The latest on the Infinity Ward lawsuit

The Infinity Ward lawsuit – the epic games industry lawsuit between Activision, EA and the founders of Call of Duty creator Infinity Ward – was meant to go to trial yesterday.  It hasn’t…but it’s still rumbling on.  In fact, it’s been pretty busy.  I thought I’d summarise quickly some of those recent developments:
#1: Acti and EA make friends:

The biggest development by far is that Activision and EA have settled with each other, leaving this primarily a lawsuit between Activision and the Infinity Ward founders, Jason West and Vince Zampella.  Apparently it didn’t involve much money (i.e. a ‘drop hands’ settlement as litigators call it).

The settlement was always a possibility – 9 out of 10 cases settle prior to trial typically – but I have to admit that the fact the fight had got pretty personal between the two companies had made me begin to think it might go all the way betwee them.  Apparently not.

#2: the ‘creative control’ argument has come to the fore

One of the points I made way back when the lawsuit kicked off in 2010 was that West and Zampella are seeking ‘creative control’ of the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare series – a relatively vague concept that could be extremely lucrative to them if the court ever ruled in their favour.  Now that trial is approaching, that issue has come to the forefront of the case. 

#3: Activision’s relationships with developers came under scrutiny

As I understand, part of the West and Zampella legal argument is that they agreed a lesser deal with Activision than they could have, in order to secure that “creative control” I mentioned above.  As part of that argument, they were able to obtain disclosure of at least one other development agreement between Activision and another developer.  As interesting as this is, my understanding is that Activision successfully applied to have the document sealed (i.e. made private to the litigation), so I shouldn’t link to it.  Still, the point is, other high profile developers indirectly were mentioned in the case.

#4: Infinity Ward was paid well for its work (predictably)

#5: West and Zampella gave a pretty frank (and I’d say unwise) interview to Game Informer about their thoughts on the case

#6: Trial has been delayed briefly to June 1st, due to jury difficulties.  

So there you have it – a few interesting developments in what still seems likely to become one of the highest profile games industry lawsuits of recent times…there’ll be more from me on this as the trial rolls on…

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