Infinity Ward founders sue Activision for royalties

By Matthew · 27 replies
Mar 5, 2010
  1. After being terminated earlier this week, Infinity Ward founders Vince Zampella and Jason West have filed suit against the studio's parent company, Activision. The senior employees were allegedly dismissed for "breach of contract and insubordination."

    Read the whole story
  2. mv670

    mv670 TS Rookie Posts: 58

    You can say goodbye to the success of Cod4 and MW2, I don't think any other developer can achieve what the infinity ward team did to the franchise. The standard has been set at a high level. Wow Activision what in the world are you thinking?
  3. eafshar

    eafshar TS Enthusiast Posts: 68

    it sucks to work your heart an soul into a company you founded and then have it taken away from ya..what exactly does activision make thats any good beside modern warfare which is actually made by infinity ward?
  4. CMH

    CMH TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,039   +9

    Assuming that they weren't the brains behind the P2P multiplayer only support.
  5. Relic

    Relic TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,379   +16

    And now the other side of the "Fall of Duty" shows itself. It'll be interesting to see what all comes to light in the next few months between Activision, IW and Vince & Jason.

    On a side note did anyone else see Bobby Koticks speech at DICE? He's doing a complete 180 on everything he said, claiming not to be sellouts like EA, claiming to be the best place to go for independent development...all while closing down RedOctane (GuitarHero) and shacking up IW there two biggest franchises. Don't think anyone bought his speech to begin with...but wow, I think Activision finally solidified themselves as the most hated gaming company. At least there partner Blizzard is one of the most loved so it's kinda balanced =) .
  6. Burty117

    Burty117 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 3,147   +915

    Ha ha! its true. Blizzard evens it all out.
  7. LGraves

    LGraves TS Rookie Posts: 39

    MW2 was my 1st IW/COD game. I must say i was impressed at first. But MW2 will not last with their hated IWNet.
  8. Tekkaraiden

    Tekkaraiden TS Evangelist Posts: 997   +93

    If this is true I hope they win, I thought EA was bad.
  9. Wolfanoz

    Wolfanoz TS Rookie

    This is a greed takeover of epic proportions from Activision. Kotick should be ashamed but people in such positions are rarely so.
  10. Guiter Hero is the only other big game I know they make.

    I have a feeling this will mark the end of good COD games to come out. Activision is looking at pure short term profits and not thinking about what this will do for the future of there company. People will get tired of COD if they have more than one game coming out a year(what has happen to Guiter Hero). Right now at the one game a year it was getting bad enough. Luckily the ones Treyarch made were so bad that most people ended up playing the IW games for at least 2 years. It looks like Halo will once again top the xbox console base.
  11. Vrmithrax

    Vrmithrax TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,352   +293

    Wow, talk about low. This is kind of like breaking up with your girlfriend a week before her birthday, just so you won't have to buy her that diamond jewelry you've been promising her.

    If those guys don't get the royalties from such a massively successful product (which they OBVIOUSLY finished, so they deserve to reap the rewards), then there needs to be some serious revisions in how the whole process is structured. Sounds to me like the big company gets to laugh all the way to the bank, while kicking the ones who actually did all the work into the gutter.
  12. Richy2k9

    Richy2k9 TS Enthusiast Posts: 515

    hello ...

    that's too bad, i'm sure Activision will keep up with the games, but i would really like to know what really happened & both side's version.

  13. KidChaos

    KidChaos TS Rookie Posts: 23

    let the litigation begin! hate this is over royalties and not getting the game to be better (i.e. fix cheats, dedicated servers, etc)
  14. Matthew

    Matthew TechSpot Staff Topic Starter Posts: 5,332   +101

    Beyond the lawsuit, I have to wonder what company will pick up Zampella and West. They're obviously great talents and it wouldn't surprise me at all to see EA or another company of that caliber offer the pair their own studio. I also wonder whether other members of Infinity Ward would set sail to join them.
  15. MrAnderson

    MrAnderson TS Maniac Posts: 488   +10

    Although I do not know all the facts, I hope they knock Activision down a few notches. When publishers get too big they start practices that are not very nice to put it lightly.

    I understand that publishers foot the upfront costs for marketing and developing a new game, but ideally there should be a limit to how much they can profit off of another's idea. The game is another story. It is the situation between owning the game and the foundational materials that form the IP.

    If they have their own internal studios fine, but the 2nd party studios should not be goaded into such a situation. When they don’t maintain ownership of something they created, they are back to square one, perhaps with a better reputation to get new business, but the coffers can still be empty leaving them at the mercy of the next shark.

