December 22, 2010

Activision Adds EA To Call of Duty Lawsuit

Call of Duty publishers Activision Blizzard Inc. filed documents in a California court Tuesday, seeking to have rival game publisher Electronic Arts (EA) added to a lawsuit related to the popular video game series and requesting a total of $400 million in damages.

The complaint, filed in a Los Angeles County Superior Court, is the latest move in the legal battle between the Santa Monica, California-based company and former executives Jason West and Vincent Zampella. West and Zampella were key figures with Infinity Ward, the company that developed popular series titles such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, before their dismissal in March of this year.

Activision, which is a subsidiary of the French company Vivendi SA, reportedly fired West and Zampella due to breach of contract and insubordination. The two men then formed an independent game development firm, Respawn Entertainment, and signed a lucrative deal with EA.

West and Zampella are suing Activision for $36 million, claiming that their former employers fired them to avoid paying royalties for their work on the Call of Duty games. Activision's countersuit alleges that EA began attempting to woo the developers several months before their termination, in July 2009, when both West and Zampella had two years left on their deals with Activision.

According to the Associated Press, Activision "alleges EA dispatched a private jet to Southern California to shuttle West and Zampella to a secret meeting at the home of EA's chief executive John Riccitiello near San Francisco in August 2009."

"In the complaint, Activision alleges that EA intentionally interfered with contracts, engaged in unfair competition and aided and abetted breaches of fiduciary duty by the executives," the news agency added, noting that Respawn Entertainment hired more than 40 Activision employees away in the process.

As a result, "Activision has suffered damages measured not in the millions, but hundreds of millions of dollars," company representatives claimed in Tuesday's filing, according to Reuters reports.


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