Activision vs Infinity Ward. And where does that leave Blizzard?

godfather

Bobby (Don) Kotick makes the Infinity Ward CEOs an offer they can’t refuse.

The big story in gaming this week was Actvision’s abrupt dismissal of the two most senior executives of the studio which made Modern Warfare 2. In case anyone missed it, that was not only the top selling game last year but is also touted as the biggest entertainment launch in history.

Not only that but Activision commented in a statement that they plan to create a new unit for future titles in the series, and mentioning insubordination as a reason for having taken such aggressive action. They also mention breaches of contract, which probably means that the two ousted execs had been dealing under the table with other publishers with a view to slipping the leash. Apparently the associated HR investigation involved extended interrogations in locked rooms also. (I swear, I couldn’t make this stuff up.)

Scott Jennings takes a longer look at the story on his Broken Toys blog.

We certainly haven’t heard the last of this. Because West and Zampella (the Infinity Ward executives) have also filed a lawsuit against Activision, claiming that the reason that the parent company came on so heavy was to avoid paying royalties for Modern Warfare 2 (which as mentioned, made a metric tonne of cash). They’re also trying to gain control of the Modern Warfare brand.

If there is any truth to this, then you have to wonder how Blizzard’s senior management are viewing the news. They’re likely to have three chart topping hits in the next few years (SC2, Cataclysm, Diablo 3). Would Activision be crazy enough to pull another fast one in order to cut off those royalties at the knee also?

And a bizarre side-effect of this story is that it makes EA look pretty good in comparison.