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EA and Activision To Lawyer Up

According to numerous reports, including at CVG, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge recently ruled that there are enough facts to support ex-Infinity Ward heads, Jason West and Vincent Zampella, in a case against Activision where they claim the publisher deliberately outed them from receiving deserved royalty payments. This means the pair can sue the publisher. But in the meantime, Activision is still looking to sue EA over the affair.

Here's why. Many gamers might remember the debacle last year between West and Zampella and Activision. They claim that Activision effectively cheated them of royalties for the Modern Warfare franchise to the sum of $125 million. They were also meant to be able to control the Modern Warfare franchise apparently and claim that Activision were in breach of contract in numerous other areas (a covenant of good faith and fair dealing, wrong termination in violation of public policy, and declaratory relief).

West and Zampella want partial control of the Modern Warfare franchise back as well as their royalties.

As a result of the problems between them, West and Zampella left Infinity Ward – a decision they say was forced upon them – and formed Respawn Entertainment. Respawn's funding has come from none other than EA, who Activision claims "intentionally interfered with contracts, engaged in unfair competition, and [aided] and [abetted] breaches of fiduciary duty by West and Zampella." Basically Activision believes that EA was courting the pair since July 2009.

If this is true, and West and Zampella reciprocated during this time with EA, Activision says they are in breach of contract. The exact wording from EA is apparently that West and Zampella were "motivated by envy and personal greed". It also claims that the duo intentionally released Modern Warfare 2 trailers on the same day that Treyarch posted videos for Call of Duty: World at War downloadable content (DLC), but why that is so important remains to be seen.

What's Activision looking for from EA? $400 million in damages for what it calls "tortious interference, unfair competition, and breaches of fiduciary duty".

So it looks like EA and Activision are going to lawyer up soon in what will no doubt be a long and attention-seeking case.

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