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Infinity Ward Employee Group sues Activision for a half billion dollars

April 27, 2010

Just when it seemed to have devolved to more people leaving Infinite Ward, someone goes and throws napalm on the proverbial oil spill at Activision.

According to a lawsuit discovered by G4, a group of 38 former and current employees at Infinity Ward, simply calling themselves the “Infinity Ward Employee Group”, are suing Activision under allegations of breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing and violation of California labor code amongst other things.

The group is seeking “to recover between $75 million and $125 million, if not more, in compensatory damages.” The group is also asking for another $75 to $500 million in “punitive damages.”

“Activision has withheld most of the money to force many of my people to stay, some against their will, so that they would finish the delivery of Modern Warfare 3,” said Bruce Isaacs, one of the group’s attorneys. “That is not what they wanted to do. Many of them. My clients’ entitled to their money. Activision has no right to withhold their money — our money.”

According to the lawsuit, the group from Infinity Ward filing the suit contains “a significant portion of the members of the creative team” who “designed, developed and delivered” Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 to Activision.

While they allege that $28 million has been delivered to employees for bonuses related to Modern Warfare 2, at least a further $54 million is still due from 2009 profits alone.

But the amount the group is seeking is greater than that figure, with aims “to recover between $75 million and $125 million, if not more, in compensatory damages.”

That number’s derived from:

  • Unpaid bonuses from 2009 and 2010 sales generated by Modern Warfare 2 — fourth quarter 2009 and first quarter 2010, specifically.
  • Bonuses “due and owing to them” past first quarter 2010.
  • “Bonus/royalty/profit participation” related to “technology/engine” royalties, “other special performance bonuses,” “other studio bonuses” or “any other bonus/royalty/profit participation.”‘
  • Value lost on “restricted stock units” that Activision “promised” would vest (which is “legalese” that means it would be owned in the employee’s name, purchasing it from Activision) when Modern Warfare 2 sales eclipsed Modern Warfare 1, which “has long ago occurred.”
  • Money owed as it relates to Modern Warfare 2 “sister games, including but not limited to” the oft-mentioned Modern Warfare 3, “if Modern Warfare 3 is ultimately delivered and marketed.”
  • Interest rates related to the above sums of money.

Activision released a response to the lawsuit, saying:

“Activision believes the action is without merit. Activision retains the discretion to determine the amount and the schedule of bonus payments for MW2 and has acted consistent with its rights and the law at all times. We look forward to getting judicial confirmation that our position is right.”

With all the fallout of Infinity Ward since Vince Zampella and Jason West were future endeavored from Infinity Ward, their ensuing lawsuit against the developer, and several staff members leaving on their own path or to join Zampella and West’s new company Respawn Entertainment, this was inevitable

We’ll keep you posted as the lawsuit heads to trial.

[Via G4]

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2 Comments leave one →
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