It has been a few days since Activision and Infinity Ward have been in the news, so they were due. In the next chapter of the continuing soap opera between the developers and publisher of the mega-hit Modern Warfare series, 38 current and former employees of Infinity Ward have filed a new lawsuit against Activision, claiming that the publisher withheld their bonuses in order to force them to work on Modern Warfare 3.
G4 is reporting that the group, calling themselves the Infinity Ward Employee Group (IWEG), filed suit today in Los Angeles. Of the 38 claimants, not all have left Infinity Ward. The group specifically alleges breach of contract, and more. The lawsuit claims that $28 million in bonuses have been delivered to Modern Warfare 2 employees, but at least $54 million is still due from the 2009 profits alone.
“Activision owes my clients approximately $75 million to $125 million dollars. Activision has withheld most of the money to force many of my people to stay, some against their will, so that they would finish the delivery of Modern Warfare 3,” the group’s lawyer, Brice Isaacs, claims. “That is not what they wanted to do. Many of them. My clients’ entitled to their money. Activision has no right to withhold their money – our money.”
Activision is accused of having “improperly withheld this specifically identifiable sum of money from the members of IWEG in order to force them to keep working for Activision so that Activision could receive delivery of Modern Warfare 3.” The suit claims that Activision withheld bonuses in a “calculated, purposeful and malicious decision in an attempt to force employees of Infinity Ward to continue to work at a job that many of them did not want just so Activision could force them to complete the development, production and delivery of Modern Warfare 3.”
The issue of the bonuses has become a major point in all the lawsuits (there are currently three separate suits for those keeping score).
“I’m confused, because by leaving, they are giving up their bonus – and the more people that leave, the bigger the bonus gets for the people who stay,” Dan Amrich, a social media manager for Activision, said in a forum debate on Facebook.
This is a key point of contention between not only the new IWEG and Activision, but also Activision and West and Zampella. Activision is issuing the bonuses to current employees only, while the others claim that they were contractually due the bonuses for completing Modern Warfare 2, and everything after that is irrelevant.
“Vince and Jason had very large bonuses; those bonuses are being redistributed to everybody else, to the people who did not allegedly attempt to steal company secrets,” Amrich states in the forum discussion. “Activision is not pocketing that bonus money; it’s still going to the people who work at IW. But you have to work at IW to get it, see?”
So far there have been 26employees to leave, according to the website Kotaku. The developer employed 93 employees when Modern Warfare 2 was released. Many have joined West and Zampella at Respawn Entertainment, but several have yet to announce their intention.
Activision has yet to respond to the newest suit.