Jason West and Vince Zampella, the Infinity Ward studio heads fired by Activision earlier this week, are to sue the publisher for wrongful dismissal, unpaid royalties and the right to control "Modern Warfare-branded games".
They've issued a strongly-worded statement via their lawyers responding to Activision's claims of "insubordination".
The statement claims that, in Call of Duty and Modern Warfare, West and Zampella created "two of the most successful videogames in history" and, get this, "the most successful entertainment product ever offered to the public".
"Activision terminated their employment weeks before they were to be paid substantial royalty payments as part of their existing contracts for Modern Warfare 2," the statement reads.
"Instead of thanking, lauding, or just plain paying Jason and Vince for giving Activision the most successful entertainment product ever offered to the public, last month Activision hired lawyers to conduct a pretextual 'investigation' into unstated and unsubstantiated charges of 'insubordination' and 'breach of fiduciary duty,' which then became the grounds for their termination on Monday, March 1st," said their attorney, Robert Schwartz.
Jason West said, "We were shocked by Activision's decision to terminate our contract. We poured our heart and soul into that company, building not only a world-class development studio, but assembling a team we've been proud to work with for nearly a decade. We think the work we've done speaks for itself."
"After all we have given to Activision, we shouldn't have to sue to get paid," Zampella said.
"Activision seized control of the Infinity Ward studio, to which Activision had previously granted creative control over all Modern Warfare-branded games," the statement concludes. "The suit was filed to vindicate the rights of West and Zampella to be paid the compensation they have earned, as well as the contractual rights Activision granted to West and Zampella to control Modern Warfare-branded games."
In legalese, that translates to a suit claiming for "breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, wrong termination in violation of public policy, and declaratory relief".
There has clearly been a power struggle between Activision and the Infinity Ward bosses over the future of the Call of Duty franchise. Within 24 hours of dismissing the pair, Activision had announced plans to expand Call of Duty with two or three new games in the next two years, an action-adventure game from its new Sledgehammer studio, and pushes into new markets, different genres and new ways of making even bigger piles of money.
That power struggle is now headed for the courts, and we think this one's going to be ugly, kids.