Lawsuit: Activision Created Modern Warfare "Police State"

Lawsuit: Activision Created Modern Warfare "Police State"

Guarded doors, secret interrogations and broken promises are just the latest allegations laid out in the ongoing saga about the break-up between the world’s largest game publisher and the people in charge of creating Modern Warfare 2.

Activision created a “police state”, conducted secret “interrogations” of employees and held $US54 million dollars hostage as they tried to threaten and cajole the team behind Modern Warfare 2 into making the next Modern Warfare game, according to an amended lawsuit filed in California today and obtained by Kotaku.

A group of nearly 40 past and present Infinity Ward developers banded together in April to file suit against the publishers of Modern Warfare 2 for half a billion dollars, alleging breach of contract and unpaid royalties.

An addendum to the suit filed today lays out what the former employees say happened to the bonus and royalties they were expecting. It also lowered what the group is asking from at most $US216 million in punitive damages and unpaid bonuses, down from half a billion.

In March, according to the suit, Activision paid 40 per cent of the Modern Warfare 2 bonus money to the team, but withheld the rest, demanding that Infinity Ward develop, produce, complete and publish Modern Warfare 3 by November 2011 to get the rest of the money.

The suit alleges that during the build up that led to the firing of West and Zampella, Activision forced Infinity Ward employees to submit to secret interrogations and told the employees not to tell anyone about them. The publisher also brought in security personnel to man the office exits, according to the suit.

Later that month, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick attending a meeting with Infinity Ward, promising them that they would receive their full bonus at the end of the month, but that never happened, according to the suit.

When a group of employees met with CFO Thomas Tippl in April to demand the bonus, according to the suit, Tippl responded, “Get over it.”

The suit says that had Activision not fired West and Zampella, withheld the bonus, created a hostile work place, not created a “police state-like atmosphere” they would have stayed on with the publisher.

A separate suit was filed by former Infinity Ward heads Jason West and Vince Zampella in March, seeking $US36 million unpaid royalties and alleging an “Orwellian”, “pre-ordained” investigation designed to “manufacture a basis to fire” the studio founders.

There will be a hearing in front of a judge on August 5 to see the trials of both suits against Activision will be consolidated into one trial. A trial date was set for May 23, two weeks before next year’s E3 is set to get underway.


  • West and Zampella… sue their asses off. Take these guys to the cleaners. Activision are the new ‘Old EA’. Every so often a games company gets too big for its boots and needs to be brought down to size. It happened to EA in a BIG way and now, it’s actually considered one of the best places to work and be published by in the business! Maybe this is what Activision needs, a good swift kick up the balls…

    • /agree

      EA is wicked now but i fear activision is a lost cause as long as activision/blizzard keep getting their stupid big monthly from that time-sink MMO

    • A logical fallacy; of COURSE all 40 people can be lying. But in this case, I don’t think they are. Are there no depths to which Activision will not sink?!

  • If even half of that is half true I hope the lawsuit not only costs Activision a whole lot of money, but also causes certain key staff that instigated this farce to resign/be terminated and for Activision to thoroughly review some of their policies.

    If this lawsuit sides with IW other developers undergoing similar treatment across the industry will realise they don’t have to put up with gestapo publishers.

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