Back in 2010, when Activision let key Infinity Ward heads Jason West and Vince Zampella go, many hoped that they would be taking the Call of Duty franchise with them. Unfortunately, still tied to Activision, the Call of Duty brand stayed right where it was and has since seen some extremely profitable numbers.
Still, there remained some hope that amidst West and Zampella’s lawsuit with Activision that the two would be able to reacquire the franchise and bring that magic they instilled in Modern Warfare back to the series.
Commenting on this issue — as he is wont to do on numerous occasions — analyst and licensed lawyer Michael Pachter says that West and Zampella unfortunately will never be able to reacquire the Call of Duty brand as they were merely employees working on Activision’s property.
When West and Zampella were working for Infinity Ward they may have been granted creative control, but that does not imply ownership of the brand. If creative control is established by the court case, West and Zampella could be looking at reasonable compensation, but as Pachter puts it, “[They] have no prayer of obtaining control of the brand.”
It is disheartening to see two creative people lose control of the series they helped make the juggernaut is today, but West and Zampella were at the whim of Activision. Terminating their employment eliminated that creative control over the property and any entitlement to the brand. Now it’s in the hands of Activision, with employment at Activision being the only way for West and Zampella to work on Call of Duty again.
“If they want their old jobs back, they can ask for them, but they didn’t do so. Instead, they are blending the two concepts of legal and equitable remedies, asking for damages and asking for control over the Call of Duty brand, but not asking to be reinstated as employees. The law just doesn’t allow stuff like that, as it would be unreasonable to require Activision to grant control over its valuable property to unrelated third parties.”
Infinity Ward, minus West, Zampella, and other key creative people, is still moving forward with their next Call of Duty title as if no lawsuit exists. The developer is experiencing bumps on the road, but those are more likely due to stresses placed by Activision to deliver a yearly Call of Duty.
Though they might not be getting Call of Duty back, we do hope that West and Zampella can turn Respawn Entertainment into just as successful a developer as Infinity Ward.
Do you think, in the long run, that the Call of Duty brand will survive without West and Zampella? What do you hope to see Respawn Entertainment bring us in the future?
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Source: Industry Gamers