The legal battle between Activision and the group of former Infinity Ward developers led by Jason West and Vince Zampella is set to begin soon, but the publisher has already paid a sizable amount of money to some of the defendants.
The $42 million paid is not part of any settlement, only back-pay and bonuses owed. But the attorney for the dismissed developers sees the payment as an admission that the defendants are in the right, and that the publisher’s actions continue to be, in a word, “outrageous.”
This follows soon after speculation that the future setting of Black Ops 2 could be a breach of the agreement made between Infinity Ward and Activision, but the ongoing battle of words and attorneys is nothing new. Activision is sticking to their story that then-studio heads West and Zampella acted in bad faith and violation of their contracts, and are not entitled to bonuses and profits from the release of Modern Warfare 2.
West and Zampella’s founding of Respawn Entertainment gave the developers a new start, and plenty of talent followed their lead in leaving IW. Activision has included many of these former employees in their lawsuit, collectively referred to as the Infinity Ward Employee Group (IWEG), numbering close to 40 individuals.
According to The Verge, the lawsuit got a whole lot more interesting on Monday as Activision’s initial findings failed to implicate all members of the IWEG, prompting them to pay $42 million to the group’s attorneys. When reached for comment, the group’s attorney, Bruce Isaacs, confirmed that the payment has been made, but characterized the act as an attempt by Activision to save face before the trial officially begins.
Isaacs went even further in his attacks on Activision – obviously following his clients’ lead – and argues that this concession is a sign of the truth behind the case:
“I can confirm for you that it happened today… I can also tell you that although it is a meaningful payment it is only a small portion of what we are seeking in litigation. It is outrageous that they made us wait, they obviously knew they owed the money and this just shows that they breached the contract.”
With salary, bonuses and damages all tallied the IWEG is seeking an amount much closer to the $100 million mark so this payment won’t be slowing the court proceedings. In fact, Isaacs explained that the payment wasn’t a form of settlement, but a result of Activision effectively failing to find grounds for denying the group’s members the money they claimed to be owed. While a victory for the wronged developers, this payment does not impact the accusations made of both West and Zampella.
While the legal festivities surrounding the case are far from over, this can be seen as a small victory for the former Infinity Ward team members who claimed to be denied pay for the actions of two individuals. Whether Activision will be ordered to pay even more remains to be seen.
We’ll keep you up to date as the court case proceeds. For now, do you think that this payment is a sign that Activision may be coming around on their position, or do you agree with Isaacs that this is all just petty posturing?
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Source: The Verge