A lawsuit has been filed by Spark Unlimited, creators of Call of Duty: Finest Hour, accusing publisher Activision of breach of contract and a litany of unethical behaviour, and demanding $10 million in damages and compensation.
The suit centres on the development of Finest Hour and the subsequent dropping of Spark from development plans for sequels to the game - with the direct sequel, Call of Duty: Big Red One, being worked on by Grey Matter and Treyarch instead.
Spark alleges that Activision originally contracted it to create three games, with Finest Hour being the first, and gradually forced the developer to accept lower royalties and more difficult terms on the strength of being contracted to make further titles for it.
However, far from continuing to work with the studio, Spark alleges that Activision then attempted to kill off the developer entirely.
"Activision refused to pay Spark the royalties owed on Finest Hour or the bridge financing due under the contract, stole Spark's idea, and then hired away Spark's own employees to develop that sequel, hoping that if Spark was sufficiently crippled, Spark would be unable to protect its rights," the filing against the publisher - which has been acquired by US website GameSpot - reads.
Other aspects of the lawsuit include a claim that Activision charged the developer almost $1.9 million in unauthorised developer assistance costs after Spark implemented a multiplayer mode in the game, which had not been part of the original design, and that Spark presented ideas for a sequel focusing on Operation Husky and Big Red One, which were "summarily rejected" by Activision but which are now included in the sequel being worked on by Treyarch and Grey Matter.
"Activision then breached the development agreement by failing to negotiate in good faith over a second and third product, and refused to provide any meaningful bridge funding," the filing accuses. "Indeed, Activision simply waited until Call of Duty: Finest Hour was virtually complete and then abandoned its relationship with Spark."
As is standard practice in cases where legal proceedings are underway, Activision is not commenting officially on the lawsuit.
Spark is now working for Atari developing a series of titles for next-generation consoles.