Divorce can get really messy. Arguments get heated, lines get drawn in the sand, things need to be sold and assets are divided. Ohyeah, maybe kids too. Most divorces don't even come close to comparing with the industry's latest break between Vince Zampella,Jason West and Activision.
In the beginning they were all buddy-buddy. I'm sure the two enjoyed some steaks, lobsters, and a nice baby-carcass for Kotick. Maybe some wine for Jason and Vince and blood of the first born for the
devil CEO of Activision. When the relationship went south things got uglier.
While countersuits, conspirators, and court filings have already revealed much of the dirty details, an amended complaint from West and Zampella has been filed in an effort to allow West and Zampella to retain the Modern Warfare franchise rights. The document states that Activision and the former heads of Infinity Ward entered into a Memorandum of Understanding in the lead up to Activision's deal with Vivendi which was designed to:
address issues of significant concern to West and Zampella, particularly in the area of creative authority over the Modern Warfare games and the creation of a look, feel, and brand for the Modern Warfare games.
In addition to creative control, West and Zampella were also promised bonuses which fluctuated with revenue generated by certain games like Modern Warfare 2 (one of the biggest selling titles the industry has ever seen). Apparently, the Memorandum of Understanding was created in order to secure the continued employment by West and Zampella in light of the impending Vivendi merger:
To protect its interest in consummating its merger with Vivendi Games, Activision needed to do everything it could to keep West and Zampella content with their responsibilities and compensation at Infinity Ward. This gave West and Zampella considerable bargaining power in their negotiations with Activision.
Sounds to me like Activision knew full well that the two heads of their most profitable and successful development house weren't too happy staying in the family. Activision stipulated that creative control and bonuses were subject to the pair's continued employment, meaning if the two were fired, West and Zampella would be leaving without their franchise or compensation. "Don't worry about it. It's impossible for you guys to get fired," Kotick allegedly said.
Here's where all the secretive back-stabby fun comes in:
While paying lip-service to West's and Zampella's creative authority, in 2008 and thereafter, Activision began secret development of Modern Warfare and Call of Duty games and related products,
DUHN DUHN DUHNNNNNNNNNN
and undertook other conduct in relation to these two videogame franchises that, under MOU, required prior approval from West and Zampella. Activision did not inform West or Zampella of such plans or seek their input or approval for them. Indeed, while breaching the creative authority provisions of the MOU, Activision continued to pay lip-service to them, in an attempt to mask its secret development efforts.
So what's it all mean? It means that if West and Zampella are successful in their lawsuit, they'll be able to produce Modern Warfare games without Activision. As it stands right now, I doubt we'll be seeing a conclusion to Modern Warfare 2's bull shit cliffhanger ending. Fuck the whole mess.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go add Zampella to my spell checker's dictionary. So many damn red squiggly lines….