Activision targets Electronic Arts in updated lawsuit

Activision's legal action against former Infinity Ward heads Vince Zampella and Jason West has gained further weight, with Electronic Arts officially added to the list of defendants in the $400m cross-complaint. The accusations against the Redwood software behemoth include a protracted campaign to lure Zampella and West away from their contractual commitments to Activision.

Attempts were made at the highest levels of EA, says Activision, to “disrupt and destroy Infinity Ward” – leveraging the losses to Infinity Ward's Call of Duty series into gains for EA's properties, such as floundering rival franchise, Medal of Honor.

The background

The case was initially brought as a countersuit to Zampella and West's March 2010 action against Activision for their sudden termination from Infinity Ward, a subsidiary of Activision. The pair alleged in court documents that Activision had conducted an “Orwellian” campaign of unexplained investigations (which is technically more “Kafkaesque” than “Orwellian,” but they were under some stress at the time).

Activision justified the investigation – which included demands for personal computers and cell phones to be handed over, and a six-hour interrogation session in a windowless room – with the oblique remark that the pair “already have a clear understanding of what they have or have not done.”

Collusion with EA

Above: Activision contends that EA hoped CoD's loss would be MoH's gain

The results of that investigation are now coming out in court, with Activision accusing EA of attempting to set up a new company made up of ex-Activision/Infinity Ward employees, draining the Call of Duty franchise of its key talent. EA flew West and Zampella to San Francisco for a meeting with their CEO, John Riccitiello, as part of “secret negotiations” toward the plan, at Riccitiello's home between West/Zampella, Electronic Arts and leading LA talent managers Creative Artists Agency.