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New Call of Duty Titles Announced, Fired Devs Sue For Name 134

Posted by Soulskill
from the modern-legal-warfare dept.
eldavojohn writes "Activision has announced new Call of Duty titles while fired Infinity Ward Developer leads Jason West and Vince Zampella sue them for the rights to the name. According to Activision, 'The company intends to expand the Call of Duty brand with the same focus seen in its Blizzard Entertainment business unit. This will include a focus on high-margin digital online content and further[ing] the brand as the leading action entertainment franchise in new geographies, new genres and with new digital business models.' Ars opines that Activision is set to over-saturate the market with tons of CoD titles similar to how it expertly brought down Guitar Hero."
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New Call of Duty Titles Announced, Fired Devs Sue For Name

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  • by assemblerex (1275164) * on Friday March 05, 2010 @08:45AM (#31369770)
    will probably be the only end result, after ten years.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 05, 2010 @08:49AM (#31369790)

    "Server Error in '/' Application."

    Yup, the G4 link is dead already.

  • by twistedsymphony (956982) on Friday March 05, 2010 @09:30AM (#31370066) Homepage
    According the legal brief that IW filed they didn't "SELL" to Activision, Activision simply bought them out. Also after MW1 West and Zampella signed a contract with Activision that gave them exclusive rights to the "Modern Warfare" name, stating that no game can hold that title, nor can any Call of duty game take place after the Vietnam War without written consent from both of them. It also promised them royalties for for any past or present Call of Duty game or any game built on an engine developed by IW. It also promised them creative freedoms to explore new IPs instead of just churning out COD games. The only "hitch" was that the two had to make another Modern Warfare (MW2) and that they had to deliver it by November 15th..

    Well, they delivered the game, and did so 5 days before it was due. honestly I think even if Activision has valid grounds for letting them go, they still owe them what was promised in that contract since it the two of them clearly met their end of the bargain. Kotaku has the whole legal briefing... it's eye opening [kotaku.com]

    The REAL issue seems to be that Activision was afraid [kotaku.com] that the two were going to jump ship and go back to EA... The legal brief also goes into details of ridiculous month-long interrogation techniques Activision put the IW developers though trying to find evidence against West and Zampella. The final termination was based on comments made by them at a meeting over a year ago, and they were given 6 hours to "respond" to the charge of "insubordination" without being told what the charge was actually about.

    It's like a husband suspecting that his wife is cheating, turned the house upside down looking for evidence, and then the only "evidence" he can find is an off handed email from a year ago and kicks her out saying "you know what you've done"...
  • by GTarrant (726871) on Friday March 05, 2010 @09:48AM (#31370212)
    They should, but they do not.

    If there's anything that the last few years of watching the American corporate world could teach us, it's that the days of building a business that can stand the test of time, build a brand, and ensure that they are set for the future are essentially over. That used to be the way to make a successful corporation and to run a successful business, and for a small business, it generally still is.

    However, taking a look at "big business" these days, it's all about "What can be done to maximize profits NOW, even if it means sacrificing more later?" (Or even, in the case of some of the big banks and such, even if it meant completely destroying the future prospects of the company).

    Sometimes that makes sense - making $X now is better than $1.5*X two years from now. But with some of these franchises - Guitar Hero for example - you're talking about making $1.5*X now vs. $X every year or so for the next long while.

    In the past year or so they've released what, three Guitar Hero games? Or is it four? I've lost count. Since Guitar Hero 3, anyway, they've released Guitar Hero Metallica, Guitar Hero Aerosmith, Guitar Hero World Tour, Guitar Hero Van Halen, Guitar Hero Smash Hits, and Guitar Hero 5. It got to the point that last year they announced a deal where if you bought Guitar Hero 5 within the first month of release, they would send you Guitar Hero Van Halen, when it was released, -for free-. The brand has been diluted to the point that no one gives a damn about it anymore. It was the goose that laid golden eggs and they whipped it to death so they could get two eggs today instead of twenty over time.

    Will this happen with Call of Duty? It can. And when it does it happens quite suddenly, and given Activision's recent stated goals of simply taking franchises and running them into the ground, while not really developing new ones, they may find they suddenly have nothing left that will make money. At least EA has their sports games that they know will sell yearly. If Call of Duty and Guitar Hero go down the drain, then you are left essentially with the Blizzard titles keeping things going.
  • by MiniMike (234881) on Friday March 05, 2010 @10:05AM (#31370394)

    Quintin Tarantino is reportedly having a boxing match with Uwe Boll to see who will direct the film adaption.

