Kotick Paints Black and White Picture of Infinity Ward Firings

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Kotick Paints Black and White Picture of Infinity Ward Firings

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Activision's CEO says he has no plans to allow for a Call of Duty feature film.

It's been a while since Jason West and Vince Zambella were terminated from their positions with Activision-owned Infinity Ward, and for the most part the dust has settled. But in a recent interview with The New York Times, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick spoke frankly about the earth-shaking decision to let two of the company's biggest names walk the plank.

"You find out two executives are planning to break their contracts, keep the money you gave them and steal 40 employees," Kotick explains. "What do you do? You fire them."

And that's just what he did, leading to a war of words between the former Infinity Ward employees and the company that sent them packing. West and Zampella alleged that Activision was withholding bonuses and other compensation that should already have been paid out.

His actions have been painted as the moves of a ruthless businessman, but for his part, Kotick appears careful of the moves he makes with Activision's IPs. According to the Times piece, he has repeatedly turned down offers from various Hollywood studios to create a feature film based on the Call of Duty universe because they could "taint the brand."

Source: The New York Times

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Personally, I'm not really sure how any Hollywood action movie could possibly "taint the brand" of Call of Duty anyways. It's basically just an interactive action movie itself, these days! Another Kotick-line of the highest quality.

Yeah, well he's never going to persuade people into not perceiving big publishers as evil, apparently within the gaming community you release a product they dislike and you're Satan

Now for the whole Infinity Ward debacle I don't think it's completely black and white, Infinity Ward broke their contract which is a big no no when doing business for evident reasons, but then again Activision didn't really deal with the incident with grace

What is clear though is that a lot of people really thought Activision was screwing with Infinity Ward for the evulz

Come on Bobby, that's not what happened now is it?

Looking at the facts, you had your suit against (supposed co-conspirators) EA thrown out of court, then a number of allegations of highly illegal behaviour on your part came to light, then the day before the West Zampella suit hit it's due date, you settled behind closed doors.

What does that tell us Mr Kotick? I'd say it tells us that not only was every allegation made against you true, but that there were other things so bad you were prepared to drop hundreds of millions just to make sure that a court of law, the public and your investors didn't get to hear them.

On a slightly different note, does this justify a breach of whatever non-disclosure agreement(s) he will have signed when the whole thing came to a crashing halt? It's pretty blatant slander regardless.

If it is I would love to hear West, Zampella's and the legally mandated versions of events. Between the three we may actually get some kind of truth.

Didn't Kotick once say he wanted to sell cut scenes like movies?

Oh yeah, here it is - http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/7.232663-Kotick-Itching-to-Sell-Cutscenes-As-Films

Guess they don't want any one else making money of the name.

Oh boy, someone let the muzzle off of Kotick.

I wonder if Activision's PR team is warned of theese things beforehand...

Lawyer105:
Personally, I'm not really sure how any Hollywood action movie could possibly "taint the brand" of Call of Duty anyways. It's basically just an interactive action movie itself, these days! Another Kotick-line of the highest quality.

Yes, because what we need is more dumb, generic action movies in our cinemas.

Also, considering that Call of Duty rakes in more every year than all but the biggest movies put together, why would he need to bother?

fix-the-spade:
Come on Bobby, that's not what happened now is it?

Looking at the facts, you had your suit against (supposed co-conspirators) EA thrown out of court, then a number of allegations of highly illegal behaviour on your part came to light, then the day before the West Zampella suit hit it's due date, you settled behind closed doors.

What does that tell us Mr Kotick? I'd say it tells us that not only was every allegation made against you true, but that there were other things so bad you were prepared to drop hundreds of millions just to make sure that a court of law, the public and your investors didn't get to hear them.

On a slightly different note, does this justify a breach of whatever non-disclosure agreement(s) he will have signed when the whole thing came to a crashing halt? It's pretty blatant slander regardless.

If it is I would love to hear West, Zampella's and the legally mandated versions of events. Between the three we may actually get some kind of truth.

