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The Courts Games

Activision Countersues Modern Warfare 2 Execs 120

Posted by Soulskill
from the why-can't-we-be-friends dept.
WrongSizeGlass writes "AP is reporting that Activision has countersued former Infinity Ward executives Jason West and Vince Zampella. Activision claims West and Zampella 'morphed from valued, responsible executives into insubordinate and self-serving schemers who attempted to hijack Activision's assets for their own personal gain and whose actions threatened both the future of the Call of Duty franchise and the future of Activision's (Infinity Ward) studio.'" This follows Activision's firing of the execs earlier this year. Legal documents indicate that this legal dispute has caused delays in the production of Modern Warfare 3. Lawyers for the two fired execs say Activision's claims are ridiculous, citing Modern Warfare 2's overwhelming financial success. Meanwhile, it's rumored that EA is seeing the whole fiasco as an opportunity.
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Activision Countersues Modern Warfare 2 Execs

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  • Weird (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jerrei (1515395) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @09:21AM (#31807672)
    Self-serving schemers? What, Kotick was afraid of some competition?
    • It sounds like legalese for "we don't have a breach of contract case against them".

      That, or Activision's counsel is the stereotypical sleazy lawyer...

  • Awesome! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Guido69 (513067) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @09:24AM (#31807704) Homepage
    I'm sure as customers we'll all benefit from this litigation. Mad props to the lawyers!
    • Re:Awesome! (Score:4, Funny)

      by alex4u2nv (869827) * on Sunday April 11, 2010 @09:45AM (#31807824) Homepage

      Afterall, Modern warfare is lead by lawyers =)

      • by ozbird (127571)
        Bring on the sequels: "Modern Warfare: Cease and Desist", "MW: IP Violation" and "MW: Litigious Bastards [sco.com]".

        Then again, the learning curve might be too difficult: do you call in a counter-suit or a Supreme Court appeal when your position is about to be overrun by litigators? Maybe make "Serious Sam: Lawyers" instead.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Scrameustache (459504)

      I'm sure as customers we'll all benefit from this litigation. Mad props to the lawyers!

      Of course! Those people who make good games need to kept in check by the people who really have our best interest at heart: The people who want to milk a franchise as fast as possible! Those are the real heroes... them, and their lawyers, obviously.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      What I found funny was the quote from the legal brief: "They morphed from valued, responsible executives into insubordinate, self-serving schemers who attempted to hijack Activision's assets for their own personal gain."

      Sounds like my ex.

    • Re:Awesome! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by pdabbadabba (720526) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @10:53AM (#31808374) Homepage

      I don't really have anything to say about the merits of all this. But I thought it might shape your views to know that in a situation like this (assuming the case is in federal court, or a court using something like the federal rules), Activision has to bring any countersuit that arose from the same set of circumstances that form the basis of the plaintiffs' original suit; they won't be allowed to bring it later. So, it may well be that Activision had never really intended to sue the execs, but was forced to bring the counterclaim now to keep its options open.

      • Re:Awesome! (Score:4, Insightful)

        Sue, counter-sue. With each passing case, the US legal system sounds more like a venue for petty schoolground squabbles, instead of a place where adult disputes are resolved. Is there anyone at the helm of this vessel?

        • Then you might be interested to know the actual rationale: requiring related suits to be lumped together avoids needless duplication in evidence gathering and case management and, thus, tends to lower the burden on the judicial system over all.

          Who's at the helm? In this case, the Rules Advisory Committee of the Judicial Conference, acting pursuant to authority granted them by Congress in the Rules Enabling Act (28 U.S.C. 2072).

          And yes, I do parties.

        • Well...we could go back to the gool 'ol days of dueling it out. Personally, I'd rather watch that than 3+ years of boring court hearings.
  • by ColonelSplendid (1493243) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @09:25AM (#31807714) Homepage
    Please guys, don't go to EA, that is like going from a semi-evil organization to the ultimate evil organization. Go work for Valve or Bungie or one of the other decent studios out there.
    • by cyanid3 (998026)

      EA is suddenly cool. Yeah, I know, I didn't get the memo either.

