Yesterday, Activision accused rival games giant EA of all sort of skullduggery while suing them for $US400 million for allegedly trying to “hijack” the Call of Duty franchise. Today, EA fired back.
“This is a PR play filled with pettiness and deliberate misdirection,” EA’s head of communications Jeff Brown told Kotaku. “Activision wants to hide the fact that they have no credible response to the claim of two artists who were fired and now just want to get paid for their work.”
The two artists to whom Brown referred are Jason West and Vince Zampella, co-founders of Infinity Ward, and therefore the lead men behind the team the invented the hit Call of Duty series. Both were fired by Activision in March for alleged acts of “insubordination” and subsequently formed a new company, Respawn Entertainment, that is making its first game for EA.
Activision’s accusations against EA filled a legal document filed in California yesterday that the publisher hopes will add EA to its counter-suit against West an Zampella, who have sued Activision over their firing. In the filing, Activision reprinted e-mails involving EA and Hollywood agents which the Call of Duty publisher contends prove that EA was wilfully trying to tamper with Call of Duty and Activision-contracted employees. Named in the filing are EA’s top two executives, John Ricccitiello and John Schappert, who are said to have participated in a clandestine effort to steal West and Zampella away while harming the CoD franchise.
EA’s Brown declined to specifically address the accusations from Activision about what it claims EA and its top executives did, referring us to his original statement when asked about those matters.
Yesterday, West and Zampella’s lawyers called Activision’s filing “a pathetic mash-up of false and reckless assertions.”
The battle between Activison, the Call of Duty creators and now EA will continue into 2011. Its effects on the games we play is unknown, though it certainly seems that West and Zampella’s work at Respawn could be disrupted if Activision’s take on events holds sway with the courts.
For a recap of the latest events in the imbroglio involving Activision, Infinity Ward, West, Zampella and now EA, check out Kotaku’s ongoing Call of Duty Legal Warfare coverage.