Activision, publishers of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, are being sued by “a significant portion of the members of the creative team” that is Infinity Ward, the now legendery creators of the two Modern Warfare games.
This group, calling themselves the Infinity Ward Employee Group (IWEG), is suing Activision for breach of contract and failing to pay due bonuses amongst other things.
Of course, this is hitting after a large number of Infinity Ward employee’s quit the company after the shock sacking of Vince Zampella and Jason West.
It’s now been confirmed that a total of 26 Infinity Ward employees have left, along with the shocking news that CEO and President of Activsion, Mike Griffith, has also resigned.
IWEG are claiming that Activision did not pay the entirety of the royalties due to the staff after the absurd success of Modern Warfare 2.
Activision payed out $28 million, but as of the end of 2009 they still own another $54 million as well as other bonuses for the first quarter of 2010.
IWEG are also aiming to claim another $75 to $500 million in punitive damages as well.
That sum pertains to:
– Unpaid bonuses from 2009 and 2010 sales generated by Modern Warfare 2 – fourth quarter 2009 and first quarter 2010, specifically.
– Bonuses “due and owing to them” past first quarter 2010.
– “Bonus/royalty/profit participation” related to “technology/engine” royalties, “other special performance bonuses,” “other studio bonuses” or “any other bonus/royalty/profit participation.”‘
– Lost value on “restricted stock units” that Activision “promised” would vest (read: own it in your own name and purchase it from Activision) when Modern Warfare 2 sales eclipsed Modern Warfare 1, which “has long ago occurred.”
– Money owed as it relates to Modern Warfare 2 “sister games, including but not limited to” the oft-mentioned Modern Warfare 3, “if Modern Warfare 3 is ultimately delivered and marketed.”
– Interest rates related to the above sums of money.
Activision had this to say: “Activision believes the action is without merit. Activision retains the discretion to determine the amount and the schedule of bonus payments for MW2 and has acted consistent with its rights and the law at all times. We look forward to getting judicial confirmation that our position is right.”
So what does this mean? well many formers Infinity Ward members have now formed a brand new studio, named Respawn and will no doubt be working on a new project.
But of course the main question on everyones lips is what does this mean for the Call of Duty series of games and will Infinity Ward continue to exist?
Rumour suggests that Infinity Ward will be shut down after the second map pack for Modern Warfare 2 is released, with Janco Partners analyst Mike Hickey saying:
“Continued defections from their Infinity Ward studio have created meaningful uncertainty around the future of their Call of Duty: Modern Warfare franchise”
“We expect Infinity Ward studio will be essentially closed after their next map pack release, with development work on Modern Warfare 3 spread between two studios not historically tied to the franchise.”
This may be referring to Treyarch, who have already worked on Call of Duty titles and Sledgehammer, who have been enlisted for future titles.
However neither of these studios have worked on the now legendery Modern Warfare series of games.
This is just speculation, however no matter what, it’s not looking good for Infinity Ward.