    • by Nivlheim (1024343) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @10:14AM (#31808062)
      EA may have been the ultimate evil for some time, but Activision has recently been able to overtake them. By a rather large amount too. The former is now the diet-coke of evil, while the evil-scale has had to be redefined to accomodate the latter.
      • by Devout_IPUite (1284636) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @01:01PM (#31809438)
        IMO In the Evil Pagent: Ubisoft is still winning. EA is 2nd. Activision is 3rd.
        • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Disclaimer: I work for Ubisoft.

          I disagree with that. Ubisoft cares quite deeply about its game quality, as does EA (recently). EA realised that they had become the bad guys, and took steps to correct that. Activision has actually embraced that aspect of themselves.

          Ubisoft has done a lot of wrong recently with its ridiculous DRM, but it's honestly a fairly isolated incident. Overall, they are still trying to improve the quality of their games. EA is doing much the same. And EA has realised that their D

          • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

            by shermo (1284310)

            Disclaimer: I work for Ubisoft.

            I never would have guessed.

          • by Machtyn (759119)
            Yes, whatever happened to the Jeff Green from the EA.com story [slashdot.org]?

            Yes, Activision has embraced its evil status: the CEO has turned away potentially good games because he didn't see the recurring-fee model or the tweak-a-few-settings-and-release-20xx-the-next-year model (as one example). Supposedly, EA has realized its mistakes, but I'm still not seeing a lot of fan support for its popular games. (The Need For Speed series could be great, but one $50 game is only playable for so long. It's re-playability i
          • by Shihar (153932)

            Sorry, Ubisoft has taken the cake for pure evil over the past few months. They might make good games, but they then turn around cripple the crap out of them and declare customers the enemy. At least EA has not plastered everything they own in crippleware.

            Personally, I feel sorry for the developers. They make a great game, and then corporate slithers out from the cracks in the ground and intentionally turns it into a steaming pile of shit.

            Good job ass hole, you kept the broke 12 year old kid who isn't goi

    • Yeah, go work for Valve or Bungie. There can't possibly be anything evil about two corporations that are financially dependent on Microsoft and have contributed to MS using their monopoly to leverage their position in the gaming industry.

      EA certainly is no white knight, but just because you like the games Valve and Bungie develop doesn't mean they have the moral high ground. Bungie is no more than a part of Microsoft (just because they are technically "independent" doesn't mean they're not bound by contract

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Jesus_666 (702802)
        You're right about Bungie (remember, they used to develop for Mac OS before Microsoft bought them; now they dont make any Mac games at all) but Valve isn't exactly dogmatically Windows-only. Steam for Mac (along with Cider-ported versions of Valve's Steam games) is slated to launch this month. They realized that Mac users pay for games, too, and are catering towards that market. Seems fairly balanced.
    • by Daetrin (576516)
      EA _used_ to be evil. They've actually reformed a lot, partially through lawsuits (the EA Spouse thing) and partly through the actions of their new CEO John Riccitiello. He instituted a lot of changes when he took over, including a focus on developing new games rather than just making sequel after sequel after sequel. Unfortunately the game buying public has responded by... not buying the new games they've always said they wanted, which has driven down EA stock prices and puts Riccitiello at serious risk of
  • Punish Activision (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 0xdeadbeef (28836) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @09:31AM (#31807746) Homepage Journal

    I quit World of Warcraft over this. I've never played Modern Warfare, nor do I care who made it, but it is obvious that Activision wants to milk its franchises until there is nothing left but dessicated corpses, and fuck anyone who stands in their way.

    • by Ephemeriis (315124) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @09:45AM (#31807828)

      I quit World of Warcraft over this. I've never played Modern Warfare, nor do I care who made it, but it is obvious that Activision wants to milk its franchises until there is nothing left but dessicated corpses, and fuck anyone who stands in their way.

      Actually, that seems to be what pretty much everyone is doing these days...

      We've got sequels and expansions and spin-offs of anything even remotely successful - on the big screen, in TV, with video games, and with books.

      Seems like nobody wants to be creative/original anymore.

