Sources: Activision Withholding Royalties to Keep Infinity Ward Staff From Leaving

According to sources who have spoken to Kotaku, Infinity Ward’s employees are being withheld royalties owed to them by Activision-Blizzard for the billion-dollar plus sales of Modern Warfare 2.

The news comes on the heels of the forced removal of Jason West and Vince Zampella, the heads of Infinity Ward, for insubordination, a claim the pair have denied. Shortly after their dismissal, West and Zampella filed a suit against Activision seeking not only to gain the royalties they were never paid but also to maintain control over the Call of Duty franchise, which they created.

Given the fallout surrounding West and Zampella’s firing and the pair’s claims that on top of withholding royalties, Activision had fostered a bad work environment by stifling creative liberty at the studio, it has been surprising that there hasn’t been a mass exodus of employees from Infinity Ward. But now it appears that employees aren’t abandoning the studio because Activision has continued to withhold their royalty payments.

According to Kotaku, employees at Infinity Ward typically earn “low” and regular industry wages that are inflated by royalty payments in order to encourage a successful product launch. In other words, if the employees know a big bonus hinges on making a strong product that sells in droves, they will be more likely to dedicate themselves completely to making a superior product.

If the employees leave Infinity Ward before being paid their royalties, they won’t have an opportunity to receive the money from Modern Warfare 2. As a result, employees are essentially being forced to stay with the company in order to earn the paycheck they deserve.

Though this seems obvious given the situation, Kotaku also reports that morale at the studio is extremely low. To learn all the nitty-gritty about the lawsuit against Activision, check out our article that includes the full court document detailing the case.


Source: Kotaku