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Zampella and West file lawsuit against Activision

Duo make expected claim over unpaid royalties; West "shocked" at termination by Call of Duty publisher

Activision has been hit with a lawsuit by ex-Infinity Ward duo Jason West and Vince Zampella over "substantial royalty payments" as part of their contracts for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.

The pair were sacked this week from the company they helped found in 2001, as Activision reshuffled staff and studios for its most successful console franchise, with the publisher claiming Zampella and West were guilty of insubordination.

"Activision has refused to honour 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. 

"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 1."

The lawsuit includes claims for breaching contracts and the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, wrong termination and in violation of public policy, and declaratory relief.

"We were shocked by Activision's decision to terminate our contract," commented 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." 

"After all we have given to Activision, we shouldn't have to sue to get paid," added Zampella.

The suit states that Infinity Ward had the right to create games based on the Modern Warfare brand, but this has since reverted to Activision.

"Activision seized control of the Infinity Ward studio, to which Activision had previously granted creative control over all Modern Warfare-branded games. The suit was filed to vindicate the rights of West and Zampella to be paid the compensation they have earned, as well as the contractual rights Activision granted to West and Zampella to control Modern Warfare-branded games."

The Call of Duty franchise has generated over $3 billion in sales for Activision. There are at least three titles in the series under development, at Sledgehammer Games, Infinity Ward and Treyarch.

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Matt Martin avatar
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.
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