      • Re:Punish Activision (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 11, 2010 @10:05AM (#31807970)

        I quit World of Warcraft over this. I've never played Modern Warfare, nor do I care who made it, but it is obvious that Activision wants to milk its franchises until there is nothing left but dessicated corpses, and fuck anyone who stands in their way.

        Actually, that seems to be what pretty much everyone is doing these days...

        We've got sequels and expansions and spin-offs of anything even remotely successful - on the big screen, in TV, with video games, and with books.

        Seems like nobody wants to be creative/original anymore.

        Give it a few decades.

        Musicians and film artists are just now being able to really succeed free of the grips of their large respective "artist associations". There's still a long way to go, though. It's taken about 50 years for music, 80 years for film.

        In 20 years, indie studios in video gaming are starting to get a real grip on the industry. Extrapolate that. So, I say, give it a decade or so. Being at the grips of some big, monolithic evil publisher won't be an issue anymore.

        • Re:Punish Activision (Score:5, Interesting)

          by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @12:02PM (#31808932)

          In 20 years, indie studios in video gaming are starting to get a real grip on the industry. Extrapolate that. So, I say, give it a decade or so. Being at the grips of some big, monolithic evil publisher won't be an issue anymore.

          Good point. Personally, I see the seeds starting now: hardware and tools are powerful enough that even without a budget, you can create a polished game experience. You don't have to code a physics engine by hand, you don't have to be a graphics wizard to create a colorful world with great draw distance, and you don't have to ration your CPU-cycles to have some sort of believable AI and pathfinding.

          Since the biggest difference between blockbusters with 50 million dollar budgets and those with 50k budgets will be how many content creators and how many hair-physics creators they employ, there's a good chance that indie developers can actually be very successful. See Portal and Castle Crashers, for example.

          • by esaulgd (1754886)

            there's a good chance that indie developers can actually be very successful. See Portal and Castle Crashers, for example.

            Portal is NOT an indie game. The core mechanic was originally from a student game and the dev team was mostly composed from those students, yes, but they were employed at Valve and had the support and resources of a large corporation.

          • by Machtyn (759119)
            For more examples, see some of the better Flash games on ArmorGames.com or any of the other portal games sites. True, the games are short... but true, the games are mostly free to play. There are also some really quality games with a bit of story to them. (see the Sonny series: Sonny 1 [armorgames.com] and Sonny 2 [armorgames.com], with a 3rd one coming out, hopefully soon.) Any of these, with a slightly bigger budget, more time, etc, could be made into a retail type game. Effing Hail [armorgames.com] would be a fun Wii game with a few gameplay tweaks,
      • There are a few franchises though that really benefit(ed) from expansions and sequels. Imagine Super Mario Bros if it never evolved past Super Mario Bros. for the NES. We'd get basically "Lost Levels-esque" expansions year after year instead of the superb Super Mario Bros 3 and Super Mario World. Similarly, there are a lot of games that improve as technology improves even when the basic concept remains the same. Open-ended adventure games are one genre. For example, Fable on the original Xbox was good, but
        • Sure, there are some very good sequels out there that certainly deserved to be made. Some of the Mario games, like you mentioned... Or the first couple of Star Wars sequels...

          And I'm really not complaining about sequels/spin-offs/whatever that make sense. Ones that add something to the story... Or improve and expand upon gameplay elements...

          But these days it seems like we've got a lot of folks doing nothing more than simply milking a successful title.

          Look at the pile of Star Wars prequels, and then the

        • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

          I actually wish that there were more sequels of the games I like a lot.

          For example, I never understood why the people who put out Far Cry didn't make another half-dozen games using that excellent engine. It was fun, you really felt in control of movement and action, and it ran like a champ on a E4300 with a Radeon X1650. I fully expected that Far Cry 2 would use the same engine. All they had to do then was come up with new textures and a new story. But instead, they went to a completely different engin

      • by poena.dare (306891) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @10:22AM (#31808130)

        "Seems like nobody wants to be creative/original anymore."

        I dunno... I heard Modern Warfare 3: Reuters' Photographer Extermination was supposed to be pretty different...