    I think more people would prefer to see that.

  • by Moryath (553296) on Friday March 05, 2010 @10:48AM (#31370852)

    Right Here [penny-arcade.com].

    Developers and franchise holders need to learn not to sign with Activision. Or at the very least, avoid letting their franchise get locked in and their companies bought out.

    Look at the list of franchises Activision has "run into the fucking ground" over the years.

    Tony Hawk and the O2 Sports line? Check. And sadly, two of the best games in that line - Shaun Palmer Pro Snowboarding, Mat Hoffman Pro BMX - weren't skateboarding, and were probably better for not surviving since they existed in the merits of the sport rather than the "yeah skateboarders are a bunch of vandals and criminals and you can be thieves and thugs just like them" crap message of the later games.

    Spider-Man games? Oh good fucking grief. Just when we thought they had learned their lesson, since Spidey 2 for PS2/Xbox was stellar (exception made for the really crappy DS and PSP ports that still used the old Spidey-1 engine), out comes Spidey 3 and it's a completely retarded title with psychotic, seizure-looking "fighting" and "press X to not die" boss battles. Sigh. Then they went and tried to redeem the engine with "Prototype"... good concept, poor execution.

    In fact, their games based on Marvel in general have been crappier and crappier. The "storyline" of Ultimate Alliance 2 was pure turdburger, and the gameplay is just so much recycled crap. We lost a great fighting game franchise when Marvel went "Activision exclusive" and Marvel vs Capcom died, but what did they replace it with? Stinker after stinker of X-men "fighting game" titles, Baldurs-Gate-Lite beat-em-up "RPG" titles, and more stinky steaming turdburger movie tie-in titles than you can think of.

    Their James Bond "let's rip off the CoD engine and try to make a spy game" titles? Oh god. Especially the Quantum of Solace "Well we never finished the Casino Royale game so we'll just stick the levels in this one" crap.

    Guitar Hero? Let's see. Guitar Hero 1-4, "World Tour", 5, Aerosmith, Van Halen, Metallica, "Smash Hits", Band Hero, DJ Hero, "Rocks the 80s", "Greatest Hits", Guitar Hero Mobile, Guitar Hero On Tour, Guitar Hero On Tour Decades, Guitar Hero "Backstage Pass", "Guitar Hero Game Trivia Quiz for iPhone", "Guitar Hero Carabiner" for mobile phones... Can we say franchise fatigue? Yes, I'm pretty sure we can.

    It's no surprise why Harmonix picked up, said "fuck it" to their brand name, and just started over with Rock Band. Plus, Activision's online store for music is crap beyond crap, trying to force you to buy everything as album packs with no previews. With Rock Band, I mostly grab the tracks I want one at a time, unless I find a real reason to buy the "pack" or album set, and I listen to the preview first (got burned once by one of their really crap-ass David Bowie covers, never again will I purchase unlistened... but that was my own damn fault for not previewing). And as much as I hate supporting EA over anyone, in the case of Rock Band vs Guitar Hero, EA is the lesser of two evils by far.

    Enough is enough... Activision needs to either kick Kotick out, preferably skidding on his face rather than just landing on his fat ass, or else die so the good companies they bought up (Blizzard?) can go back out and be independent and innovative once more.

  • by timeOday (582209) on Friday March 05, 2010 @10:53AM (#31370918)
    So by your theory, in what decade did Madden NFL stop making money?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 05, 2010 @12:25PM (#31372122)

    The REAL issue seems to be that Activision was afraid [kotaku.com] that the two were going to jump ship and go back to EA...

    If this is true, then Activision is run by insane people and their stockholders should be very, very worried.

    It's not necessarily insane to fire employees. Even employees who are really good at what they do. There are times and places where shit like that happens and in the cold calculation of business you may calculate that it may make you more pennies to fire them than it does to keep them around. It happens.

    But it IS insane to fire employees because you're worried that they're going to quit and go work for a competitor. That's just completely batshit nuts.

  • by Jesus_666 (702802) on Friday March 05, 2010 @02:21PM (#31373538)
    This quarter? Remember, possible future earnings are absolutely inconsequential. Short-term profit is the only profit. A strategy that sacrifices short-term gains for long-term gains is not perceived as a good strategy.

"The eleventh commandment was `Thou Shalt Compute' or `Thou Shalt Not Compute' -- I forget which." -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982

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