Former Infinity Ward boss Vince Zampella deliberately conspired against his then-employer Activision by holding back the release of a Modern Warfare 2 map pack until after the release of EA's Battlefield: Bad Company 2, court documents made public today suggest.
An internal email regarding Modern Warfare 2's Stimulus Pack written by EA executive Lincoln Hershberger and included in a court filing by Activision reads:
"A couple months ago, I asked Vince to hold back their map pack until after we launched (he owes me one). Given that they've already made a billion, he was cool with that, obviously (Activision CEO) Kotick took it as being belligerent."
EA spokesman Jeff Brown has since told Kotaku that the email was written in jest.
"This was obviously sarcasm. It's clear from the email this was a joke and they never spoke. We explained this to lawyers at Activision – who apparently don't have much of a sense of humor."
The email had previously been redacted by the court along with a sentence that read "Activision is informed and believes that to protect its weaker BFBC series, EA secretly schemed with West and Zampella to bolster sales of BFBC at the expense of Call of Duty."
The redaction was lifted this week after the court ceded to Activision's request last month to add EA to its legal action against West and Zampella. It's asking for $400 million, claiming EA attempted to lure the pair away while they were still under contract to the Call of Duty publisher.
Other newly un-redacted statements in the filing detail alleged discussions held at EA about hiring the pair. One excerpt reads: "In the second week of November 2009, an EA executive informed Brown that he was meeting 'to discuss deal structures' and would 'get with' Brown later in the week.
"That same week, Blackley advised Riccitiello: 'We need to talk about our two friends down here - all is good but its time for a more aggressive approach.'"
Zampella and West were sacked by Activision in March, with their former bosses at the publisher alleging they were "insubordinate and self-serving schemers who attempted to hijack Activision's assets for their own personal gain."
The pair then launched a legal action, claiming Activision had withheld royalties owed to them for their work on the Call of Duty franchise.
In April, EA announced it had signed a multi-game deal with Zampella and West's new outfit, Respawn Entertainment.