Activision has added EA to its countersuit against the former heads of Infinity Ward, and has leveled some pretty major claims against the Battlefield publisher.
The legal battle between Activision and former Infinity Ward heads Vince Zampella and Jason west just got more complicated. Today, the publisher’s request to amend its countersuit against the men was successful, meaning that Electronic Arts is now being listed as a cross-defendant because EA apparently plotted to “inflict serious harm on the company.”
Activision has also added a $400 million request for “actual and punitive damages” to the suit. On top of this, the protective order redacting sections of the suit – because they were publicly embarrassing to the defendants – has been removed.
According to one part of the formerly-redacted sections, “Activision is informed and believes that to protect its weaker [Battlefield: Bad Company] series, EA secretly schemed with West and Zampella to bolster sales of BFBC at the expense of Call of Duty.
As a result, Activision claims that “Electronic Arts secretly conspired with Infinity Ward employees to affect the timing of the release of Electronic Arts and Activision products to the benefit of Electronic Arts and detriment of Activision. Activision’s belief is based on an internal EA email bragging about how Electronic Arts asked Zampella to hold back the release of an Infinity Ward product until after Electronic Arts launched its game, and how Zampella ‘was cool with that.'”
To back up this claim, Activision included an email from EA’s Lincoln Hershberger that reads as follows:
“A couple months ago, I asked Vince to hold back their map pack until after we launched (he owes me one). Given that they’ve already made a billion, he was cool with that, obviously Kotick took it as being belligerent.”
The map pack in question was the first one scheduled for Modern Warfare 2 known as the “Stimulus Package”, which was released nearly a month after EA put out its lauded Bad Company 2.
EA, meanwhile, is claiming the email was a joke. According to spokesman Jeff Brown, “this was obviously sarcasm. It’s clear from the email this was a joke and they never spoke. We explained this to lawyers at Activision – who apparently don’t have much of a sense of humor.”
There are a number of other redacted sections, mainly focusing on “specific actions related to EA’s CEO John Riccitiello, negotiations between EA and West and Zampella, and any deal they may have arrived at.”
If you want to read the rest of the redactions, Joystiq has transcribed all the major points. If these claims are true, then Activision has some pretty damning ammunition to fire at EA, West, and Zampella. If Brown’s telling the truth and Hershberger’s email was actually a joke, then it was a stupid one to make (not to mention that it’s not really all that funny).