Not surprising if it's true. Isn't Kotick the one that allegedly sexually harassed a flight attendant then sued her when she complained about it cause he she wouldn't be able to afford to defend herself a few years back?

Anyway, I'm just glad that Activision hasn't published anything I've even remotely cared about since I quit WoW. I'd hate to think even a penny of mine is going to him.

Oh.. and how could a movie "taint the brand"? What, might something have Call of Duty in the title and not be instantly associated with a bunch of 12 year olds screaming racial and sexual slurs at each other? Yeah how horrible that would be. Give the series to Michael Bay, even he would class it up compared to the games and the vocal portion of the player-base.

SNCommand:
Infinity Ward broke their contract which is a big no no when doing business for evident reasons,

There is no good evidence to say that they even did that, when pressed by EA, the evidence Activision came up with was that IW had discussed release dates with some members of EA/Dice (common practice, you don't want to release two similar games the same week) and part of a text message that allegedly went between West and 'someone working for Infinity Ward,' who has never been identified.

Which is why the suit was thrown out of court not long later.

The rest of the evidence Activision submitted comprised some extremely personal attacks on West, Zampella and a number of other ex-IW employee's motivations, honesty and competence.

What a dipshit.

gigastar:

Lawyer105:
Personally, I'm not really sure how any Hollywood action movie could possibly "taint the brand" of Call of Duty anyways. It's basically just an interactive action movie itself, these days! Another Kotick-line of the highest quality.

Yes, because what we need is more dumb, generic action movies in our cinemas.

They're going to make them anyways, all that would change is that some of them would now carry the COD logo.

Sylveria:

Not surprising if it's true. Isn't Kotick the one that allegedly sexually harassed a flight attendant then sued her when she complained about it cause he she wouldn't be able to afford to defend herself a few years back?

I can't remember that one. However, these are my two favourite bits of Activision's work from the last five years.

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/7.117249-Activision-Suing-To-Stop-Brutal-Legend-Release?page=1

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/7.223798-Activision-Tried-to-Steal-Paintballers-Identity?page=1

Neither paints a particularly grand picture of Activision's modus operandi.

Sylveria:

fix-the-spade:
Come on Bobby, that's not what happened now is it?

Looking at the facts, you had your suit against (supposed co-conspirators) EA thrown out of court, then a number of allegations of highly illegal behaviour on your part came to light, then the day before the West Zampella suit hit it's due date, you settled behind closed doors.

What does that tell us Mr Kotick? I'd say it tells us that not only was every allegation made against you true, but that there were other things so bad you were prepared to drop hundreds of millions just to make sure that a court of law, the public and your investors didn't get to hear them.

On a slightly different note, does this justify a breach of whatever non-disclosure agreement(s) he will have signed when the whole thing came to a crashing halt? It's pretty blatant slander regardless.

If it is I would love to hear West, Zampella's and the legally mandated versions of events. Between the three we may actually get some kind of truth.

Not surprising if it's true. Isn't Kotick the one that allegedly sexually harassed a flight attendant then sued her when she complained about it cause he she wouldn't be able to afford to defend herself a few years back?

Anyway, I'm just glad that Activision hasn't published anything I've even remotely cared about since I quit WoW. I'd hate to think even a penny of mine is going to him.

Oh.. and how could a movie "taint the brand"? What, might something have Call of Duty in the title and not be instantly associated with a bunch of 12 year olds screaming racial and sexual slurs at each other? Yeah how horrible that would be. Give the series to Michael Bay, even he would class it up compared to the games and the vocal portion of the player-base.

I know how it could taint the Call of Duty brand: they couldn't release sequels fast enough.

While he is a corporate Satan, he has a point, I mean, Mario Bros anyone? or Resident Evil? Any fighting game movie? He has the right idea blocking attempts to make a film, last thing we need is another bad Game Movie for the pile.

