You might be forgiven for thinking that Activision would be more than just a little pleased with game developers Infinity Ward which is responsible for the Call of Duty franchise, and which Activision acquired back in 2003. Forgiven, but wrong.
Modern Warfare 2 is more than a game, it's the most successful and profitable video game ever sold. Since hitting the shelves in November 2009, Modern Warfare 2 has sold more than 15 million copies and earned owners an amazing $3 billion is sales. yes, you read that right, $3 billion! It makes that $41,000 NES game look positively cheap.
In what has been an incredible week for the gaming business, Infinity Ward President Jason West and CEO Vince Zampella were apparently dismissed on Monday by Activision following an investigation into what the company referred to in a SEC filing as "breaches of contract and insubordination by two senior employees at Infinity Ward".
Yes, you heard that right, the men running the development company responsible for the most successful video game ever have been sacked.
It now looks like the duo might have gotten themselves a killstreak 25 and unlocked a tactical nuke on Activision's ass with the news that West and Zampella are filing a legal suit for both compensation and the return of their contractual rights to the Call of Duty Modern Warfare franchise. The suit includes claims for breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, wrong termination in violation of public policy, and declaratory relief.
According to O'Melveny & Myers LLP acting for the pair, a lawsuit has been filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court against Activision Publishing. It says that Activision terminated their employment weeks before they were to be paid substantial royalty payments as part of their existing contracts for Modern Warfare 2.
"Activision has refused to honor the terms of its agreements and is intentionally flouting the fundamental public policy of this State (California) that employers must pay their employees what they have rightfully earned" said their attorney Robert Schwartz, adding "instead of thanking, lauding, or just plain paying Jason and Vince for giving Activision the most successful entertainment product ever offered to the public, last month Activision hired lawyers to conduct a pretextual 'investigation' into unstated and unsubstantiated charges of 'insubordination' and 'breach of fiduciary duty,' which then became the grounds for their termination on Monday, March 1st".
"We were shocked by Activision's decision to terminate our contract" said West, "we poured our heart and soul into that company, building not only a world class development studio, but assembling a team we've been proud to work with for nearly a decade. We think the work we've done speaks for itself".
Zampella added "after all we have given to Activision, we shouldn't have to sue to get paid".