EA Added As Defendant To Activision's Infinity Ward Countersuit

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EA Added As Defendant To Activision's Infinity Ward Countersuit

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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).

Source: Joystiq and VG247

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While they're at it, why not sue every other developer/publisher that released a game during that time-frame.

Also a side note, that little email raises all kinds of frightening thoughts if true. I thought they were supposed to be rival companies, not 2 companies that were pretending to be rivals but are actually friends and essentially control a large part of the industry together.

This cannot end well with Two evil empires head-to-head.

I pains me to say it but, go EA...... D:

Joke or not, I don't see where the problem is. Its not like they would of made a substantial loss if this was the case, people who would buy the stimulus would have bought it at some point regardless.

It's a shame that it seems that Kotick wants to take the camaraderie out of the studios.

Can someone fill me in on exactly what both companies are talking about? I try to keep away from all the bullshit and drama in the industry, but seeing EA and Activision go head to head should be interesting.

mad825:
This cannot end well with Two evil empires head-to-head.

This^. One way or the other, some franchises a lot of us know and love are going to have their budgets cut.

Qufang:
Joke or not, I don't see where the problem is. Its not like they would of made a substantial loss if this was the case, people who would buy the stimulus would have bought it at some point regardless.

It's a shame that it seems that Kotick wants to take the camaraderie out of the studios.

I think the problem here is that you have the heads of a studio under an exclusive contract who (if true) are making a deal with a studio making a similar game for your publisher's biggest rival. That's probably in violation of all sorts of parts of West and Zampella's contracts, and it's not hard to see where this rubbed ATVI the wrong way. "It's just a joke" is one of the weakest potential defenses you can have in something like this - if you're part of a large corporation, you need to take that sort of thing seriously.

I'm really interested in how EA will respond.

Activision may just trying to protect their assets, but good grief are they going WAY overboard.

Joke or not, I wonder what Hershberger did for Zampella that he owed him one. And if it isn't a joke, then that should be passed off as friendly competition, in the classic style of helping out your rival, so that a victory over fair ground is more meaningful. Though, without a verdict and all evidence presented and known, my judgment is reserved.

this is pretty funny. find the humour in this please.

John Funk:

Qufang:
Joke or not, I don't see where the problem is. Its not like they would of made a substantial loss if this was the case, people who would buy the stimulus would have bought it at some point regardless.

It's a shame that it seems that Kotick wants to take the camaraderie out of the studios.

I think the problem here is that you have the heads of a studio under an exclusive contract who (if true) are making a deal with a studio making a similar game for your publisher's biggest rival. That's probably in violation of all sorts of parts of West and Zampella's contracts, and it's not hard to see where this rubbed ATVI the wrong way. "It's just a joke" is one of the weakest potential defenses you can have in something like this - if you're part of a large corporation, you need to take that sort of thing seriously.

I'm really interested in how EA will respond.

Well it seems a shame that every aloof comment and ribbing sent back and forth has been gone over with fine tooth comb and taken out of context. Im sure if you quoted some of my e-mails out of context and dead serious you could accuse me of all kinds of crimes, maybe they modified the quote a bit to make it work better. Of course Activision is not above plain making shit up (and also seem to like trying to steal the identity of paintballers) so excuse me if im skeptical about this one.

I'm still unsure as to how exactly this related the the IW "D-Day" thing in which the studio heads were ousted, i thought the issue here was Activision attmepting to not give them their pay-day after creating the highest grossing entertainment product of all time. I guess we may never have the whole picure but there sure seems to be a lot of conflicting info out there, even in what we do know.

God, soon they'll drag THQ into this for some arbitrary reason. This has gone a bit too far.

This is certainly moreso damning evidence...and EA's response tends to tell me this really was not a joke to begin with. Or if it was, based on what I read on Joystiq, it was a joke that was somehow funny enough to last for half a year straight at least heh...

