THQ almost signed Respawn, but didn’t over IP ownership

“My responsibility to our stockholders and to my CEO and the company is to build an IP library. [If we let Zampella and West keep their IPs it would] open the doors for everyone else to say, ‘I wanna own it too.'” – THQ vice president Danny Bilson

“As for the IP ownership, frankly, after what we’d just been through with Activision, owning the IP we were going to create was important to us.” – Vince Zampella

I’d say THQ made the smart move. With all the lawsuits going on it could be quite some time before we see anything out of Respawn, and you can’t blame THQ for wanting to own all their IPs.


Activision seeks $400 mln damages from EA over West and Zampella

Dec 22 (Reuters) – Activision Blizzard Inc _(ATVI.O) is seeking $400 million damages from Electronic Arts Inc (ERTS.O) in a lawsuit related to its “Call of Duty” video game franchise, court filings showed. In a complaint filed with California Superior Court for Los Angeles County on Tuesday, Activision sought to add Electronic Arts as a defendant in a case against two former executives who developed the “Call of Duty” video game franchise.

Link, Check after the break for excerpts from Activision’s legal brief.

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Kotick: I never expected West and Zampella to do the ‘stuff’ they did

“[West and Zampella will] have a really hard time ever being productive or successful ever again.”

“It shook my belief in two specific people, who were my friends… The frustrating thing about that is, the stuff that these guys did, I never would have expected them to do. We’re a public company, we’ve got ethics obligations, and the things they did were… I would go to jail if I did them.”

“You can’t use the company and the company’s assets for your own personal benefit, and you can’t use the leverage that you might have for personal benefit – you’re not allowed to do that! And so we didn’t have any choice.”

“[Activision] knew what the consequences would be [when West and Zampella left]… When we bought the company, they were 20 or 30 guys – these were guys that shared vacation homes together, they were all best friends, they were at each other’s weddings. We knew that when we had to fire Jason and Vince we were going to lose a lot of really talented people,”

“That’s one of those really difficult decisions as the CEO of a company, where you step back and say, ‘No good is going to come of this. They’re going to leave and probably have a really hard time ever being productive or successful ever again, and we’re going to lose some talented people, and there’s nothing we can do about it.’ And there wasn’t.” – Bobby Kotick, Activision CEO


EA: Respawn has not yet decided on their next project

“The thing everybody needs to remember is they [Respawn’s Vince Zampella and Jason West] were starting at absolute zero… This is two guys who really know what they’re doing having to go find a place for the team, buy chairs and desks and furniture, find new technology from the ground up, and pull a team together. I need to get HR people and contracts. There are all kinds of things and administration that need to take place… Amongst all that administration they’ve pulled together the core of a fantastic team and they’re starting to work on a whole bunch of ideas to try and find what is going to be the one right idea for us.”

“It’s like the Pope coming from the group of cardinals… You just wait for the smoke to come up and they share with you. We’re sitting there waiting for the smoke to come up and when it does we’ll call you.” – David DeMartini, EA Partners boss


Respawn to have ‘big time announcement’ at E3

Vince Zampella and Jason West big time announcement at E3 next week. stay tuned, kiddies! – EA via facebook

Just last week EA was claiming that they knew nothing about Respawn’s plans and that they haven’t even had a chance to sit down and toss out ideas.  Now one week later there is going to be some kind of ‘big time announcement’ next week.  Things sure do move fast nowadays…

Fibbing exec statements aside, I’m just excited to see what the guys are working on.



EA: Modern Warfare franchise has been ‘damaged’

“I don’t like to see that go on in our industry at all… That was a hugely successful franchise. I’m sure Vince and Jason didn’t want to get fired and now looking at it the whole thing’s kind of blown up.”

“A franchise is damaged – maybe never to be the same again. But then at the same time other things spring up. As one thing dies, you have Respawn popping up, who are going to do other great things in collaboration with us now.”

“You know, I guess everything happens for a reason. You just kind of look at a situation and you shake your head and go ‘How did this all come to be?’. But it did come to be and we just couldn’t be happier to work with Vince and Jason and the team at Respawn.” – EA Partners boss David DeMartini

Nothing like rubbing a little salt in the old Activision / Infinity Ward wound.



Pachter: Investor concerns over Infinity Ward situation are ‘overblown’

“The company has had a recent spate of negative publicity… The Infinity Ward soap opera compounded investor concerns about the health of the Guitar Hero franchise, which had seen sales decline from around $1 billion in 2008 to around $600 million in 2009. Given that the most recent Infinity Ward game, Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2, generated close to $1 billion in revenues since its November 2009 release, investor concerns about declining revenues at Activision have crescendoed with the almost daily Infinity Ward employee defections. We think that the bad news is largely behind Activision. While investors are likely to remain concerned about the health of Guitar Hero and the potential for a revenue decline from the next iteration of Modern Warfare, we think that these concerns are overblown.

Activision has retained the bulk of the Infinity Ward team, and has a pool of over 2000 talented developers in Southern California to draw upon. Given that the bonuses claimed by the 38 employees average $2 million each for two years of work (roughly ten times the average developer salary), we believe that Activision will have no problem replacing the departed employees. The next version of Modern Warfare will likely use the same game engine, and we believe that 15 million of the approximately 20 million purchasers of the last version are genuinely unaware of the Infinity Ward controversy.

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Bobby Kotick explains firing of Modern Warfare creators

Since we terminated the two executives at Infinity Ward, approximately 35 others have resigned and it is likely that a few more people will leave, as well. Many of these people have been recruited by other studios because of how talented they are. We are obviously disappointed about this and we wish we could have convinced some of these incredibly talented people to stay.

The decision to terminate the two Infinity Ward executives was not done lightly. It was not done to deprive them of their bonuses, nor was it done without a great deal of deliberation about the consequences.

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EA: Respawn deal “fell into our laps”

“[The Respawn deal] was something that fell into our laps, after they were terminated and announced they were free and independent, and we went for it… The fact that those guys are doing what they’re doing, we’re very excited.” – EA Games label president Frank Gibeau



Pachter: CoD moving towards subscription model, ATVI is a “buying opportunity”

“We think that this situation has escalated well beyond what the company intended. In our view, the company will ultimately resolve this matter, will reach a settlement with the affected employees, and will pay out retention bonuses to keep future losses at Infinity Ward to a minimum. We think that the company is on the path to subscriptions, and that West and Zampella did not wish to work on that kind of game, leading to their termination. We think that over the next two years, Activision will introduce a subscription game, and think that annual Call of Duty revenues and profits will likely rise rather than decline. The market reaction to the lawsuits suggests that investors have the opposite view, which, in our opinion, creates a buying opportunity.” – Wedbush analyst, Michael Pachter