EA added to Activision's Zampella/West suit

Battlefield publisher now co-defendant in $400 million cross-complaint; rival contends newly unsealed documents point to conspiracy--including delay of Modern Warfare 2 map pack.

In late December, Activision announced it was seeking to add Electronic Arts as a co-defendant to its countersuit against former Infinity Ward heads Vince Zampella and Jason West. According to a copy of the cross-complaint provided by the Call of Duty publisher, EA tampered with West and Zampella, inducing the pair to break their existing contracts with Activision so their new studio, Respawn Entertainment, could sign with EA Partners. Activision is asking for $400 million in damages as a result.

EA is now a co-defendant in the West/Zampella/Activision lawsuit.

Today, Activision informed GameSpot that the court has granted its request to add EA as a co-defendant for the trial, which begins on May 23. The publisher's attorney also contended that several unsealed documents that were previously redacted point to a conspiracy by EA to disrupt and tamper with Infinity Ward employees under contract--including West and Zampella.

The amended, unsealed cross-complaint accuses EA of maintaining a list of Infinity Ward prospects, including Jason West and "dozens" of other Infinity Ward employees, for internal discussions "on recruiting from Activision (Infinity Ward)" on August 5, 2009. The following day, EA CEO John Riccitiello allegedly met with Creative Artist Agency's Seamus Blackley to "enlist CAA's assistance in courting West and Zampella…and interfering with West and Zampella's contracts with Activision."

That was allegedly followed by a weeks-long wooing of West and Zampella by Blackley and EA, as was made public by the previous, redacted version of the cross-complaint. In late August 2009, "West and [EA COO John] Schappert had a direct exchange in which they acknowledged CAA was 'working to set up a meeting' among West, Zampella, Schappert, and Riccitiello."

According to the unredacted version of the complaint, on August 25, 2009, Schappert e-mailed Riccitiello saying, "FYI though looks like Seamus has it in hand and Vince/Jason are aligned which is good." Riccitiello replied, "Excellent, you should meet them separate and join me. More angles is good."

On August 28, 2009, EA sent a private jet to fly West and Zampella to San Francisco, where they met Riccitiello at his home. The pair later admitted they told EA they had over two years left on their exclusive contracts with Activision.

Activision also contends that CAA then arranged for the pair to be represented by Harold Brown, an attorney and former member of Activision's board. For the next several months and into winter 2009, Activision alleges that West and Zampella spoke with CAA agents weekly.

During the second week of November 2009, an EA executive reportedly informed Brown that he was meeting to "discuss deal structures" and would "get with" Brown later in the week. Days later, an e-mail from Blackley to Riccitiello included in the complaint said, "We need to talk about our two friends down here--all is good but it's time for a more aggressive approach."

Two weeks later, according to another e-mail included in the complaint, vice president of EA Partners Sinjin Bain sent out an e-mail to EA Games president Frank Gibeau, director of business development Daniel Sherman, and EA Partners vice president David De Martini with a subject line "meeting action items…" One such item is "IW - Dan will send out email to JR with term sheet for JR to approve Joel to forward to Harold Brown."

Another e-mail included in the complaint was sent out by EA's executive vice president of legal and business affairs Joel Linzner to Harold Brown with the subject "NewCo Terms" saying, "Attached is a form of term sheet for a proposed dev/pub deal for your clients ('NewCo') to consider assuming they are free of any contractual commitments on their services and the IP they would develop under the deal."

According to another e-mail included in the document, senior director of global marketing at EA DICE Lincoln Hershberger sent out an e-mail to Gibeau, senior vice president of marketing at Electronic Arts Jeff Karp, EALA general manager Sean Decker, and EA Europe senior vice president Patrick Soderlund that said the following:

"A couple months ago, I asked Vince to hold back their map pack until after we launched (he owes me one). Given that they've already made a billion, he was cool with that, obviously Kotick took it as being belligerent."

Activision's lawyers contend that the e-mail is proof that EA was interfering with the release of the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 map pack, trying to postpone it until the release of Battlefield: Bad Company 2. On this last point, though, EA's vice president of communications, Jeff Brown, has a completely different take.

"This was obviously sarcasm," he told GameSpot. "It's clear from the email this was a joke and they never spoke. We explained this to lawyers at Activision--who apparently don't have much of a sense of humor." EA declined to comment on any other aspect of the complaint, however.

