Call Of Duty is one of the most successful first person shooter games of all time. The creators of the game Jason West and Vince Zampella filed a lawsuit in 2010 claiming that they were unfairly dismissed from their positions as chief technology officer and chief creative officer at Infinity Ward, owned by Activision.
They were removed from the positions just before Activision would have had to pay them millions in bonuses for Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 which broke industry sales records at the time, generating over $1 billion. It was the best selling game of all time until Call Of Duty: Black Ops was released.
Activision replied to the suit saying that they were justified in sacking West and Zampella because they were disloyal and breached their contracts. The lawsuit said “They were small-minded executives almost obsessed by jealousy of other developers.”
There is up to $1 billion in damages at stake in this claim, if the jury should decide against Activision. The company posted a huge $1 billion annual profit in 2011, supported by the release of Modern Warfare 3 which was developed by Infinity Ward, alongside Sledgehammer Games. This game took more than $400 million on the first day.
West and Zampella’s legal team say that Activision’s chief legal officer George Rose wanted to break into West’s and Zampella’s computers and email accounts to build a case against them. This can be considered a breach of privacy. Court filings say that “Activision began preparing to terminate them once the game was delivered.”
Activision claim that the designers were ‘conspiring’ with competing game publisher Electronic Arts to leave and to take the best Infinity Ward talent with them.
Kitguru says: A lot of money is at stake with this suit. We imagine that the fight will be dirty.