.................................................what an idiot : D
*ahem* *switches off offensive-text-generator*
Well...I'm not sure how you want to "taint the brand", I mean it feels more like this brand is tainting otherwise perfectly fine games.
And Kotick, you could actually make quite the sum with that feature film. I understand that you really REALLY dislike making money, but the rest of the company needs to stay afloat SOMEHOW. So please don't manage your company like a suicidal maniac on corporate-scale, but start to make some decisions that will net you something uh......positive.

Nurse! Mister Kotick is out of his room again!

And yet every single person in this thread, had he been in Kotick shoes, would have done the same.

Kotick doesn't want to make a film about Call of Duty so he must be telling the truth about the firing of Jason West and Vince Zambella. Sorry how does that make any sense

Hey the game's story is an average action film, i guess that comparison would hurt there feelings right :P

Traun:
And yet every single person in this thread, had he been in Kotick shoes, would have done the same.

No, no I wouldn't.

I would have actually paid my employees for the work they did, so that they didn't see the grass on the other side of the fence as greener. It's basic business, if your employees aren't paid what they're worth, they'll go somewhere where they are.

A CoD film would be terrible. It'd either be a generic war film with nothing to do with CoD, or it would be an accurate representation of CoD and the bloodiness when not being there for gameplay would make CoD seem absurd and overwraught. It probably would make tons of money though. I imagine a lot of CoD fans haven't ever seen a game-movie of a game they've played.

Traun:
And yet every single person in this thread, had he been in Kotick shoes, would have done the same.

But didn't Activision have to pay up when Infinity Ward tried to sue them? So Kotick argument that this was true and that he had paid them the bonuses owned can't be black and white iron tight

he has a point.

backstabbing is still backstabing if you do it on a "evil" person.

the taint the brand bit was kind of pointless and out of context. unless someone can make the connection.

plus employees are not property. you cant steal them.

Traun:
And yet every single person in this thread, had he been in Kotick shoes, would have done the same.

Taking an absurdly myopic view of the events, perhaps. Mismanaging the situation the way he did leading up to it? Of course not. Firing the employees you've completely disenfranchised is the no brainer last step of a terrible management system.

MikeWehner:
he has repeatedly turned down offers from various Hollywood studios to create a feature film based on the Call of Duty universe because they could "taint the brand."

A hollywood movie isn't what tainted the brand. The asshole 12 year old swearing and using racial/prejudice slurs incessantly over their mics tainted the brand. This is the reason I haven't owned a CoD game since MW2.

Bobby, Bobby... You had been quiet for so long, I almost forgot why people hated you that much...
Thanks for the reminder.

MikeWehner:
"You find out two executives are planning to break their contracts, keep the money you gave them

You mean the millions of dollars from bonus and royalties you promised? Of course not, everyone knows you never deliver those...

MikeWehner:
and steal 40 employees,"

There is no such a thing as "stealing employees"; they are not slaves. Its called brain drain, and if you want to avoid it, you should care about incentives for people not to leave.

Traun:
And yet every single person in this thread, had he been in Kotick shoes, would have done the same.

You mean breaching contract by keeping payment hostage? Or locking them out of their office without notice? With armed guards? Or sending a team to hack their computers to find incriminating proofs and naming it "Project Icebreaker"?

No, that is not something anyone would have done. That is something a Bond villain would have done...

"You find out two executives are planning to break their contracts, keep the money you gave them and steal 40 employees," Kotick explains. "What do you do? You fire them."

"...but first, you hire a private investigator to try and dig up dirt on them. Then, you withhold their royalties. Then you interrogate their employees. Only then do you fire them.

And then, when the case gets to court, you flip lawyers constantly and try to obfuscate the process, eventually resulting in you settling the case out of court because you realized you looked like the bad guy."

Bobby Kotick, ladies and gentlemen. The only reason I don't give him more flack is because he just whores franchises out. He doesn't drag series/developers out back and shoot them in the head like Riccitello.

