Sacked Call of Duty Makers Sue Activision over Royalties and Brand Rights

By Alice O'Connor, Mar 04, 2010 5:57am PST Update: Activision has fired back with a statement of its own, in which the publisher dismisses the duo's claims as "meritless."

Original: Infinity Ward co-founders Jason West and Vince Zampella have filed a lawsuit against Activision after the pair were fired from the Call of Duty developer on Monday, accused by the video games leviathan and studio owner of "breaches of contract and insubordination."

"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," asserts a press release issued by the pair's lawyers, which claims that they were to receive "substantial royalty payments" in a matter of weeks "as part of their existing contracts for Modern Warfare 2" before being fired.

"We were shocked by Activision's decision to terminate our contract," said West in a press statement. "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 pair's lawsuit 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."

Activision purchased Infinity Ward in October 2003 following the release of its first game Call of Duty, which went on to spawn countless sequels including several from fellow Activision subsidiary Treyarch. The most recent, Modern Warfare 2, was released on November, 2009, in what was declared "the biggest launch in history across all forms of entertainment" by Activision, having raked in $550 million US in sales worldwide within the first five days of sale alone and over $1 billion as of January 13.

The day after the pair were given the boot, Activision announced that it intended to "expand the Call of Duty brand with the same focus seen in its Blizzard Entertainment business" with "new geographies, new genres and with new digital business models."

Activision also revealed that newly-minted studio Sledgehammer Games will be joining IW and Treyarch in developing for the franchise with an "action-adventure" title.

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