Did The Creators Of Call Of Duty Delay A Map Pack To Help Out The Competition?

After months of finger-pointing and allegations, the company behind the massively popular Call of Duty series may have proof to support claims that one of their video games was sabotaged by its creators at the urging of a rival.

An internal email from a rival Electronic Arts executive, released today as part of a court filing, seems to boast about getting one of the developers of Modern Warfare 2 to delay add-ons for the game. A delay could have prevented the add-on from interfering with the release of the shooter's biggest competitor.

"A couple months ago, I asked Vince to hold back their map pack until after we launched. (He owes me one,) " starts the email written by the rival developer, apparently referring to Modern Warfare 2 developer Vince Zampella. "Given that they've already made a billion, he was cool with that, obviously (Activision CEO ) Kotick took it as being belligerent."

Reached for comment earlier today, Electronic Arts declined to comment for this story.

The email was written by Lincoln Hershberger, senior director of global marketing at Electronic Arts' DICE studio to a slew of other EA executives including Frank Gibeau, the company's head of EA Games. The note was dated March 2, the day DICE's Battlefield Bad Company 2 hit stores and 28 days before the "Stimulus Pack" map pack for Modern Warfare 2 went on sale for the Xbox 360.

The emails, unsealed in a court filing earlier this week, are part of an amended complaint by Activision that adds Electronic Arts to the lawsuit they originally filed against Jason West and Zampella. The two headed up Infinity Wards, Activision's studio behind Modern Warfare, before they were fired amid allegations of sabotage and insubordination.

The two counter-sued with their own allegations, calling the company Orwellian in its control of the studio and saying they were stiffed on bonus.

Other emails in the document, filed with the Los Angeles Superior Court on Wednesday, seem to show Electronic Arts actively pursuing West and Zampella as future employees. Under California law, the two could be in breach of their employment contract if they actively seek work with another company.

The unsealed emails include exchanges between executives at Electronic Arts discussing the hiring of the two, including requests for taking a more aggressive approach at bringing them over.

Background: The Modern Warfare Fight: Your Guide to Activision Vs. Infinity Ward


    ...I don't know how people, West and Zampella in this instance, can act so indignant when they've done comparable things - are they naive enough to think it won't come out?

    I don't think what they did here was all that bad. A small delay on the map pack (assuming it was relatively small and not say a couple of months) really has little to no effect on Activision or the map pack sales. Given the opportunity I'm sure Activision would have released it to co-incide with a competitors release in an attempt to overshadow or at least steal some of the attention from it. This in itself is a pretty under-handed tactic.

    I don't think what Zampella did is that bad, but the fact that he did it, and for a competitor will make him out to be very untrustworthy and duplicitous. I can't see him convincing someone that he is an innocent man, whether he is or isn't, after this gets out.

    Meh, the map packs cost US$15 and included previously created maps, AND it did still make millions. I have no sympathy for Activision.

    How can these executives be so far up the corporate ladder and not know that you don't put these sort of things in writing.

    Just wait - instead of 'Social Network' it'll be a film called 'War Game'

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