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West & Zampella talk Activision lawsuit and Project Icebreaker

Infinity Ward's founders detail the lengths Activision went to get dirt on them

Last week, a court filing was released detailing "Project Icebreaker", a campaign by Activision management to gather evidence against Infinity Ward founders Jason West and Vince Zampella. With the release of the documents, West, Zampella, and their lawyer Robert Schwartz are finally talking about the ordeal in an interview with GameInformer. The group threw water on Activision's claims that they tried to get themselves fired to jump to Electronic Arts.

"They said, 'He orchestrated his own firing' - I will never forget that," West told GameInformer's Andy McNamara. "I said, 'Don't give me 100 million dollars - fire me! That would be awesome.'"

"'Let me leave behind all the tech I've spent eight years working on, the 100 million dollars I've earned, the momentum in my career, my team, and let me start all over with a small team and development budget on a game I haven't even thought about that no one has seen or bought.' Yeah, that's a good idea," added Schwartz.

"It's especially crazy because they gave us the right to do a new IP. So there is nothing that we could have conceivably gained by not being [at Activision]," said West.

"I have a project for you from Bobby Kotick. Jason and Vince - you know those guys? We're really sick of them. We want to get rid of them"

The group also talked about the lengths Activision went to find evidence against West and Zampella. At the behest of Activision management, IT director Thomas Fenady did his best to crack Infinity Ward's servers to get at their email.

"So George Rose goes into the office of this guy named Thomas Fenady. He's some kind of IT whiz at Activision. He's sitting in his office and has no idea what is going to walk in his office. [Rose says], 'Hey, this comes right from the top. I have a project for you from [Activision Blizzard CEO] Bobby Kotick. Jason and Vince - you know those guys? We're really sick of them. We want to get rid of them; we want to fire them. You need to break into their computers and dig up dirt to be used to justify firing them.' [Fenady] testified to this," Schwartz explained.

"So he tries to break into the Infinity Ward server to read emails. He sees there is a firewall there, but he breaks through the firewall. He's now seeing their email server, but he can't make any sense out of it. So he calls Microsoft and says, 'Hey we have this Microsoft Exchange server out at Infinity Ward. Can you help us figure out how to break the password and read the emails?' Microsoft said, 'Do you have a court order? This makes us feel very uncomfortable.'"

"Then he goes to a vendor that does penetration testing called InGuardians and they said, 'Hmm, this sounds like some black bag operation, we'll help you but you have to give us an indemnity and a get out of jail free card against any criminal or civil liability.' Then, they realized they can't do anything unless they have physical access to the premises," Schwartz continued.

They allege that Activision then tried to fake a fire drill in order to gain physical access to Infinity Ward's servers. Schwartz mentions emails from within Activision talking about getting rid of the pair, 14 months before they were fired.

The allegations are absolutely shocking and if just half of them are true it paints a grim picture for Activision. The full interview over at GameInformer goes into further detail.

[Image via GameInformer]

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Mike Williams avatar
Mike Williams: M.H. Williams is new to the journalism game, but he's been a gamer since the NES first graced American shores. Third-person action-adventure games are his personal poison: Uncharted, Infamous, and Assassin's Creed just to name a few. If you see him around a convention, he's not hard to spot: Black guy, glasses, and a tie.
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