        • by Holammer (1217422)
          "I dunno... I heard Modern Warfare 3: Reuters' Photographer Extermination was supposed to be pretty different..." Too soon!
          • by feepness (543479)

            "I dunno... I heard Modern Warfare 3: Reuters' Photographer Extermination was supposed to be pretty different..." Too soon!

            Dude, it was like three years ago.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by poena.dare (306891)

            Def in bad taste. Sorry.

      • by Bengie (1121981)

        "We've got sequels and expansions and spin-offs of anything even remotely successful"

        The problem with many games now-a-days is they're story based. You get invested into a story which adds lots of value to the game.

        FPS game are the only games that can easily be changed/unique because not being held to a story line. Any major FPS game is mostly multiplayer, so just make it fun and it's a winner. RTS/MMORPG/etc are a lot more involved and are more fun when there's a history.

        • by Ephemeriis (315124) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @11:08AM (#31808480)

          The problem with many games now-a-days is they're story based. You get invested into a story which adds lots of value to the game.

          This is a problem? I always thought stories were a good thing...

          FPS game are the only games that can easily be changed/unique because not being held to a story line.

          I disagree. The fact that FPS games are more-or-less driven by their mechanics, rather than a storyline, typically makes them less unique.

          In Doom I was some generic guy running around and blasting monsters... In Quake I was a different generic guy running around and blasting different monsters with slightly better graphics... In Unreal I was a different generic guy running around and blasting different monsters with even better graphics...

          But in Half-Life I was Gordon Freeman attempting to escape from Black Mesa after a resonance cascade tore the facility apart and flooded our world with extra-dimensional nasties.

          There's a reason why the crowbar [wikipedia.org] has become a truly iconic weapon... While the nail gun has been all-but forgotten.

          Any major FPS game is mostly multiplayer, so just make it fun and it's a winner.

          Fun is, of course, subjective...

          But let's assume you've got some FPS title that everyone agrees is fun. And you take those exact mechanics and just re-skin everything... Say, take some Call of Duty title and turn it into a sci-fi shooter... Aside from preferring a sci-fi setting to a more realistic one, why would I bother to buy the new game if it's identical to the old one in every way that matters?

          RTS/MMORPG/etc are a lot more involved and are more fun when there's a history.

          I agree... But that doesn't mean you have to keep rolling out sequels. You can create the history within the game itself. Give your characters some depth and detail... Fill in the blanks in the world... Make me feel like I know the characters, the places, the villains... Give me a history, even if I've never heard of the game before.

          • by vux984 (928602)

            There's a reason why the crowbar [wikipedia.org] has become a truly iconic weapon... While the nail gun has been all-but forgotten.

            Generic space marine for the win here. The "BFG" from doom is legendary.
            The crowbar? I wouldn't even have made the connection unless you had spelled it out.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by ildon (413912)

            There's a reason why the crowbar has become a truly iconic weapon... While the nail gun has been all-but forgotten.

            That's because what became Quake's signature weapon was not the nailgun, it was the rocket launcher, which is still pretty fucking iconic when you consider the relative (overall) popularity of the two game series. TF2 has an entire class built around just the Quake rocket launcher.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Ephemeriis (315124)

              That's because what became Quake's signature weapon was not the nailgun, it was the rocket launcher, which is still pretty fucking iconic when you consider the relative (overall) popularity of the two game series. TF2 has an entire class built around just the Quake rocket launcher.

              I have to disagree. Maybe I'm in the minority here... But when somebody says "crowbar" in relation to gaming, I think of Half-Life. When somebody says "rocket launcher" in relation to gaming, no particular title comes to mind.

              • by Khyber (864651)

                "When somebody says "rocket launcher" in relation to gaming, no particular title comes to mind."

                Never played Doom, I see.

                Cyberdemon.

                • "When somebody says "rocket launcher" in relation to gaming, no particular title comes to mind."

                  Never played Doom, I see.

                  Cyberdemon.

                  Yes, I did play Doom. And the sequels. And the recent remake.

                  And, while rocket launchers were handy in Doom, they weren't terribly iconic.

