Activision attempted to hack Zampella/West email - report

Project Icebreaker unveiled in court documents.

Activision attempted to hack into email and phone messages belonging to Infinity Ward bosses Jason West and Vince Zampella prior to the pair's dismissal in 2010, according to documents pertaining to the forthcoming court battle between the two parties.

A deposition transcript obtained by Giant Bomb detailed an internal Activision scheme dubbed Project Icebreaker from 2009, in which the publisher's chief legal officer George Rose tasked the IT director Thomas Fenady with gaining access to the Modern Warfare creators' computers.

Fenady, who now works at Warner Bros., claimed that Rose asked him to "dig up dirt on Jason and Vince" because "we just want to get rid of them."

He was allegedly warned not to get caught, though Rose supposedly added that "Bobby [Kotick, Activision CEO] will take care of you… Don't worry about repercussions."

Fenady also described a few of the ways in which Activision considered gaining to access to the machines.

Microsoft were reportedly asked to help crack West and Zampella's password, but refused to do so without a court order. A third party security firm called InGuardians was also contacted, but it apparently "didn't feel comfortable" with the "legal hurdles."

Finally, Fenady testified that Activision also discussed staging a fire drill or mock fumigation at Infinity Ward's HQ, giving it time to rifle through West and Zampella's computers.

"I only know it was discussed," explained Farday, "I don't think it was acted upon."

Rose denied giving the order to "dig up dirt" but confirmed that Activision had attempted to access the pair's email, albeit unsuccessfully.

Lawyers representing Zampella and West are including the information in their case in an attempt to prove that Activision wanted them out well before their eventual 2010 sacking.

The case is due to start on 29th May. As reported yesterday, Activision's connected dispute with EA - which Zampella and West later signed a development deal with - has been settled out of court.

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Fred Dutton

Fred Dutton

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Fred Dutton is Eurogamer's US news editor, based in Washington DC.


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