Fantasy Warfare: West, Zampella and Call of Duty

In theory, former Infinity Ward heads Jason West and Vince Zampella could regain partial control of the Call of Duty franchise. We say in theory because the chances of that ever happening are somewhere between slim and none. But the two counts of fraud that the duo added to its lawsuit against Activision earlier this week also asked the court to rescind the Memorandum of Understanding agreement. If the court were to give them a favorable ruling hypothetically, the duo could co-own Call of Duty and release their own games in the series. It’s an interesting scenario to explore, even if it is on par with the plot to Independence Day in terms of likelihood.

Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter – and most anyone with an inkling of common sense say that this will never happen.

Pachter explained to IndustryGamers that the law won’t allow West and Zampella to co-own the brand because there’s no legal basis for it.

"West and Zampella have no prayer of obtaining control of the brand," stressed Pachter. "They can claim that they were granted creative control, and there is a reasonable chance that they would prevail, but they lost that control when their employment was terminated. If they can prove their termination was wrongful, they will be entitled to damages, but there is no legal basis to award ownership of the brand to them. They could conceivably change their complaint and seek reinstatement as employees, but I haven’t seen any demands from them to make that happen."

"As it happens, they have never claimed that they ‘own’ the brand; instead, they claim that they were granted creative control over the brand under their employment agreement. These are two completely different things. Their creative control was clearly intended to be in effect only while they were employees, and the day that their employment terminated, their creative control ended (made clear by Bobby’s alleged comment that "[i]t’s impossible for you guys to get fired"). Since they think that they were wrongfully terminated, they are pursuing a claim for damages, which would be the appropriate remedy."

Image source: Paperback Writer

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  1. 0
    Grif says:

    Which is kind of a double-edged sword. Without West and Zampella, CoD isn’t going to be worth nearly as much, considering they’re the ones who pulled the CoD series out of the oversaturated market that is WWII shooters. If it weren’t for them, CoD would have died years ago. And there are some, if not many, who doubt the new dev team they hired for Modern Warfare 3 can make a product as high-quality or as successful as their predecessors. I can guarantee you Black Ops wouldn’t have sold half the copies they did if they had named it something other than "Call of Duty".

    If Activision were smart, they’d swallow their pride and let them have co-ownership so they can keep milking the CoD brand for years to come.

    "Power means nothing without honor and pride." My video game review site.

  2. 0
    Monte says:

    Which is exactly why they wouldn’t get it. Without any real legal claim I do not think the judge would award them a share of the CoD brand; the only way they could get in lieu of monetary compensation is through a settlement with Activision, and Activision would certainly never do so as having an exclusive hold on the brand is bound to be much more worthwhile that whatever they would have to give up to West and Zampella. 

  3. 0
    Grif says:

    Assuming they win their case, couldn’t they try to get co-ownership of the brand in lieu of monetary compensation? I mean, I figure the CoD brand in the long run would be worth far more than anything they could get as far as damages go.

    "Power means nothing without honor and pride." My video game review site.

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