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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