Activision Legal Drama Continues With Hacking Allegations
by GL News
And the soap opera wagon that is the Activision vs EA/Activision vs West and Zampella lawsuit drama trundles onward. After no news for a while, suddenly the case is back up in everyone’s faces – not that we mind… there isn’t much in the way of gossip and scandal in the gaming industry, so this makes for good, popcorn stuffing viewing, in our book. For those who don’t remember, ‘how it all began’ can be viewed here in a sexy GamingLives news piece, or at Develop-Online who have thoughtfully laid out a timeline of articles. In short, Activision unceremoniously threw Jason West and Vince Zampella out of Infinity Ward, back in March 2010, causing an exodus of key staff and lighting the blue touchpaper on a number of lawsuits and counter-suits.
West/Zampella are suing for unfair dismissal (insubordination, was Activision’s reason) and unpaid royalties. Activision are suing them, claiming they were in cahoots with EA before jumping ship. Then Activision dragged EA into the fray, claiming that their rival illicitly lured the pair away, and that they may well have taken sensitive info with them, seeking $400 million in damages from EA due to the disruption caused. To top it all off, everyone has been bickering about the Modern Warfare 2 IP.
Meantime, back at the ranch, a group of former Infinity Ward employees – the Infinity Ward Employee Group - sued Activision for unpaid royalties for work on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2… a case which was settled, in part, by Activision just a few days ago to the tune of $42 million. Lawyers for the group, however, are seeking full damages, which could run to between $75 and $120 million.
Yesterday, EA and Activision put their toy swords down and finally reached a settlement over the Modern Warfare lawsuit, but aside from a short joint statement, no details have yet emerged as to the specifics. Now, however, EA have at least been removed from the lawsuit against West/Zampella – a suit which is still very much on and heads to court 29th May.
So… is that it then? Nope. More details are emerging as the date for the hottest show in the playground draws near. According to court documents filed by West and Zampella, Activision snooped on the pair, instructing their Director of IT, Thomas Fenady, to dig up dirt on them by hacking into emails, voice-mails, and PC equipment. A report today on Develop-Online states that “In pre-trial documents filed to a Los Angeles court, it was alleged that Fenady initially expressed reservations about hacking into personal data belonging to fellow employees. Yet George Rose, Activision’s Chief Legal Officer, is alleged to have told Fenady that the order to hack ‘comes from Bobby [Kotick] directly’.
Understandably, Activision wanted this information sealed away, however, it has been set free after objections from the West/Zampella camp. Allegedly, the original plan (dubbed Operation Icebreaker) failed, and Activision were left to take a more direct approach, seeking to gain physical access to the pair’s computers:
“Fenady asked Activision’s Facilities Department for help gaining physical access to West and Zampella’s computers. Executives discussed staging a fake fumigation and mock fire drill in a bid to get West and Zampella away from their active computers. Cracking passwords was also considered.”
Dirty stuff indeed and, of course, more compulsive viewing tha
n World’s Craziest Fools (but not much). So folks… take your positions up on the roof of the bike-sheds for the scrap of the century, come 29th May. It only gets dirtier from here on in.
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