Activision Lawsuit Adds EA to Infinity Ward



The Activision/ex-Infinity Ward lawsuit is heating up again. Activision has filed an amended cross-complaint in the legal case between Call of Duty publisher Activision and Call of Duty creators (and Infinity Ward co-founders) Jason West and Vince Zampella. In the complaint filed today in Los Angeles by Activision’s representative, the company amended their initial counter-claim to add Electronic Arts, asserting that EA “conspired” with West and Zampella to “derail Activision’s Call of Duty franchise, disrupt its Infinity Ward development studio, and inflict serious harm on the company.” The suit alleges a systematic “pattern of deception” by EA to “hijack Activision’s assets for personal greed and corporate gain.”

Activision is seeking at least $400 million in damages from EA, West, Zampella and other parties, as well as a declaration that West and Zampella are prohibited from soliciting Activision employees, and an injunction against EA using any Activision confidential information.

According to Activision, the allegations in their pleading are “supported by documentary evidence supplied from West’s and Zampella’s own communications, from Electronic Arts’s own records and from the files of the talent agents and attorneys who conspired in the scheme to harm Activision.”

The above-mentioned communications include emails sent from Seamus Blackley, an agent at CAA, who wrote: “I’m stoked about your options,” and, in an apparent reference to EA’s John Riccitiello, “JR cooks a mean BBQ. I think we could accomplish some interesting chaos.”

The suit categorizes talks between EA, West and their representatives as a “scheme,” in which Electronic Arts “elicited and received confidential and proprietary Activision information from West and Zampella,” and goes on to describe the founders of Infinity Ward as “small-minded executives almost obsessed by jealousy of other developers and the thought that another Activision game or studio might share their spotlight.”

More on internal, Activision conflict detailed by the complaint:

“Motivated by envy and personal greed, West and Zampella went so far as to deliberately undermine the efforts of other developers within the Activision family and then lied about their conduct. On the same day that Treyarch released a video trailer promoting a follow-on product – a ‘map’ pack or ‘downloadable content’ – designed for players of Treyarch’s game Call of Duty: World at War, West and Zampella released a marketing video for Modern Warfare 2 with the purpose of hurting Treyarch’s and Activision’s marketing efforts…The real truth, however, was revealed by a series of text messages between West and an Infinity Ward employee contemporaneous with the video trailers’ release. The employee texted West that ‘treyarch released their mp dlc video.’ West responded: ‘Super nice? We release our video? Crush and destroy with our video.’ The employee answered: ‘We already did. And . . . we already did.’ West’s following comment: ‘Nice.’ Thus, West’s own words reveal his intentional strategy to ‘crush and destroy’ his fellow developers at Treyarch.”

The initial exodus of Zampella and West happened back in March. Check out our Fall of Duty coverage for a detailed look at every twist and turn in this complex story. If you want to check out these documents in their entirety, we’ve got you covered! Here’s the full Activision lawsuit document.

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In a statement issued to the L.A. Times, Electronic Arts responded to the claims filed yesterday by Activision in the lawsuit concerning the creators of Modern Warfare, Jason West and Vince Zampella’s exodus from Acitivion.

“This is a PR play filled with pettiness and deliberate misdirection. Activision wants to hide the fact that they have no credible response to the claim of two artists who were fired and now just want to get paid for their work.”

In the complaint filed yesterday in Los Angeles, Activision said it is looking for $400 million in damages and penalties from EA, West and Zampella. Read the whole complaint here.

Barring any kind of settlement between the parties, the ball is in the court’s hands: They’re expected to rule on whether EA will be included in the case sometimes in January.

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