    Maybe if the nature of publisher that hordes IP were changed the market would be better.
    Some upstart should come along and reintroduce the concept of licensing IP along the lines of Id Software. Sort of like a contract of producing a number of Games, but the IP belongs to the developer with option to sell. The publisher could have the option to republish the original games and the developer can get royalties. The details of amounts can be hashed out in the agreement, but that would probably be a nice compromise.

    Digital systems are going to force publisher hands eventually, or they will need to adapt by building their own disribution systems. I imaging this will get crazy. Sorry for the rant... my main points are Activision needs to get punished if they are not treating the IP generators well. 2nd it would be nice if things were different for the people that invent IP.
  16. bearspencer

    bearspencer TS Rookie

    Hindsight is not always 20/20 but it can be close.

    No one who paid attention to "Mein Kampf" was much surprised by the events following.

    No one who has paid attention to Bobby Kotick's remarks at numerous gaming conventions should be surprised by these events.
  17. InsaneVr6

    InsaneVr6 TS Booster Posts: 221

    My only fear is the future of the CoD name. Call of Duty is the ONLY video game that I play mostly on a daily basis. Based on the ending of MW2 there is supposed to be another one, and nobody can do it like Infinity Ward.

    This is probably the worst move Activision could make. Congratulations on getting rid of the people who revolutionized gaming.
  18. Relic

    Relic TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,379   +16

    Why go to another company? If they win this case or at least get favorable settlement they could start an independent studio and have a partnership with publishers like Epic Games. While ya their are downsides and its harder, they do keep control of there studio. They also have the reputation to deliver quality games and I'm sure they could attract talent again if not former IW guys themselves. I guess I can only hope for this :) , I rather see more independent studios personally then these conglomerate giants who give a hoot about gamers.

    From my layman understanding and from what I've been reading Activision owns the Call of Duty IP and IW itself. But Vince and Jason are arguing in there lawsuit that the Modern Warfare brand is not Activisions and wants to retain the right to it and bar Activision from making anything beyond the Vietnam war.

    In any case I agree with you, and as I mentioned above if there were more independent studios the consumer should benefit more then only a couple giants owning all the big IP or buying them up.

    Indeed, I didn't buy his recent speech at DICE and actions speak louder then words imo. A part of me hoped he would be a better guy, but he even said it himself in his speech. He runs a business, that requires business decisions and he has to place his shareholders interest above anything else. Now we'll see if it comes back to bite him in the @$$ with this case.
  19. Matthew

    Matthew TechSpot Staff Topic Starter Posts: 5,332   +101

    @Relic: I could be wrong, but I think I've read that Modern Warfare 2 had a $200 million launch budget. With a thirst for creating expensive titles, I imagine it would be in their best interest to join or somehow sign with another large company. Should be interesting to see how things play out regardless :).
  20. boyese

    boyese TS Rookie Posts: 20

    I think the intended "substantial royalty payments' for Zampella and West will be going to Activision's shareholders for a good night out for all the hard work they have done in COD MW2. I hopefully they will wakeup with a hangover and to a lost court battle.
  21. Relic

    Relic TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,379   +16

    You're right it had a huge budget, and that is a downside for being independent. You simply don't have those kind of resources to pour into a development. Then again partnerships shouldn't kill the possibility of having a larger budget. Stuffing more money into a development on the other hand doesn't always mean a better product. There are WAY more big budget flops then successes, take Too Human for example.

    And you can do a lot with a little if it's done right. Like Epic Games, if I'm not mistaken GoW 1 budget was ~$10 million and GoW 2 was ~$12 million. The franchise has sold around 10 million to date, which is amazing. But they do have the Unreal Engine which obviously helps a lot.

    You don't need a huge budget to make quality titles, you just need to know your audience and deliver on it. But with costs and expectations rising I see it sadly getting harder & harder. I guess time will tell and they'll do what's best for them. At the end of the day I'm just a gamer who wants whats best, and I don't always get that feeling from these huge publishers.
  22. pipopaz

    pipopaz TS Rookie Posts: 70

    I'm really concern about the future of the franchise, what it seems for monetary and name gain a good game might met its end.
  23. NightAngel79

    NightAngel79 TS Booster Posts: 191   +46

    Thought that only happened in football! You have a roster bonus coming next week do ya, how about we just release you instead! Seems like the same kinda situation, corporations can *%#! *%!
  24. Yoda8232

    Yoda8232 TS Rookie Posts: 145

    Well all I care that happens is that CoD is still around and gets back it's dedicated servers and modding support with a console.
  25. rufio

    rufio TS Rookie Posts: 51

    makes you wonder... what kind of 'inappropriate behavior' a bunch of geeks can brew up in the office to get em fired. too bad for the IA crew... they did a heck of job making call of duty exciting for gamers
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