                  Rocket launchers have been around since Wolfenstein... Probably even longer than that.

                  If I had to pick a signature weapon out of Doom it would be the BFG - not the rocket launcher.

                • The Doom iconic weapons were the BFG and Chainsaw.

              • by delt0r (999393)
                When someone says crowbar, I think of a bugler. I tried to play half life. But 10 mins of not killing anything put me off.
            • by Lunzo (1065904)

              For me the railgun is the iconic Quake weapon. I always preferred classic Unreal Tournament's rocket launcher to the one in Quake. Charging up 6 rockets when you only needed one or two for a kill was satisfying.

          • There's a reason why the crowbar has become a truly iconic weapon... While the nail gun has been all-but forgotten.

            I disagree. My friends and I remember the nail gun fondly. I just imagine that it's because of the lack of a ubiquitous internet culture when Quake came out to popularize it.

            And FPSes can clearly have a compelling story (see Halo) and unique mechanics. The ease of copying a mechanic vs. a story makes them all resemble on another again, but I would posit that there were about as many groundbr

            • I would posit that there were about as many groundbreaking FPS mechanics as there are compelling RPG storylines.

              I agree.

              And I thoroughly enjoy a good FPS.

              I'm not particularly interested in the genre pissing war

              Nor am I.

              I don't mean to suggest that an FPS is somehow superior or inferior to an RPG or anything else. Again, I thoroughly enjoy a good FPS.

              I just wanted to defend my nailgun (and super-nailgun!)

              Both of which were terrific weapons - which is why I used it as an example.

              • Both of which were terrific weapons - which is why I used it as an example.

                You implied that the crowbar became an iconic weapon because of the storyline. I posit it was merely the lack of a large internet community that was around when Quake was released.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by NeutronCowboy (896098)

        That's because being creative and original doesn't pay. Guitar Hero, GTA and Modern Warfare spawn sequels because each sequel is HUGELY profitable. Brutal Legends won't, as it maybe broke even. Furthermore, every original game that is wildly successful will spawn a sequel - guaranteed. See Portal, for example. This means that sequels, spin-offs and expansions are guaranteed to outnumber successful original games.

        However, here's something you can do to help: when an original game comes along, and it might no

    • by dougisfunny (1200171) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @10:00AM (#31807924)
    • So... pretty much standard business model then. When I saw the original story on slashdot I figured we would see more of this.
    • can i have your stuff?
  • by phantomfive (622387) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @10:00AM (#31807938) Journal

    it's rumored that EA is seeing the whole fiasco as an opportunity

    Look for it soon! Executive Slayer, the Headhunter Edition! Can you chase down enemies, destroy smaller game companies, assassinate foes, all while managing to convince the public to buy crap products and run a profitable company? Preorder now for the 'IP Lawyer' character, which allows you to snipe your customers for extra pocket change! Bonus points if you can get them to keep buying afterwards!

  • The magic of words (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 11, 2010 @10:05AM (#31807976)

    When one says: "They were insubordinate and self-serving schemers who attempted to hijack Activision's assets for their own personal gain"
    The other says: "They owed us salary and we tried to get them to pay it"

  • by durrr (1316311) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @10:16AM (#31808086)
    ... EA announces Modern Company: Bad warfare 3.
    Starting at three, because then there's place for atleast two prequels without having to use convoluted titles.
  • Sue Family (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by Bananatree3 (872975)
    I sue you
    You sue me
    We're all sue happy
    With a big fat lawsuit from me to you
    Won't you please sue me too
  • i recall gaming's history in between 1982-2010, and i dont remember a single case in which big corporations did good for gaming.

    especially since ~1995, where gaming has started to become an industry and big players popped up. all that is being done has been producing mass produced, rehash titles, or buying small, innovative companies and fucking them up to produce mass produced, rehash titles.

    • by Hatta (162192)

      Big companies are pretty much bad for quality in any market.

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I don't know. I can think of at least two big companies doing it right. Namco (I've yet to hear a big complaint about a single one of their larger franchises. They usually take their time putting out a quality game.), and Nintendo (Specifically, the guys working on the Zelda franchise, and, to a lesser extent, the Mario platformers).

