they treated all of their top talent like shit. Why would the very best new talent in the industry ever choose to work for them now?

    I know they have Blizz and WoW, but even WoW can’t sustain Acti’s position at the top forever by itself. Will the best Blizzard guys even want to stick around if they’re just carrying Activision?

    • Jimbo says:

      Well hush my mouth. Bungie were foolish enough to jump into bed with Activision. Didn’t see that one coming at all.

  15. Dominic White says:

    I’d just like to point out that while this won’t initially hurt Activision much, once the shareholders get word that Kotick has managed to completely destroy the studio that created (and I repeat for emphasis) the single most profitable videogame ever made, they’re going to get nervous, and Activisions stock value will fall.

    And that, right there, will hurt the company.

  16. Okami says:

    This is exactly the right moment to bring out this old classic..

    • Stromko says:

      Gah! All the left-wing claptrap in the comments on that video scares me almost as much as the right wing. Some of them seriously think it all comes down to a choice between fascism, hard-line socialism or unbridled capitalism– and if any of that were true, 98% of us would be either enslaved or killed.

  17. Ravenger says:

    I’m really enjoying watching the two sides here fight it out, as in my view both sides nerfed the PC version compared to COD4
    On the one hand Activision allegedly screwed the developers out of their bonuses, plus charged a fortune for the PC version and charged for maps which would previously have been free on the PC.
    On the other we have a devteam that lied to PC gamers about the lack of dedicated servers and other features (‘Not balanced for lean’), creating a deliberately consolised PC version.
    It was ironic when you could buy COD4 on Steam over the weekend for less than the price of the map pack which included maps from COD4.

  18. Huggster says:

    I am having too much fun in Bad Company 2 to care!

    Greed makes me puke.

  19. gulag says:

    Since this story started I’ve seen many comments across the web making the point that a change of team/ loss of key people won’t make the slightest bit of difference to Activisions’ bottom line because most people who buy games don’t read the trade press.

    This doesn’t scan. Of course the regular man on the street won’t notice that the names in the credits have changed, but he will notice that, if by the time those credits roll, he hasn’t had as good a game experience. A brand will get you in the door, but if the product doesn’t measure up to expectations, people will simply look the other way next time the same shoddy wares are trotted out.

    CoD as a franchise may not drop dead overnight, but in the long run it’s prospects don’t look so good. Medal of Honour walked this very same road. Right now you’d have to gift wrap a MoH game in lesbians for me to consider buying it. So punters might not know the why when a series of games takes a wrong turn, but don’t imagine they’ll stick around for long when it does.

  20. Subject 706 says:

    What? They needed SIX people to come up with that story??

    • suibhne says:

      6 isn’t surprising – I don’t think any less than 5 dueling writers could’ve crafted such complete and utter rubbish.

  21. battles_atlas says:

    [deleted]

  22. Navagon says:

    Thing is, if Activision won then it could cause them far greater damage than if they lost. From what I gather, Activision offers only a very modest salary topped up mostly by royalties. This is supposed to be an encouragement for their staff to achieve more.

    If it was ruled that they didn’t have to pay royalties then there’s no reason why anyone else in the entire company would have a reason to stick around. Any one of them could be shafted. And if Kotick is willing to shaft the very people who brought in the most money then…

  23. Phill Cameron says:

    Also, the CEO and President of Activision Publishing just resigned.

  24. K-k says:

    Hey, since the story, art and design leads are gone, maybe Modern Warfare 3 will actually be above decent! We can always hope.

  25. Koozer says:

    You know what’d be hilarious? If Modern Warfare 3 was actually good and Respawn’s efforts were duller than 2.

    • Wulf says:

      I don’t see that.

      I see Respawn putting together a game that the general gaming public will enjoy, and Modern Warfare 3 being a total travesty.

      Why?

      Infinity Ward didn’t want to make MW2, their heart wasn’t in it, but Activision pretty much forced the choice on them. The end result was that they just threw something together, and that was MW2.

      They have the freedom to create their own game, now, and whomever Activision puts on the project next probably won’t want to be there by choice.

  26. Lobotomist says:

    This is real filth of gaming industry.
    I only regret that Infinity Ward refuges had to move under EA “protecting” wing. Jumping from frying pan into the fire.

    As for Activision. Sadly they still hold Blizzard – and Starcraft 2 , Diablo 3. Games I will be compelled to buy against my better judgment and principles.

    I really hate to give Kotick any money.

    • Dominic White says:

      Respawn should be safe – apparently they’re a seperate entity, not owned by EA, but they have a publishing agreement set up. It’s like how Bungie and Valve are set up now, and seems to be the best way to go if you’ve got a solid studio.

    • Clovis says:

      Is this the same person who was comparing himself to Jesus yesterday? Was Valve just not offerring enough pieces of silver?

    • Rinox says:

      @ Lobotomist:

      So you’d buy Starcraft 2 and Diablo 3 (by your own admission) regardless of the fact that Activision are probably 10 times as douchey as Valve?

