Another developer executive sacked for "insubordination"

Gamesindustry.biz reports that US developer Quest Online has sacked its president and co-founder Dave Allen for “insubordination” and replaced him with 3000AD president Derek Smart.

It seems that Quest Online was “struggling” following the release of its MMO Alganon in December 2009, leading to management changes in which Dave Allen was demoted to COO but was subsequently sacked after “failing to please the new president and the investors”, with Smart replacing him.

Drastic management changes following poor business/management performance are nothing new, but this item seems news-worthy because Smart justified the sacking of Allen on the basis of “insubordination”. This is of course the second time in the last few weeks that that word has come up, the first time being Activision’s justification of its sacking of former Infinity Ward executives Jason West and Vince Zampella on the grounds of “breaches of contract and insubordination”.

The difficulty with “insubordination” is that it sounds like a legal phrase but, as far as I know, it isn’t (certainly under UK law anyway). If “insubordination” is taken simply to mean deliberately “disobeying a lawful order from someone in charge of them” then in principle that could be grounds for termination of employment, but of course it would depend entirely on the facts and circumstances of the case – in other words, it is not necessarily enough on its own. Moreover, senior departures from a company can be tricky at the best of times, what with potential issues of unfair/wrongful dismissal as well as financial consequences (e.g. share options and so forth).

So, the point is: just because we see “insubordination” being bandied around in the news, doesn’t mean that it is a sufficient ground for terminating someone’s employment without further ado.


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3 comments

  1. Stabs – thanks, that's interesting. The proof will ofc be once we see Activision's legal documents and whether they rely upon insubordination in a technical or colloquial sense.

    By the way, just seen your Stabbed Up blog – great stuff! I particularly liked your post about Eve's "real world" economy.

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