      • by unity100 (970058)

        two. name two more.

        • by Binestar (28861)
          You originally couldn't think of one, he named twice the number you mentioned and that isn't enough? Sheesh, Take your handout and be happy.
        • Square Enix.

  • by rev_sanchez (691443) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @10:48AM (#31808330)
    'morphed from valued, responsible executives into insubordinate and self-serving schemers

    Apparently these lawyers don't think judges and juries know what executives are.
    • by dangitman (862676)

      Apparently these lawyers don't think judges and juries know what executives are.

      The primary ingredient of Torgo's Executive Powder?

  • by rAiNsT0rm (877553) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @11:51AM (#31808854) Homepage

    I worked in the game industry for about 10 years (PS1-PS2) and I've said it here for years, game companies are putting themselves out of business. The development and production costs have gotten so far out of hand that only "safe" games can be made. Sequels, franchises, licensed crap. No one can afford to take a chance any more, and almost every great game back in the day came from risk. The great games that have had massive support and funding end up having every corner rounded off in the name of wider appeal or time/money constraints. The only games that have managed to be risky and creative are the super small indie games which I think deserve the spotlight these days. It is a steady decline regardless of the profits and numbers. In another few years it is game over and the 1980's crash will come again. Consoles will disappear instead of arcades. It's sad, it's sad to see developers and designers get screwed even more than they already were, but this shake up will knock all of the garbage out of the system and bring it back down to reality and well designed games.

    • Even as Sierra became a bigger game company (up until say 1995), the games they made were somewhat risque and I think they were able to try it out simply because of the low(er) budget constraints. I won't say their adventure games were cheap to make relative to industry costs but, I think games of this sort are more sustainable than the latest 3-D shooter. Without the smaller budgets, we might not have seen games like Police Quest, Space Quest and Leisure Suit Larry (don't get me started on the newer 3-D ga

    • by jlebrech (810586)

      mount and blade, sins of a solar empire, anno 1404, torchlight deserve a mention. just go for pc only games when buying for pc. instead of keyboardified console games.

    • That's just the thing though... more and more people are getting into gaming all over the world. As the population grows, the market is just going to keep getting larger. So the cost of the game can be recouped for a lower cost per unit sold in greater volumes. The higher price point will prevent many of those customers from paying for the product, resulting in either the same profit for the Developer/Publisher and a higher cost for the consumer (bad for customers) rather than the same profit for the Dev an

      • by anarche (1525323)

        To summarize: I feel major devs should take the philosophy of cheaper games to more people (the population just goes up!), along with lighter games at lower costs as a way to keep revenue flowing between blockbusters and to keep actual "game-play" creation skills sharp. Because the lighter, smaller, cheaper game can't rely on uber graphics and next gen tech and famous voice actors to carry them. And one of their lighter games that succeeds beyond expectations could become their next AAA title with a sequel and funding to match. So their potential AAA IP pool is also increase with this development philosophy.

        So Nintendo should keep pumping out Wii games then?

  • by Dunbal (464142) * on Sunday April 11, 2010 @12:16PM (#31809044)

    When there is a lot of money involved. Just like Peter Jackson and New Line Cinema. Everyone wants a bigger share of the pie. The execs should realize that it was the activision TEAM that helped produce the product, and the company should realize that the two "idiots" they are suing delivered the best selling game ever.

    But no, humans are and will always be factious.

    • by BrookHarty (9119)

      No way, everyone knows the CEO makes the company, thats why they are paid millions or even billions! ;)

  • are really turning into software nazi's arent they ... must have been founded in the hip 70s probably
  • West & Zampella start Respawn Entertainment [latimes.com], partner up with EA.
  • If this was programmers or engineers or somebody who had a little more relationship with games from Inifinity Ward instead of it being one of the "fat cats", I would probably hop on /. and defend the dudes from Inifinity Ward.

    This does not mean that Activision is any better, but when it is execs suing each other, than I honestly only care about it enough to type out this response here.
    Move along. Nothing to see here

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