Released e-mails show Activision preparing for Infinity Ward fallout
by Steve Watts, shacknews.com, May 22, 2012 8:30AM PDT
The legal battle between Activision and Infinity Ward is coming to a head, and newly released court documents are giving us a better look at Activision's internal dialogue in the days leading up to firing Jason West and Vince Zampella. The e-mails range from frustrations, to plans of how to keep projects and teams on-track without the known leadership.
Court documents published by the LA Times show conversations between CEO Bobby Kotick, and executives Dave Stohl, Mike Griffith, and Rob Kostich.
Tensions began to boil after Infinity Ward failed to get a gameplay demo of Modern Warfare 2 ready for Microsoft's E3 press conference. "Msft [Microsoft] will go ballistic over this and the deal is seriously risked," Kostich wrote in one email. Griffith, who was president of publishing at the time, called West and Zampella and said they hung up on him. Kotick replied, "If they really did I would change their locks and lock them out of their building."
Griffith then suggested that Treyarch could take it over, but says that option is "scary given the tight timeline." Plus, Stohl said the group should "discuss what the plan B is going to look like" since "there could be a ton of risk getting the project done depending on how the team takes it."
And in a moment of truth in hindsight, Stohl also said, "Is everyone ready for the big, negative PR story this is going to turn into if we kick them out? [It's] freaking me out a little."
Activision had also set in motion a retention plan for the top 12 team members, besides West and Zampella. This was to "help ensure we retain the team if things blow up at the top," according to Griffith.
The company recently settled its suit against Electronic Arts, and paid a hefty non-settlement sum to the Infinity Ward Employee Group. All indications are that it's clearing the arena for the main event against West and Zampella, and these new e-mails show just how tense the situation was before the company fired the two former executives.