Yesterday Activision and Call of Duty co-creators Jason West and Vince Zampella reached legal settlement a day before their trial was set to begin. “All parties have reached a settlement in the dispute, the terms of which are strictly confidential,” Robert Schwartz, attorney for West and Zampella, said.
The dispute began two years ago when Activision fired West and Zampella, and sent private security guards to Infinty Ward offices to make sure they didn’t take any Activision property with them as they were escorted out. West and Zampella sued for wrongful termination and unpaid performance bonuses due to them for Modern Warfare 2‘s record-breaking sales. Activision counter-sued, accusing West and Zampella of disloyalty.
The pre-trial proceedings had already made public a number of potentially damaging pieces of information, including testimony about “Project Icebreaker,” an alleged surveillance program Activision wanted to initiate by staging a fake fumigation to hack into West and Zampella’s computers, as well as the original contract between Activision and Bungie over the forthcoming shooter series code-named “Destiny.”
Another document revealed that 18 of the 21 top-paid employees at Infinity Ward during the development of Modern Warfare 2 have left to company to join Respawn Entertainment, the new studio West and Zampella founded after their firing.
That the case won’t go to trial will save both sides time, money, and stressful public scrutiny. It also means the story of how the videogame industry’s biggest publisher treated its most valuable developer won’t be fully told for years to come. The labor realities of making games are not the story that either studio heads nor their publisher bosses want told. They’re not flattering to either side. And for a while longer, they’ll remain an open secret.