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Activision: Ex-Infinity Ward men wouldn't let us pay staff, tried to crush poor old Treyarch, eat kittens on toast

As you probably remember, the ex-Infinity Ward men - now at new studio Respawn Entertainment, under EA - are suing Activision. They're saying that previous to firing them. Activision deliberately withheld staff bonuses in order to bribe Infinity Ward staff to stay onboard.

*boo! hiss!*

As of today though, Activision is pulling an argument of "But they made us do it!". claiming thatthe IW men tried to "crush" rival Call of Duty dev Treyarch, and that Activision itself only didn't pay the bonuses because West and Zampella wouldn't let them. And it only gets juicier.

According to Acitivision's countersuit, which attempts to screw West, Zampella and EA for $400 million, EA boss John Riccitiello had the previous IW bosses secretly flown to his house to make ship-jumping plans in August 2009. Following said meeting, West and Zampella allegedly got a strong case of last-day-of-school syndrome and started insubordinating all over the place.

Most fun example? According to Activision, they deliberately tried to sabotageCall of Dutyrival Treyarch's efforts with the franchise. At one point, Infinity Ward released a Modern Warfare 2 promo video on the same day that Treyarch did the same for World at War's DLC. West claims this happened through lack of communication on Treyarch's part, but the countersuit claims a text message conversation had West instruct IW colleagues to "Crush and destroy with our video". Whether he was holding a small globe in a vice-like grip and doing a big M. Bison laugh is currently unknown.

Above: He's only smiling on the outside. Not paying people makes him sad

And those unpaid Infinity Ward bonuses? Apparently West and Zampella wouldn't let Activision pay them. According to Team Kotick, it really wanted to get the money to its "many valued employees", but West and Zampella withheld the details of the recipients, attempting to claim Infinity Wards' bonus pool for themselves. Activision claims this wasn't merely an act of greed, but a calculated attempt to dissuade Infinity Ward employees from remaining loyal to Activision by creating bad blood between developer and publisher.

It might sound like the desperate ravings of a paranoid madman (was Activision really so clueless as to who it employed that it couldn't get some bonuses through without West and Zampella's guidance?), but I suppose such a Machiavellian scheme is no more contrived than the plot of Infinity Ward's Modern Warfare 2. So there is precedent here, of a fashion.

What do you reckon? Think Activision has a chance of pulling this off when the case goes to court next May?


Long-time GR+ writer Dave has been gaming with immense dedication ever since he failed dismally at some '80s arcade racer on a childhood day at the seaside (due to being too small to reach the controls without help). These days he's an enigmatic blend of beard-stroking narrative discussion and hard-hitting Psycho Crushers.