May 23rd 2011. Mark it in your diaries folks, because that’s the day the lawsuit involving Activision and Respawn Entertainment‘s founders Jason West and Vince Zampella finally goes to trial. According to Robert Schwartz, attorney for West and Zampella, this trial will include just two of the three lawsuits that are currently filed against Activision. We’ll have to wait until August 5th 2010 to see if the third lawsuit (detailed below) will also be included in next year’s hearing.
In April earlier this year, a group of employees from Infinity Ward filed a lawsuit against Activision asking for half a billion dollars, alleging breach of contract and unpaid royalties. According to the Infinity Ward group, Activision paid out 40% of the royalties for Modern Warfare 2, but held back the other 60%, demanding that Infinity Ward complete work on Modern Warfare 3 in time for a November 2011 release. Only after the third game had been released would they pay out the rest, according to the lawsuit. As we reported earlier this year, actions like that would certainly give the implication that Activision is evil.
Late last week, the lawsuit was amended, with the group now asking for only $214 million. The claims of ‘secret interrogations’ and armed personnel being brought in to intimidate Infinity Ward staff still stand, however. If August 5th rolls around and the judge decides that both suits (ie. The West/Zampella suit and the Infinity Ward group suit) are similar enough to be put forward as one hearing, then May 23rd 2010 is going to be an enormously uncomfortable day for Bobby Kotick and crew.
In the interest of fairness, it should be mentioned that Bobby Kotick did state his thoughts on the situation at a recent Activision earnings call. Kotick claimed to be ‘disappointed’ by West and Zampella’s actions and stated that he considered them both to be ‘friends’, but stood firm in his belief that his actions were an act of “pursuing the difficult right rather than the easier wrong.”
I honestly don’t know what to make of the entire situation. In some ways, it seems almost ludicrous that such a situation has been allowed to occur. Thankfully, I guess, by the time E3 2011 rolls around next year, the whole debacle should be taken care of, and we’ll be able to see apparent Halo-killer that Respawn has been working on.
What do you think of the whole situation? Are you looking forward to seeing the results of the trial? Let us know in the comments below.