Activision asked an employee to “dig up dirt” on Call of Duty developers, Jason West and Vince Zampella.
According to a court document obtained by the Los Angeles Times, Activision’s former IT chief, Thomas Fenady, testified that he was asked by Activision’s in-house lawyer, George Rose, to hack Zampella and West’s voicemail, email and computers in what he called “Operation Icebreaker.”
Fenady testified that the aim of the operation was to build a case for firing West and Zampella; either because they were planning on jumping ship to EA, or because Activision owed them royalty money, depending on which side of the drawn-out court battle between the two parties you believe. Rose testified that the operation was formed as part of “contingency planning” about the Modern Warfare developers’ future with the company.
Told not to “worry about the repercussions of [his] actions,” Fenady tried to hire an outside company, InGuardians, to perform the task, but the company apparently couldn’t get past the “legal hurdles” the operation presented. Stymied, Fenady approached Activision’s Facilities department with a cunning plan. If they could stage a “fake fumigation” and a “mock fire drill,” Zampella and West would be pulled away from their computers long enough for someone, who I like to imagine would be dressed as a ninja, to copy the contents of their hard drives. Fenady’s plan never reached fruition, and Activision and its attorneys refused to comment on his testimony.
Other recently unsealed documents include the bonus plan from the developers’ original agreement back in 2003, and a memorandum of understanding dated for 2008 that extended that contract.
As seedy as this sounds, I do love the idea of two grown men throwing around terms like “Operation Icebreaker.” It makes me imagine a wonderful world where every single corporate activity comes with a fantastic military-esque monicker. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to arrange the Escapist’s annual barbecue, or as I like to call it: “Operation Flameskull.”