      Dang. So if it’s okay if YOU (apparently knowingly, too) do it for games you like? You really must be Jesus if you’re capable of such superhuman feats of hypocrisy. :-O

  27. Unaco says:

    “Activision retains the discretion to determine the amount and the schedule of bonus payments for MW2 and has acted consistent with its rights and the law at all times.”

    So… Activision haven’t been criminals in the way they’ve handled/withheld the bonus payments… they’ve just been massive arseholes, and used them (or the promise of them) to manipulate the IW employees? I think they just admitted to that with the above quote.

    I’m not too bothered about the situation. I inherited CoD:MW2, spent about 2 days playing it, SP and MP. That was enough for me. I thought it was a horrible game, and I wouldn’t be too fussed if MW3 or anything similar never gets made. Ever.

    • ddthesm says:

      ““Activision retains the discretion to determine the amount and the schedule of bonus payments for MW2 and has acted consistent with its rights and the law at all times.”

      So… Activision haven’t been criminals in the way they’ve handled/withheld the bonus payments… they’ve just been massive arseholes, and used them (or the promise of them) to manipulate the IW employees? I think they just admitted to that with the above quote.

      I’m not too bothered about the situation. I inherited CoD:MW2, spent about 2 days playing it, SP and MP. That was enough for me. I thought it was a horrible game, and I wouldn’t be too fussed if MW3 or anything similar never gets made. Ever.”

      I’m glad someone else out there doesn’t actually like the game. I tried to get into it, I really did. But as a game it’s like watching…or I guess playing a train wreck. I think that’s why people play it. It’s so horrible & horrifying at the same time that you can’t stop.

      But I did. Just glad I rented it instead of bought. Their “story” I couldn’t follow, and it seemed like they just threw in whatever would be the most horrifying situations in a shooter to provoke the audience instead of having a well-paced, thought out environment to get immersed into. Shooting with terrorists at an airport, gunning down people at the war memorial…it all made me want to cry with all of the real wars/battles going on in the world.

  28. Die Happy says:

    hmm some german news site says they are suing for 625 million $ …

  29. GT3000 says:

    Interesting to see how the court case pans out. Is Activision an evil corporation? Maybe.
    Is IW full of whiny bitches? Maybe.

    No way to tell without looking at the contractual documentation regarding their bonus payments.

  30. GT3000 says:

    Is Activision an evil corporation? Maybe.

    Is IW full of whiny bitches? Maybe.

    No way to tell but it’ll be fun to watch.

  31. Ginger Yellow says:

    Even if the effective implosion of Infinity Ward doesn’t affect future sales of CoD (I can see the arguments both ways), I can’t imagine how this situation – even more than the West/Zampella fracas – will not seriously damage Activision in the long run. If you’re a developer with a great game idea or a studio looking to sell yourselves to one of the big boys, why on earth would you go to Activision now, knowing that they’re willing to destroy a billion dollar earning studio just to save money on bonuses?

  32. wokjraslnfsa says:

    The only outcome that would benefit both Activision, the Infinity Ward Employees, and gamers would be-

    Activision pays the remaining 54mil, fires the rest of IW

    Respawn Studio picks up all the employees

    Activision retains the right to the Call of What-was-once-great-but-now-shitty-“Duty” to blow that up, like they did with every other franchise they have

    Respawn Studios lets Infinity Ward do whatever they want- they produce the best game in the world, with no DLC planned on release

    Activision turns it’s eye to Blizzard’s World of Warcraft and all Blizzard games to blow up after their CoD7-10 bomb (all released within a span of 1 year), and make Blizzard fail too.

  33. VelvetFistIronGlove says:

    My upcoming game “COD: North Atlantic: Fish stocks zero” will remain completely unaffected by this lawsuit.

  34. Tei says:

    I have bad news and good news.

    The bad news is that this set the last “Seal of Apocalypsys”, that once broken, will spawn the Apocalypsys.

    The good news is that this seal is Activision will firing all the Blizzard employes, and suing then all, because of some discussions about converting WoW into a F2P model.
    I am sure this will never happend. But If it happends, then, is the end, of all, forever.

  35. Radiant says:

    As interesting as this.
    This lawsuit is absurd.
    Infinity Ward were supposed to make a modern warfare game every two years.
    Contracted to do so. [signed their lives away yada yada yada should have read the contract.]

    They can’t just then turn around and say no and then refuse to do the work.

    It doesn’t matter to activision anyway.
    As brilliant as cod4 was; cod6 was just following the same formula.
    As good as cod6 was it was still pretty much a remix of 4.
    Yet Medal of honour STILL fucking sells like infinity ward never stopped making it.

    Still the fact that all this is playing out in the open is kind of delicious.
    I just don’t know why people are picking sides so vehemently.

    • Radiant says:

      Why do I have to be the post just after Tei’s?
      That fucker is brilliant.

    • Talorc says:

      Read the West & Zampella lawsuit. According to them, the last time they signed a contract with Activision they were obligated to deliver MW2, but after that they were free to work on a fresh licence. Not MW on permanent repeat.

    • jalf says:

      @Radiant, I doubt you’ve seen the contract IW worked under, so aren’t you a bit quick to say they’re wrong?