If you look into the details of what really happened you'll see that Activision was unhappy with the contracts they negotiated, not just bonus structure but the amount of control that Infinity Ward had over the series with their contracts at the time, and decided to weasel their way out of it.

Some of the dirties pool I've seen in this industry, and that is saying something.

EDIT: Just in case anyone doesn't think that Activision was in the wrong here, just look at the settlement. While the settlement amount will never be made public it was likely for a LOT of cash. Activision cared much more about the control of the IP than they did the bonuses.

Diablo1099:
While he is a corporate Satan, he has a point, I mean, Mario Bros anyone? or Resident Evil? Any fighting game movie? He has the right idea blocking attempts to make a film, last thing we need is another bad Game Movie for the pile.

The Resident Evil movies consistently make three times their budget back. They're phenomenal successes. And I for one enjoy them quite a bit.

Yagami_Kira:

Diablo1099:
While he is a corporate Satan, he has a point, I mean, Mario Bros anyone? or Resident Evil? Any fighting game movie? He has the right idea blocking attempts to make a film, last thing we need is another bad Game Movie for the pile.

The Resident Evil movies consistently make three times their budget back. They're phenomenal successes. And I for one enjoy them quite a bit.

I don't know if it'd still be considered a "Good" Movie, just at this point, it's just Weird Fan Fiction to me, but to each their own.
My other examples stand up though.

fix-the-spade:

SNCommand:
Infinity Ward broke their contract which is a big no no when doing business for evident reasons,

There is no good evidence to say that they even did that, when pressed by EA, the evidence Activision came up with was that IW had discussed release dates with some members of EA/Dice (common practice, you don't want to release two similar games the same week) and part of a text message that allegedly went between West and 'someone working for Infinity Ward,' who has never been identified.

Which is why the suit was thrown out of court not long later.

The rest of the evidence Activision submitted comprised some extremely personal attacks on West, Zampella and a number of other ex-IW employee's motivations, honesty and competence.

Did you know one of the major pieces of evidence that Activision submitted was a dinner bill involvin top EA executives and West and Zampella that they charged to Activisions accounts? Did you also know they outright lied about where they were at the time when pressed about it?

shintakie10:
Did you know one of the major pieces of evidence that Activision submitted was a dinner bill involvin top EA executives and West and Zampella that they charged to Activisions accounts? Did you also know they outright lied about where they were at the time when pressed about it?

Links or it didn't happen...

#Edit: http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2012-05-23-activision-vs-vince-zampella-and-jason-west-inside-the-game-industry-trial-of-the-decade

This is the best write up I've found of the events leading up to the settlement, interestingly, Michael Pachter called it first!

Diablo1099:

Yagami_Kira:

Diablo1099:
While he is a corporate Satan, he has a point, I mean, Mario Bros anyone? or Resident Evil? Any fighting game movie? He has the right idea blocking attempts to make a film, last thing we need is another bad Game Movie for the pile.

The Resident Evil movies consistently make three times their budget back. They're phenomenal successes. And I for one enjoy them quite a bit.

I don't know if it'd still be considered a "Good" Movie, just at this point, it's just Weird Fan Fiction to me, but to each their own.
My other examples stand up though.

If by your other examples you meant anything other than Street Fighter: The Movie, and left out Mario Bros, then sure I can understand, at least to me.

The street fighter flick was a godly heap of cheese, but to this day I can still watch it and enjoy it. It's not like there was exactly a crap-ton of lore that existed at the time for the SF series, besides Bison Bad, Ryu and Ken cool, and Chun Li kicks hard and fast. Besides, Raul Julia sold Bison, he sold the character so well it made the movie.
As for Mario Bros? I see it the same way honestly. Its not like there was much to the story other than king captures princess, fat guy and scrawny guy run from left to right, and save her. Again, I actually enjoyed the movie as a kid, and I still do. There are callouts to the series hidden within it. And deciding that instead of trying to shoe-horn the game's premise into the movie, that they'd instead do a bit of an alternate telling by showing just what might happen if Bowser succeeded in gaining the throne, was interesting I'd say. Maybe not the smartest or greatest choice, but interesting.

