Activision war goes to defcon 2

It seems that the developers at Infinity have gone revolted against their Activision overlords.

Infinity Ward developers are fleeing Activision as if it was the lower decks of the Titanic, and a group of staff, both past and present are suing the outfit for $500 million.

Activision bought Infinity Ward, which is the maker of the Call of Duty franchise. It appeared to be making a killing and was set to give its developers large amounts of cash.

Then for some reason the lead developers at the studio started chatting to arch-rivals EA games and before the cash could be distributed, the lead developers were fired.

They did go off and formed their own company with EA games, but it is not clear if they knew the writing was on the wall for them.

Since they left about 20 developers have packed their bags.

But it seems everyone wants the cash they were promised in bonuses.

The lawsuit being filed by 38 people referring to themselves as the Infinity Ward Employee Group. It said that Activision breached a contract by not paying the entirety of the royalties due to employees after the success of Modern Warfare 2.

Activision has paid $28 million in royalties so far, but still owes $54 million for 2009, as well as other bonuses based on the first quarter of 2010. The group is also seeking $75 million to $500 million in punitive damages.

Class action lawyer Bruce Isaacs told G4 that Activision owes the employees $75 million to $125 million dollars.

He said that the money is being hung to as a cunning plan to force developers to stay at the outfit so that they will finish the delivery of Modern Warfare 3.

Activision spokesman Dan Amrich has insisted that employees who leave the studio would be giving up their bonus, and that “the more people that leave, the bigger the bonus gets for the people who stay.”

Activision, for its part, believes it has done nothing wrong. “Activision believes the action is without merit. Activision retains the discretion to determine the amount and the schedule of bonus payments for MW2 and has acted consistent with its rights and the law at all times. We look forward to getting judicial confirmation that our position is right,” the company responded in a statement.

However, it is starting to look as if Activision will have to merge Infinity Ward and shut it down once the next map pack for Modern Warfare 2 is released.

At least two map packs were promised when the last version was released and together with the Stimulus Pack already released to great sales.

Modern Warfare 3 will probably still make it into the shops next year, but probably nothing to do with Infinity Ward.  More here