      Moreover, whatever was in their contract, it applies to the company, not the people. IW employees can sure as hell leave if Activision pisses them off.

      And of course, even if you’re right and IW is contractually bound to work on a MW game every two years, that still doesn’t really settle the problem, because what they’re apparently being sued for now is *not paying IW the bonus money they’re owed. Which has nothing to do with how many MW games they’re supposed to make per year.

      As for everyone picking sides. Well, yeah, we’re gamers. I’d say it’s pretty obvious that we’d side with those who make good games over those who manage to make an extremely successful development team implode.

      In the whole IW debacle, whatever the contracts say, Activision’s role so far has only been to *prevent* good games from being made. Their actions has caused 28 people to leave IW.

  36. Wednesday says:

    Y’know, I’m not so sure people will always flock to CoD because of the name.

    When was the last time you bought a Medal of Honor?

    People do stop buying into a series when it starts to suck for them.

  37. Talorc says:

    I love how Activision’s response is basically we can pay those noobs whatever the f*ck we want, whenever the f*ck we want, so they can STFU.

  38. jalf says:

    It’s funny how Activision switches between “It’s all legal, so we don’t see the problem”, and “we treat our developers better than anyone in the industry”.

  39. Rick says:

    Wasn’t Infinity Ward formed from former 2015 employees who had abandoned shop when they got fed up with EA and Medal of Honour?

  40. EBass says:

    I wouldn’t mind seeing both of these companies go down the shitter.

    MW2 was totally generic and IW lied to us and Activision is becoming a bigger evil empire than EA ever was. I’m rooting for the everything is totally fucked and destroyed outcome.

  41. psyk says:

    Got bored halfway down the comments so this might of got said down there.

    the cod games are made like this so the next cod is a treyarch game its not untill the one after that when it goes back to IW
    cod 4 mw – IW
    cod 5 waw – treyarch
    cod 6 mw2 – IW
    cod 7 – treyarch
    cod 8 – ????

  42. Shalrath says:

    ” You can’t just replace them and think the brand’s success will just carry on regardless.”

    Counter-point: Blizzard.

  43. DMJ says:

    Acting well within their rights to determine the payout schedule for the royalties, Activision has decided to pay bonuses to staff starting in April 2264 on the successful release of Call of Duty 1376: Modern Warfare 1373, in installments of $1 per month.

  44. kalidanthepalidan says:

    I think the other thing that will end up hurting Activision is that good game developers looking for a job may think twice before going to work for a studio owned by Activision. If this is how Activision treats the studio which made the most profitable game ever, what’s to say they won’t treat other studios with less clout similarly or worse? Hiring and employing good talent is key. Talent makes good games, not brands. Sure popular brands like COD will continue to be profitable in the short-run, but brands will eventually die off if the quality of the games under that brand deteriorate.

  45. n1spl says:

    Did you read the lawsuit (because your dead wrong)? Funny thing about this is that IW employees don’t have a contract, they work at an “at will” basis. Their royalty payment percentages and schedule are actually specified in West and Zampella’s contract. The only thing required of them to obtain royalties was to finish the game on time, which they did. I don’t see how Activision can wiggle out of this (at least paying the royalties that were due at the time they quit ~56mil).

  46. WeeN says:

    Aren’t West and Zampella in a Lawsuit against A/B of about 36M$ and the IP on Modern Warfare? If they win, there will be no MW3(not that it does matter to me), at least not with A/B!

  47. Shalrath says:

    “I think the other thing that will end up hurting Activision is that good game developers looking for a job may think twice before going to work for a studio owned by Activision. ”

    The problem here is that most studios are owned by people who just want to sell the studio – the best way to do that is to get bought by a company like activision.

    So sadly, they still go. Even good people who work for companies looking to sell out.

  48. Scandalon says:

    Makes me feel bad (er, worse) about $15 I spent on COD4 this weekend…

  49. Eight Rooks says:

    (Can’t reply to Wulf’s post that I want to reply to, so I’m CP-ing it.)

    >>>There’s a rather hilarious logic flaw, there… I can’t pass it up, I’m sorry.

    “I mean out of all the people who bought COD, how many of them are following this whole Inifinity Ward / Activision argument? How many of them actually care? I would bet that its not as many as everyone thinks.”

    So everyone knows of it, and yet everyone doesn’t care about it in the same breath?<<<

    It isn't a logical flaw at all, you're just playing with semantics because you're obviously… let's say very eager to see Activision taking a hit as a result of this. ‘Everyone who bought one or all of the last three CoD games’ and ‘everyone who’s following the Activision/IW legal spat’ are clearly not the same thing. I’d love to see Kotick discover people do care who makes their digital entertainment, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if millions upon millions of his customers don’t regularly read online gaming news sites, haven’t a clue who Zampanella and West are and just want another game with Call of Duty in the title that lets them shoot mans in the face online.

  50. Sonicgoo says:

    ” According to their lawyer,

    […] their money — our money.”

    Even at this stage it’s clear who will be the big winners here.