Activision Claims Infinity Ward Delayed MW2 Map Pack as Favor to EA

By Steve Watts, Jan 20, 2011 4:00pm PST Activision has been allowed to add EA as a defendent in its $400 million countersuit against former Infinity Ward heads Jason West and Vince Zampella, as the company aims to prove they were planning to move to EA while under Activision contract. Gamasutra reports that newly revealed e-mails allegedly show Infinity Ward delayed a Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 map pack as a favor to EA.

The alleged e-mail came on March 3, 2010, the day after news broke of West and Zampella's dismissal. It was sent from EA senior director of global marketing Lincoln Hershberger, and titled "The Fall of IW?" Its recipients were several senior staff members at EA. Battlefield executive producer Karl-Magnuss Troedsson was copied on the e-mail.

"A couple months ago, I asked Vince [Zampella] to hold back their map pack. Until after we launched (he owes me one). Given that they've already made a billion, he was cool with that, obviously [Activision CEO Bobby] Kotick took it as being belligerent."

Activision claims the map pack was the Stimulus Package, which launched roughly a month after Battlefield Bad Company 2. But EA disputes the claim, claiming it was just a joke. "This was obviously sarcasm," said EA spokesman Jeff Brown. "It's clear from the e-mail this was a joke and they never spoke. We explained this to lawyers at Activision -- who apparently don't have much of a sense of humor."

This isn't the first time Activision has accused EA and the former Infinity Ward duo of conspiracy to sabotage Call of Duty, but the accusations are heating up as the company shows previously redacted e-mails. Other newly released exchanges allegedly show EA CEO John Riccitiello and COO John Schappert talking about meeting with West and Zampella as early as August 2009.

The claim could impact the proceedings, especially if Activision can convince the court that the e-mails weren't sent in jest. THQ head Danny Bilson recently commented that his company almost brokered a deal with Vince and Zampella, but said it fell apart due to IP ownership. If the duo was planning to move to EA from the start, it would stand to reason that the talks with THQ wouldn't have worked out regardless of intellectual property.

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  • I think the bigger story is this (from the Gamasutra article):

    A California Superior Court has allowed Activision to officially add Electronic Arts as a defendant in its $400 million cross-complaint against ex-Infinity Ward heads Jason West and Vince Zampella, according to court documents obtained by Gamasutra.

    I'm not a lawyer, but if EA is a defendant in this lawsuit now, does this mean that EA now has incentive to bring their legal team in to help on the defense? If so, that would seem like a case where Activision might be getting too greedy for their own good, as this case was apparently draining West and Zampella's personal funds:

    New documents obtained by Kotaku today allege that Activision knew of EA's alleged involvement in the case over six months beforehand, and that by waiting until December 2010 to amend the case sought to have the beginning of the trial - scheduled for May - pushed back.

    West and Zampella are protesting this expansion of the case and any possible delay, stating that the pair "are paying for this litigation from our own funds" and that to date the cost of the case has "[exceeded] our combined annual salaries".