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Discussion

288 comments
STRIFE9288
STRIFE9288

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blancobo
blancobo

@CyberKlown28 You need to know a bit more about Activision game developers. Activision franchise: Call of Duty. Developers: Treyarch, and Infinity Ward (and now Sldegehammer). Reviewing since 2006 (one game per year): CoDIII (Treyarch-Developed), 2007MW(IW-Developed), 2008CoD WaW(Treyarch-Developed), 2009MWII (IW-Developed), 2010CoD Black Ops (Treyarch-Developed). Each developer has two years to make the game. CoD III (pretty darn long game), MW (short), CoD WaW (long game), MWII (shorter than MWI), Black Ops (shorter than MW II). Games with outstanding online elements: MW, MWII, BO. Activision/Treyarch recognized that the campaign could be as short as hell since IW presented and established an inmense online community since MWI. This is why Black Ops is SO similar in flow to MW II and MW I. It's a formula that sells billions regardless if the game is "that"great.

night-dreamers
night-dreamers

@Gelugon_baat You see I don't care who wins this or not but I should point out to you that EA have been doing really good in releasing great game for the past few years, and Activision is living off of a franchise that they're only tweaking for a little bit and put a new campain and call it "a new CoD", EA does not deserve to lose in this nor does Activision deserve to win. Whatever happens I just want kodick out of the gaming industry and stop sabotaging it.

night-dreamers
night-dreamers

@the_guard I completely agree with you, you see I know these people that exagerate car accedents injuries to gain money from lawsuits. This flawed system needs lacks and defies every human logic, it's just disgusting how they can stoop so low to get money:?.

night-dreamers
night-dreamers

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STRIFE9288
STRIFE9288

@killzonexbox obviously they were offered an amazing deal on top of still being able to own their IPs and IPs they make in the future. All activision is there for is for distribution. Like the EA partners program..... @CyberKlown28 perfect example of distributers not telling developers what to do since EA told Valve to make left4ead on the ps3 to, and valve told them no and that if they want it on the ps3 they can make it themselves.

erwinrommel123
erwinrommel123

'West and Zampella, inducing the pair to break their existing contracts with Activision' Didn't Activision sack them?

SIDEFX1
SIDEFX1

It sux's these two monster company's are going head to head..

Chizaqui
Chizaqui

yeah, take down activision!

STRIFE9288
STRIFE9288

@CyberKlown28 right, so why would activision have say in when a game, THAT THEY DON"T OWN, will or will not be released?? Your basicaly saying they do own them if they have say over the developers. it takes years to make other games because they actually add more features, why do you think Black ops was released 2 years after MW2. People don't like vehicles in FPS?? yea thats why Halo, and BATTLEFIELD sold horribly and are no longer being played online, yea your right. -__- smdh. you need to start speaking for yourself.

KuRf
KuRf

@hannify u were sayin about lawyers...they're all be in the new FPS

super600
super600

CyberKlown28 Do you think the evidence provided by Activision is legit. They probably just made a fake lawsuit paper for all we know to illegally punish the duo as seen by their attempt to move the court date and what they have done to the customers,other publishers and the people that develop games for them for the last five years.

CyberKlown28
CyberKlown28

I stated Activision doesn't make call of duty. Not "not owns" No arguement here. Evidence seen in the courts show that Activision did get scammed by these guys. Activision gives the fans what they want, a new Call of Duty every year. While it takes years for Battlefield games to come out. And its a fps, we don't like vehicles, kthnx, dice.

STRIFE9288
STRIFE9288

@CyberKlown28 and they actually do own call of duty, why do you think they can switch developers whenever. and yea they do own guitar hero since harmonix was the original developer but was bought out by mtv, and yet guitar hero stayed with activision. Hence, they made sure to buy it before anything else.

STRIFE9288
STRIFE9288

p.s: or maybe you reported them because my comments were to much fact to your fiction?? have fun with these ones.

STRIFE9288
STRIFE9288

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Zerabp
Zerabp

A lot of people have been asking if EA lured them away from their contracts why did they go to THQ as well. Uhh because THQ was doing the same thing but wasn't willing to let them keep their IPs so the deal fell through the point is this weakens West/Zampella's case because they were still looking to get out of their contractual obligations. I wouldn't be surprised if after going through the evidence THQ just out a target on it's back for a very litigious Activision under Kotick. I hate to say it but if they don't settle this out of court it will hurt the gaming industry both on the development and publishing side of things.

BigJohnWV
BigJohnWV

All I hear is "Waaah, we don't like competition. Waaah, we can't stand you have a better game". Seriously Activision thought that EA was trying to delay their map pack so it won't compete with BC2....has Activision even played BC2? Perhaps they have and that is why their suing, they afraid of actual competition.

KuRf
KuRf

@hannify a chance to play a role in their new FPS game mate...thats why...everyone wants to be famous nowadays

CyberKlown28
CyberKlown28

@strife 9288 Activision doesn't make Call of Duty/Guitar Hero either. Publisher is the one who sets release dates, tells developers to get to work on a sequel, etc. At least they do when developers/publishers are in cahoots. Blizzard and Activision are. :) Activision wins. Flawless Victory. *dundundun* Fatality.