...however, the source behind these leaked messages should also be carefully considered. Not publically, god no - EA is like any other bigger company, they'd fire them on the spot for this of course. But privately the courts would do well to ask about the actual source of this and not simply rely on it being 'anonymous.' Because the thing with these 'reliable sources' as always is that they tell one side of the story only rather than the whole picture.

If EA were to release other correspondance between them from that time, that could actually shed a different light on all of this. But until then, no - this isn't just a joke I think. Not if this stuff actually is legit.

I am fairly certain that if I had been working at EA during the time, that joke would have made me laugh.
Its about time Activision call it quits on this BS and admits its wrong.

dibblywibbles:
this is pretty funny. find the humour in this please.

Considering that THQ has confirmed that they turned away Zampella & West before they got the deal with EA, I think Activision has been talking out of their collective asses. The fact that they're going up against EA over this suggests to me that someone high up in Activision's ranks doesn't have two brain cells to rub together.

I see where this is going...

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DayDark:
I see where this is going...

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Well, at least we'll get to see this I agree and I'm sure it'll be very entertaining (because EA, unlike everyone else Activision has sued in the past, has the funds to fight them equally on legal terms), no matter which way it goes and which side winds up taking the consequences in the end. :p

I really hope Blizzard were smart enough to take precautions against being dragged into Activision's idiocies. Come to think of it, why did they tie themselves to them in the first place?

Right because that email is going to get Activision 400mill.

Sounds like business to me. Employees not happy, screw employer. Happens everyday. Moral of the story, take care of your people and dont hire premadonas.

You didnt make enough money already ATVI? Sounds like two things are happening, Big man in ATVI is still bum sore or they are honestly intimidated by what EA can do with those two now. We all know if ATVI win that the two Devs wont be able to work with EA.

I think this is a if we cant have them, no one can. Mark my words, Act will drop their case out of court and suddenly the two Devs will go elsewhere.

Aw Poor Infinity Ward. Think of all the money they could have made from Modern Warfare 2 if EA hadn't held up the release of that map pack :(

OH WAIT

Seriously the video games industry needs to stop all this infighting and focus on confronting the real enemy: California!

Please let Activision wither and die!

I hope they bankrupt each other in court that would be good for the gaming industry. Its like stalin vs hitler in court both companies are run by assholes, with no reguard for gamers or games anymore.

Irridium:
While they're at it, why not sue every other developer/publisher that released a during that time-frame.

They might as well sue a small child for being born in the time-frame as well. Why not add to the fucked up bullshit!!!

This is what happens when you have a sense of humor around lawyers and big businesses. Eventually some little comment is going to bite you in the ass.

*Grabs popcorn* I dunno about you guys but I think this is pretty entertaining.

HIT HIM IN THE BALLS!!

Hmm, which side to root for...

Id like to go with EA on this, I would love to see CoD die in my lifetime.
But EA... well its fucking EA, we all know whats wrong in there.

Oh, wait, Activision is owned by Vivendi Universal? Fuck im actually behind EA on this. Anyone who likes Half-Life should hate Vivendi for a very good reason.

In my eyes, this is the equivalent of a kid threatening to tell his mommy on another kid. It's so childish and pathetic.

Let's see. If infinity ward wins, they get a shit ton of money and the rights to modern warfare. If Activision wins, EA loses a shit ton of money and so do Zampella/West.

Why can't the court date in May come already? I want to see this turn into Gaming War 3.

I agree with that guy who said this is like Stalin vs Hitler. Activision is like Hitler and EA is like Stalin, both are extremely evil, but most people agree that Activision/Hitler is a little more evil. However, I'm going to also hope that both companies suffer from this, because EA needs to be punished for modeling Bad Company 2 after CoD. Seriously, Battlefield 2 was a great and successl game, and for descructible environments I would have paid $50, so why'd they have to change up the formula?

