West and Zampella add fraud charges to Activision suit

Jason West and Vince Zampella have added two counts of fraud to their complaint against Activision, based on a Memorandum of Understanding that they say Activision had no intention of honoring.

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Jason West and Vince Zampella have added two counts of fraud to their complaint against Activision, GameSpot reports. The initial complaint was filed in March 2010, citing lost wages and royalties from their wildly popular Modern Warfare games after being fired from Infinity Ward.

The amended complaint alleges that Activision entered a Memorandum of Understanding with the pair, which was meant to secure their employment as the company prepared to merge with Vivendi. The claim states that the MOU was particularly important in securing the Vivendi deal, which gave West and Zampella bargaining power. It also laid out creative control, plus bonuses based on income from eligible games like Modern Warfare 2.

Activision included a stipulation that the increased control and bonuses were based on continued employment, which reportedly made West and Zampella skeptical. Bobby Kotick allegedly replied: "Don't worry about it. It's impossible for you guys to get fired." The pair claim that assurances like that convinced them not to push for different wording in the contract. Now they allege that Activision never intended to honor the contract.

"While paying lip-service to West's and Zampella's creative authority, in 2008 and thereafter, Activision began secret development of Modern Warfare and Call of Duty games and related products, and undertook other conduct in relation to these two videogame franchises that, under the MOU, required prior approval from West and Zampella," the complaint reads. "Activision did not inform West or Zampella of such plans or seek their input or approval for them. Indeed, while breaching the creative authority provisions of the MOU, Activision continued to pay lip-service to them, in an attempt to mask its secret development efforts."

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From The Chatty
  • reply
    April 4, 2011 2:45 PM

    Comment on West and Zampella add fraud charges to Activision suit, by Steve Watts.

    • reply
      April 4, 2011 2:57 PM

      Summary: Jason West and Vince Zampella have added two counts of fraud to their complaint against Activision, GameSpot reports. The initial complaint was filed in March 2010, citing lost wages and royalties from their wildly popular Modern Warfare games after being fired from Infinity Ward.

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        April 4, 2011 3:59 PM

        The summary is probably

        "Activision began secret development of Modern Warfare and Call of Duty games and related products, and undertook other conduct in relation to these two videogame franchises that, under the MOU, required prior approval from West and Zampella," the complaint reads. "Activision did not inform West or Zampella of such plans or seek their input or approval for them. Indeed, while breaching the creative authority provisions of the MOU, Activision continued to pay lip-service to them, in an attempt to mask its secret development efforts.""

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      April 4, 2011 3:25 PM

      Can't we just line up everyone involved against the wall?

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        April 4, 2011 3:26 PM

        re-enact the opening credit sequence of COD4?

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          April 4, 2011 4:14 PM

          Fifty people used to work here... now it's a ghost town.

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      April 4, 2011 3:27 PM

      i just want to play Brink....

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      April 4, 2011 4:49 PM

      An Activision-owned studio having creative control, that's a laugh. Ben Ward, former Bizarre Creations community manager, had this to say to Eurogamer last week:

      http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2011-03-29-hogrockets-ben-ward-on-bizarre-closure
      "Some of us (myself included) found it difficult working under a huge publisher; moving from proudly independent to an internal team took a lot of getting used to. We lost that ability to say what we want, do what we want, and (most importantly) make what we want. I don't blame Activision for that - it's just the way things work when you become internalised. It certainly affected the atmosphere at the studio; for better or worse Bizarre became more 'corporate'."

      Compare that to Activision's PR session panel at PAX East, with Dan Amrich, Eric Biessman of Raven, and a couple of other "owned but independent" studio heads: http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/33496/PAX_East_2011_Activision_Studio_Heads_Vouch_For_Owned_But_Independent_Model.php

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        April 4, 2011 4:59 PM

        Devs who actually believe they will keep their indie mindsets when being absorbed by a huge publisher are fucking naive.

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          April 4, 2011 5:09 PM

          As are people who believe MBAs ranting about a "sure thing" with "no risk".

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        April 4, 2011 10:34 PM

        Actually, I think they should blame Activision for that. I can understand when a publisher wants a say on this process considering they are the ones investing the money for a project, but at the same time, how about also trusting developers who have a good track record of making solid games that they know what they are doing.

        Honestly, I doubt Activision or EA will ever change unless they are down in the dumps.

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      April 4, 2011 5:19 PM

      I hope West and Zampella win. And then ActiVision fires Bobby.

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        April 4, 2011 9:10 PM

        Why is there no game with this exact plotline available yet?!?!?

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          April 4, 2011 10:52 PM

          Westicles and the Zampster: Escape from Booby's Krotchtick.

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      April 4, 2011 7:18 PM

      Seems like the gaming industry is getting to be a pretty volatile place to work these days. This is far from the first case of publishers screwing their creative talent for a percentage.

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        April 4, 2011 9:30 PM

        Maybe all of the evil publishers can destroy each other. That would be nice.

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        April 4, 2011 10:47 PM

        "getting to be"? it always has been. when you combine creative talent with rabid business oriented corporations there's bound to be some fallout from the hugely conflicting ideologies. if it's not forced, unpaid overtime it's loss of creative control or whatever.

        it's the same thing as the music industry. the only way out is for the creative types to adapt to a business savvy mindset - which is a helluva lot more likely than the suits actually, ya'know, producing something. just takes time.

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        April 5, 2011 5:34 PM

        these days? You do remember the days of Ion Storm right?

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      April 4, 2011 10:02 PM

      They sound like amateurs here.

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        April 5, 2011 4:03 AM

        Well, the contract negotiations seem like they could be boiled down to: 'Hey you wanna be our poster child for what a great deal internal studios get? There's only one catch, which we'll worry about after you just- yeah, sign right there... ok yeah that was all bullshit.'

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      April 5, 2011 4:09 AM

      If this went down like it says, then those two don't have a prayer. Good luck convincing someone in court you were fooled by the terms of the contract when you have already stated you questioned it before signing. Frankly, they were fucking idiots to have signed without amending that out of the contract or at least putting stipulations on termination.