CamoBullo
CamoBullo

Why can't Activision just go away?

killzonexbox
killzonexbox

I don't know why Blizzard is feeling with this evil company corporate, are they drunk or something when they sign the agreement? The same as Bungie, what the hell wrong with Bungie to work with a evil Activision?

STRIFE9288
STRIFE9288

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STRIFE9288
STRIFE9288

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

lamprey263
lamprey263

I'm surprised EA had no other responses considering those other emails and accusations in Activision's counter-suit.

super600
super600

CyberKlown28 The music games died on their own, but Activision fueled their death by releasing 5 guitar hero games in 2009 and how they always didn't try to make other games instruments work with their games.Tony Hawk died because of the yearly releases and how Activision handed the game to a horrible devthat used a horrible broken gimmick.

CyberKlown28
CyberKlown28

Darn you Activision! Milking your franchises by having sequels out quickly! I only had ten years to play the first starcraft! Darn you, Kotick!!! Over ten years, and diablo 3 in on the way? OHEMGEE!!! We need games to come out every 50 years, if not then RAGE AT ACTIVISION FOR BEING SUCCESSFUL.

CyberKlown28
CyberKlown28

Tony Hawk and Guitar hero were flash in the pan genre games. Rock band isn't even popular anymore. skateboarding got popular, the games got big. music games had their spotlight for a couple years. They died on their own, no fault to activision for giving fans what they want. Call of Duty is a fps, a genre that will be here to stay. Activision is handling it perfectly. Hype doesn't make a good game, its popular for a reason. Medal of Honor was equally as hyped as black ops and everyone hates it... as for pokemon, thats random...but anyways adding a bunch of new pokemon, a new world, etc. is a fine thing. What else can you ask for? guns?

super600
super600

CyberKlown28 Nintendo has also been guilty of releasing the same game with minimal changes with the Pokemon franchise. The next pokemon game will have big changes to it when it releases.

super600
super600

CyberKlown28 Yearly games most of the time are good as long as their is massive updates to the games and they are are released in a good state. Sadly COD and maybe GH and Madden don't fall into this category. The COD games always have online issues when they are released and at times their are minor updates to the games. I can't talk about Madden since I never played it. GH has already been destroyed by Activision's own mentality to release 5 GH games in 2009 and to let a horrible dev develop the games. You also know that the reason the COD games most of the time get good reviews and good sales involves the hype machine behind them. Most of the people are angry at Activision because they don't know how to handle their franchises.They are also angry because of all the junk the execs spew out all the time. I have a funny feeling the COD games are going to be Activision's next franchise that will be destroyed.

CyberKlown28
CyberKlown28

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dannyatkinson
dannyatkinson

In other news the world will end tomorrow.... Guess that will have to wait though;)

helldude90
helldude90

Wow this scenario should make a great game....

spoonybard-hahs
spoonybard-hahs

@ Marky360 Also, EA being added to the suit hasn't been news for "months." It hit Web sites on or about December 22. What's different here, had you actually been paying attention, is that TODAY the court hearing the case granted the addition of EA to the lawsuit.

MrHatnClogs
MrHatnClogs

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Barighm
Barighm

Activision is just being a big bully. They're trying to show everyone what happens when employees sue their employer for much deserved unpaid royalties: they go after you, they go after your new employer, and they probably go after your family next. Granted, EA's "joke" was stupid...trying to cover it up by just saying it was a joke...sort of thing you see on a playground or in a comedy.

Marky360
Marky360

@STRIFE9288 And yet you end up looking like the moron. As I stated Before EA being include in the lawsuit is old news this has been posted on other websites for months now. face the facts Gamespot was slow with this news and apparently so are you.

KuRf
KuRf

Wow....its like a plot of a new FPS game...nice!!!

RoganDerrick
RoganDerrick

Maybe, with any luck, they'll sue each other into oblivion.

Get_Shorty
Get_Shorty

Those two dumbasses. Why would you conspire with company when your under contract with another? Well we'll have to wait and see what the end result hopefully tells us the whole true story.

xaviermf
xaviermf

So... when is the book coming out?

SicklySunStorm
SicklySunStorm

They should release EA studios and Infinity Ward studios map packs exclusively for the trial, with West, Zampella, Kotick and Ricitiello avatars, then just let them go at it and see who wins. Who wouldn't want to see Kotick get shot in the face whilst cowering behind Infinity Ward staff desks?

Kashmiro
Kashmiro

@PitchBlack999 do you even know anything about these two guys or really the gaming industry as a whole? Anyways, they haven't really even been paid yet for making one of the biggest games of all time and Activision is acting like they were disgruntled employees because they didn't want to make Modern Warfare 3 yet. I was glad to see them trying to make new and different IPs and now I am glad EA gave them an awesome deal so they will be able to see those ideas fully fleshed out. Can't wait for their next game to come out, and can't wait for all this stupid "Big Business" crap to be over with.

Hezzron73
Hezzron73

This fight should be on Pay-Per-View!