The on-going battle between Activision and Infinity Ward has taken a turn for the worse which could see the publishing giant lose up to $125 Million in claims of further unpaid bonuses. The “Infinity Ward Employee Group” (IWEG) which conists of 38 current and ex-Infinity Ward staff have filed a law suit against Activision for apparent breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, violation of California labor code and unpaid royalties.
Bruce Isaacs, one of the IWEG’s attorneys at Wyman & Isaacs LLP, stated:
“Activision owes my clients approximately $75 million to $125 million dollars. Activision has withheld most of the money to force many of my people to stay, some against their will, so that they would finish the delivery of Modern Warfare 3. That is not what they wanted to do. Many of them. My clients’ entitled to their money. Activision has no right to withhold their money — our money.”
The IWEG contains “a significant portion of the members of the creative team” who “designed, developed and delivered” Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. According to the lawsuit, $28 million has been delivered to Infinity Ward employees for bonuses related to Modern Warfare 2, but the suit alleges at least $54 million is still due from 2009 profits alone.
They want more than $54 million, however. The IWEG is looking “to recover between $75 million and $125 million, if not more, in compensatory damages.” That number’s derived from:
- Unpaid bonuses from 2009 and 2010 sales generated by Modern Warfare 2 — fourth quarter 2009 and first quarter 2010, specifically.
- Bonuses “due and owing to them” past first quarter 2010.
- “Bonus/royalty/profit participation” related to “technology/engine” royalties, “other special performance bonuses,” “other studio bonuses” or “any other bonus/royalty/profit participation.”‘
- Lost value on “restricted stock units” that Activision “promised” would vest (read: own it in your own name and purchase it from Activision) when Modern Warfare 2 sales eclipsed
- Modern Warfare 1, which “has long ago occurred.”
- Money owed as it relates to Modern Warfare 2 “sister games, including but not limited to” the oft-mentioned Modern Warfare 3, “if Modern Warfare 3 is ultimately delivered and marketed.”
- Interest rates related to the above sums of money.
An Activision representative response to the lawsuit:
â€śActivision believes the action is without merit. Activision retains the discretion to determine the amount and the schedule of bonus payments for MW2 and has acted consistent with its rights and the law at all times. We look forward to getting judicial confirmation that our position is rightâ€ť.
Who could have predicted that Activisions biggest earner and title to date could possibly end up their biggest lawsuit loss simply because of greed? Whilst the staff at Infinity Ward are dwindling away slowly, and some heading over to Respawn Entertainment to work on a title for EA Games - the Call of Duty Franchise as we known it may never be the same again!