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West and Zampella add fraud charges to Activision suit

Ownership of Modern Warfare brand could be split between publisher and ex-creatives

Former Infinity Ward execs Jason West and Vince Zampella have added fraud charges to their complaint against Activision.

The pair, who have started Respawn Entertainment since being fired by Activision, claim that the publisher never intended to honour promises of bonuses and creative control on the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare franchise.

According to the complaint, West and Zampella secured a contract with Infinity Ward through a Memorandum of Understanding with Activision.

"To protect its interest in consummating its merger with Vivendi Games, Activision needed to do everything it could to keep West and Zampella content with their responsibilities and compensation at Infinity Ward. This gave West and Zampella considerable bargaining power in their negotiations with Activision," reads the amended complaint, according to GameSpot.

The Memorandum of Understanding stated that West and Zampella must stay with Infinity Ward in order to receive control and bonuses, and Activision CEO Bobby Kotick had told the pair "don't worry about it. It's impossible for you guys to get fired."

But the complaint alleges that behind the scenes Activision had no intentions of honouring the contractual obligations.

"While paying lip-service to West's and Zampella's creative authority, in 2008 and thereafter, Activision began secret development of Modern Warfare and Call of Duty games and related products, and undertook other conduct in relation to these two video game franchises that, under the MOU, required prior approval from West and Zampella."

"Activision did not inform West or Zampella of such plans or seek their input or approval for them. Indeed, while breaching the creative authority provisions of the MOU, Activision continued to pay lip-service to them, in an attempt to mask its secret development efforts."

According to West and Zampella's lawyers, a rescission of the MOU could see West and Zampella co-owning the Modern Warfare brand, allowing them to release titles under the name.

West and Zampella are currently bringing a $36 million lawsuit against Activision, which in turn is suing the pair and new partners Electronic Arts for $400 million.

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Matt Martin


Matt Martin joined GamesIndustry in 2006 and was made editor of the site in 2008. With over ten years experience in journalism, he has written for multiple trade, consumer, contract and business-to-business publications in the games, retail and technology sectors.