Modern Warfare Creators Were Going To Make $16m Each In The Year They Were Fired

All manner of dirty laundry is currently being aired the ongoing ongoing lawsuit between Activision and Vince Zampella and Jason West, creators of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.

A series of internal Activision emails indicate the projected 2009 and 2010 earnings of the most well-paid 30 employees at Infinity Ward. In 2010, the year that West and Zampella were fired, both men were slated to make $US436,800 as a base salary and a whopping $US13 million bonus, which when combined with their vested equity put their total projected compensation at $US16.4 million apiece. Good gravy!

In the email attached to the spreadsheet above, Activision's Mike Griffith opines that while the spreadsheet indicated plenty of spare money to retain good employees, "we are paying way too many people way too much", and that "we need to find a way to put caps on our bonus payouts."

There's certainly no denying $US13 million is one hell of a bonus.

Internal Email, Exhibit 655 [Court document via James Stevenson]


Comments

    If the bonus is linearly proportional to the profitability of the released product, then you can never be in the position of not being able to afford or justify the bonus being given.

      To play the devil's advocate though, they probably have a larger team working on the games now. They might feel that with a larger bonus pool, it might make sense to spread the money around a bit more.

      I do mostly agree with you though: these numbers seem to indicate that Infinity Ward exceeded their expectations when creating the bonus scheme, which should be a good thing.

      haha, exactly. the only reason the bonuses are so high is because the game sold truckloads and made lots of money for them. management always freaks out about bonus schemes, even as they are going great guns because they think they could take that money and pump it straight into profit, making them look more awesome. also, @james i agree with you to some extent but i would say the main driver was taking the money out of that pool.

    My God! Is this how much game devs earn a year? Wow, if so that's a lot of money.

      Maybe ask Curt Schilling about that...

      go ask an indie developer or someone who is just entering the field how much they make ;)

      This is one of those rare cases. Most game dev's work long hours (no over time pay) and make very little

      @masha2932 The top two are basically managers. The highest development salary looks like $156,000.

      Ignoring the bonuses, it is quite possible to earn that much as a non-game dev but it is pretty decent. the average would be around the $100,000 mark. Suffice to say, I am more average than top. :P

    "In the email attached to the spreadsheet above, Activision’s Mike Griffith opines that while the spreadsheet indicated plenty of spare money to retain good employees, “we are paying way too many people way too much”, and that “we need to find a way to put caps on our bonus payouts.”"

    Clearly the solution was to fire those that were being paid way too much

    Instead of a bonus, I see it more as compensation for putting their name to each game that is worst than the last. CoD 4 was the last game they (IW) did properly.

      I'd happily put my name to this crap for 16 mil

    *Facepalms Himself* I should have taken that Animator's Job. :S

    im pretty sure they didnt want to pay the bonus, at least all up front because they believed the core team would take the money and go set up a competing company, or just retire etc. (which is what happened anyway..)

    Millionaires fighting against billionaires. Cant bring myself to care who wins.

    "A series of internal Activision emails indicate the projected 2009 and 2010 earnings of the most well-paid 30 employees at Infinity Ward"

    interesting considering the example only details 21 employees. It goes to Cell 30 which i assume is where you have pulled your number from.

    Made worse when you follow source link "The IW Royalty Pool compensation breakdown for Top 20 employees"

    How does one make such a fuck up

    All but two of the wages are in line with most established developers salaries. TBH it's less of a wage than you can earn in a mindless 'surfing' private sector IT job, sans bonus. But I guess the bonus is the sweetener. Mmmmm. So sweet.

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