Infinity Ward Staffers Sue Activision For $500 Million

According to documents obtained by G4 TV, a group of 38 current and former Infinity Ward staff members are suing Activision for breach of contract. The suit against the company, which published Modern Warfare 2 and the Call of Duty series produced by Infinity Ward alleges that Activision breached their contracts by refusing to pay royalties owed to the developers.

The suit alleges that payments were intentionally withheld in order to keep the staff on hand, developing Modern Warfare 3.

“In short, Activision withheld the property of the IWEG in an attempt to keep the employees hostage so that Activision could reap the benefit of the completion of Modern Warfare 3.”

The suit will seek compensation not only for Modern Warfare 2 but for the yet-to-be-released and tenuously in development Modern Warfare 3. According to the lawsuit, the employees are seeking the half-billion dollars in unpaid bonuses, profit sharing, royalties and future profits from Modern Warfare 3. In addition the suit is seeking punitive damages.

Activision says that the suit has no merit. Speaking with Kotaku they said, “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 right and the law at all times. We look forward to getting judicial confirmation that our position is right.

At this point, with staffers still abandoning the Infinity Ward ship and with a lawsuit emerging that includes both current and former staff, Activision is in a tough position. Not only will new employees be wary of working for Infinity Ward as Activision tries to replace staffers who have left, but the company may have problems recruiting other development studios to come under their wings. While EA has offered Respawn Entertainment complete control over the IPs as well as free reign to create what they would like to create, Activision has been accused of withholding royalty payments and forcing the staff to make a new Modern Warfare game. West and Zampella, the co-founders of Infinity Ward who were fired last month, left for numerous reasons, but a large reason was their inability to create a new IP thanks to Activision’s insistence on continuing to churn out Call of Duty titles.

Will Activision recover from the huge blight upon their record? Word is coming in this morning that Activision’s CEO Mike Griffith has resigned which could very well be a result of failing to stop the outflow of staff members from Infinity Ward. It will be interesting to see these lawsuits come to fruition. Who will the law side with and what will happen if Activision loses control of Call of Duty? We’ll be keeping our eyes and ears to the ground to see what else we can find out about this legal mess.

Source: Kotaku