Analysts and Experts Weigh-in on Activision-Infinity Ward Controversy

Nathan Grayson

Yesterday, we brought you word of a rapidly escalating quarrel between Modern Warfare 2 developer Infinity Ward and publisher Activision that culminated in the firings of two Infinity Ward bosses. On one side of the spat, there was Activision -- playing the part of the dejected parent who was forced to administer some tough love to its “insubordinate” child. Meanwhile, Infinity Ward positioned itself on the receiving end of Activision’s volley, claiming to be “confused” and “freaked out.”

Were Activision’s seemingly shady actions warranted, though? And is Infinity Ward really the innocent little lamb to Activision’s money-hungry wolf? A few analysts gave their two cents on the situation.

First up, speaking with GamePro , videogame industry legal expert Tom Buscaglia took Activision to task for what he believes to be an underhanded “last resort.”

"I did employment law for 20 years," he said. "In my experience, insubordination is a justification of last resort because it's completely subjective. If I see that [in a wrongful termination lawsuit], it's usually complete bullshit."

"In any game, somebody has to be the keeper of the vision," Buscaglia said, speaking of former IW bosses Zampella and West. "So now [Activision’s] killed the goose, but they have a golden egg."

However, Infinity Ward may not have been playing entirely by the rules either. Speaking with Joystiq , analysts Michael Pachter and Jesse Divnich pointed out that Activision’s rumored refusal to fork over IW’s royalty fees was far from abnormal.

"I couldn't speak to what the royalty agreement between Activision and Infinity Ward is,” Divnich said. “If royalties haven't been paid out yet, I wouldn't consider that too alarming. The game has only been out for a little over 90 days. Additionally, it is common to see royalty agreements based upon factors such as hitting release date, review scores (a.k.a. 'Metacritic Clauses') or revenue milestones. I think if you just replace the word 'royalties' with 'bonus' it should make some more sense."

So there you go: a couple more threads for an already extremely tangled web. Oh well. Closure’s overrated anyway, right?

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