Was MW2's 'Stimulus Package' Held Back For Bad Company 2 Launch?
Written Friday, January 21, 2011 By Richard WalkerView author's profile
Forget the wars depicted in Electronic Arts' and Activision's military shooters, Call of Duty and Battlefield. There's a real war between the two companies set to kick off in the courtrooms it seems, as more allegations have been levelled at EA in Activison's lawsuit against them, following claims that EA interfered in its affairs during the whole Infinity Ward mess that resulted in studio founders, Jason West and Vince Zampella setting up Respawn Studios at EA.
Well now the plot has thickened even further, as apparent proof has surfaced in the form of an internal email from EA executive, Lincoln Hershberger, which seemingly brags about how he managed to get the Modern Warfare 2 developers to delay the release of the 'Stimulus Package' map pack to prevent it from interfering with the launch of Battlefield: Bad Company 2, which is arguably Modern Warfare 2's closest competitor.
"A couple months ago, I asked Vince to hold back their map pack until after we launched. (He owes me one,)" reads the offending email, which apparently refers to MW2 dev, Vince Zampella. "Given that they've already made a billion, he was cool with that, obviously (Activision CEO) Kotick took it as being belligerent."
EA spokesman Jeff Brown has issued a comment, explaining that the email was sarcasm, and therefore an obvious joke: "This was obviously sarcasm," he said. "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 humour."
The emails have been included in Activision's lawsuit against EA earlier this week, which accuses the publisher of actively pursuing West and Zampella after they were dismissed by Acti for 'insubordination'. This would put the duo in breach of their employment contracts under Californian law, if indeed they were seeking work outside of the company.
Added to the public record this week, the emails - that include exchanges between EA executives discussing the potential hiring of West and Zampella - were given to Acti by EA as part of a discovery into the legal proceedings between the feuding publishers. Activision's request to sue EA for $400 million has therefore obviously been approved, and the documents were filed with the Los Angeles Superior Court on Wednesday.
Jason West and Vince Zampella's lawyer, Bobby Schwartz, issued the following statement to Kotaku, in response to Activision's claims:
"Activision's claims of such things as 'tortious interference' are not merely unfounded, they are undermined by the very documents attached to and quoted in its cross-complaint. The contact and communications that Jason and Vince had with EA were entirely lawful. If Activision's cross-complaint proves anything, it is that Activision is consumed with ill-will towards plaintiffs. It is bad enough that Activision refused to honour its contract with them and pay them the millions of dollars they and the other Infinity Ward employees earned from their years of work in developing Modern Warfare 2. Now Activision wants to ruin their ability to earn a living anywhere else. When the trial comes, we will make sure the jury appreciates what Activision is attempting to do.
"As to the allegation that Vince deliberately delayed a map pack for MW2 at the request of one of EA's developers, the allegation is completely false, and at trial it will be clear that this is a desperate attempt by Activision to find some basis to justify its misconduct and refusal to pay what it owes, not only to Jason and Vince, but to all of the other Infinity Ward employees."
And so, the case goes on. And on and on and on...