John Funk:

Qufang:
Joke or not, I don't see where the problem is. Its not like they would of made a substantial loss if this was the case, people who would buy the stimulus would have bought it at some point regardless.

It's a shame that it seems that Kotick wants to take the camaraderie out of the studios.

I think the problem here is that you have the heads of a studio under an exclusive contract who (if true) are making a deal with a studio making a similar game for your publisher's biggest rival. That's probably in violation of all sorts of parts of West and Zampella's contracts, and it's not hard to see where this rubbed ATVI the wrong way. "It's just a joke" is one of the weakest potential defenses you can have in something like this - if you're part of a large corporation, you need to take that sort of thing seriously.

I'm really interested in how EA will respond.

They have added EA as a party under tortious interference and on the face of it EA are in trouble. The only thing in EA defence is that anyone would have to pretty dim to conspire by email when Activision effectively owns the mail server. This kind of case is not uncommon is large multinational companies, however normally its about poaching of staff.

I would like to remind people that senior management are under a legal duty to protect the shareholder interest, so that in the real world Actvision hasn't got much choice about taking legal action in this case. If they didn't and that facts came out they almost certainly face legal action from disgruntled shareholders themselves. Before you say thats just a bunch rich guys, most the shares are indirectly owned the general public. The biggest investors are pension funds and life assurance companies. So that $100 million could mean 10000s of people have slightly large pensions than they otherwise would have and thats a bad thing?

The biggest investors are pension funds and life assurance companies. So that $100 million could mean 10000s of people have slightly large pensions than they otherwise would have and thats a bad thing?

That's if you trust the system and quite frankly given Activision's reputation and willingness to line their pockets with any kind of money they can get, I'd be shocked if a fraction of the money they win for the types of investors that get in bed with them (wether they have a superficially 'good' label attached to them or not) will *ever* reach the ones you're talking about.

Though not to say EA is any prettier - they just happen to have better PR and a slightly better track record from what I can tell. But that's all. Hence why this will be so entertaining to watch - because I'm not a fan of either company, even though I may be a fan of some of the developers they support.

Well that and Activision's games are consistently better than EA's. Unless you like hunting or 5000 copies of Madden. Battlefield 1942 (which I still play to this day) and Sims 2 are the last good things they've made and look at how they stuffed up the sequels.

Yeah, I'm going for Infinite ward but I also believe that the case has merit in it's own right, and that E-mail doesn't seem like a "joke" to me. They have a case regardless of it too, remember, so there's obviously more substance than appears at first glance.

*REST OF POST REMOVED DUE TO AUTHORS STUPIDITY*

John Funk:

Qufang:
Joke or not, I don't see where the problem is. Its not like they would of made a substantial loss if this was the case, people who would buy the stimulus would have bought it at some point regardless.

It's a shame that it seems that Kotick wants to take the camaraderie out of the studios.

I think the problem here is that you have the heads of a studio under an exclusive contract who (if true) are making a deal with a studio making a similar game for your publisher's biggest rival. That's probably in violation of all sorts of parts of West and Zampella's contracts, and it's not hard to see where this rubbed ATVI the wrong way. "It's just a joke" is one of the weakest potential defenses you can have in something like this - if you're part of a large corporation, you need to take that sort of thing seriously.

I'm really interested in how EA will respond.

To be honest, nothing I have seen seems damning in the slightest. Activision's case is just as weak as EA's defense here. It is based on hearsay and conjecture and most points of contention have no better arbiter than a jury's gut (which itself is largely dependent upon the quality of the argument the lawyers give). Activision has yet to present anything resembling "proof" and I suspect this entire trial will eventually boil down to an incredibly expensive "he said/she said" sort of affair.

Besides, if EA actually is guilty of the things they are accused of, this trial will almost certainly never reach a court anyhow given the damages requested exceed the current liquid capital of the company my quite a bit and any reasonable human being would opt to settle the whole sordid affair for some fraction of the cost and red tape.

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