Ultimately it falls on the studio and director to ensure that the game-to-movie transition works. Its why anything game-based attached to Uwe Boll's name fails hard. The man has no interest in the games, or even the movies. He's interested in cheap names to toss onto blank pieces of paper he calls scripts, then filling everything in with as many cheap actors as he can. It's why he said Alone in the Dark needed car chases and explosions, its why House of the Dead had awkwardly long and cut-in camera-spins around characters firing off some random weapon in slow-motion, and god-damn its why he's completely capable of ruining even a zombie flick, which should be nearly impossible to do even with the intellect and common sense of a kindergartener.

Prince of Persia? I thought pretty dang good. Silent Hill? Weak, but they at least managed to nail the atmosphere (and with help) the music of the series in a way that brought it together into something serviceable. Final Fantasy: Spirits Within? I thought pretty dang good as well, biggest problem is everyone expected something completely different (like a movie based on the actual games, not the recurring story elements within them).

Stepping off that tangent though, I disagree that Kotick has the right idea. He only refuses because studios haven't offered him enough cash for the property. There is no care about its "integrity" otherwise he'd actually give the games some development time instead of forcing studios to collaborate in order to make their 2-year, alternating release schedule. He'd actually deliver substantial packs of DLC instead of the overpriced bundle of mostly re-used or copied assets that are the games map packs.
What he is saying is the same common sense statement damn near every gamer has ever said, and more importantly this is all particularly chosen PR bull to contend with his image.

cursedseishi:
Holy Wall of text!

By Fighting game movies, I was also including Tekken (Said to be SO bad Namco made a CGI Tekken because of it!) and The King of Fighters.
Look, I get what you are trying to say, but at the end of the day, a lot of Video Game Related Movies are bad. Some REALLY Bad. Others so Bad it's Good (Like Street Fighter)

I'm just kinda glad we aren't getting a over-blown billion dollar COD Movie to add to the list.

If my employees tried to "break their contracts, keep the money you gave them and steal 40 employees"- which is a big if, and shame on you if you're taking a statement like that at face value- yes, I might well fire them.

I wouldn't investigate them, subject them to police-style interrogations, and try to ruin them financially and professionally; that might be considered a bit much.

Oh Kotick. What a saint. He's doing his very best to keep his PR people employeed by keeping them busy trying to clean up all the stupid things he says.

Funny, though, since most of the research I read up on was a lot of questionable, unethical, and illegal activities occurred on Activision's side of the equation... unless hiring hackers to try and dig up reasons to fire someone suddenly became an okay thing to do when I wasn't looking.

Also, the Call of Duty brand was "tainted" a long time ago.

Diablo1099:

cursedseishi:
Holy Wall of text!

By Fighting game movies, I was also including Tekken (Said to be SO bad Namco made a CGI Tekken because of it!) and The King of Fighters.
Look, I get what you are trying to say, but at the end of the day, a lot of Video Game Related Movies are bad. Some REALLY Bad. Others so Bad it's Good (Like Street Fighter)

I'm just kinda glad we aren't getting a over-blown billion dollar COD Movie to add to the list.

That much I can agree with, though I'd argue in the end that you can take any war movie and easily put Call of Duty in the title. So at the end of the day, I have to ask "Why pay 10 bucks for Call of Duty: The Movie, when the rental store has like 50 movies practically the same as it!?".

And I can't comment on the Tekken movie, though... if the imdb links are any indication... King of Fighters was so bad no one even wanted to do anything more with it. Something I support wholeheartedly seeing as I watched that... movie...

It hurt. Between darker skinned and definitely Asian boy ala age 8 or whatever, compared to same character at age... 20-30 something and is now pale as heck and definitely Caucasian, among other things? I doubt consistency was on any single person's mind there at all... That, and old man Terry Bogard... that hurt too...
Stung almost as bad as Legend of Chun Li... and in some ways worse!

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