Bungie – Activision Contract Unsealed as Part of West & Zampella Lawsuit

Documents from the legal battle between Activision and former Infinity Ward studio leads Jason West and Vincent Zampella have been unsealed revealing a bunch of details on the contract between Bungie and Activision. According to the LA Times, the documents are part of the case because the duo's lawyer Robert M. Schwartz is using the details of that deal to demand compensation for his clients. We'll get to that in a minute, but first some background on Bungie's deal (you can read the collection of documents at the LA Times as well).

A 27-page agreement between Bungie and Activision calls for Bungie to develop four "science fiction – fantasy action shooter games currently code-named "Destiny" that will be released every other year starting in fourth quarter of 2013. Bungie would also release four downloadable expansion packs code-named "Comet," every other year beginning in the fourth quarter of 2014. The first Bungie game will be an Xbox 360 exclusive, as well as its sequel, though the latter will end up on what the documents call the "Xbox 720." Later games would be made for Xbox consoles as well as Sony's expected next-gen console follow-up to the PlayStation 3, and on PC.

Under the terms of the deal Bungie would be entitled to 20 – 35 percent of royalties after operating income (after various marketing, development and production costs are deducted). Activision also agreed to pay Bungie $2.5 million a year in bonuses between 2010 and 2013 if the company met certain budget and quality milestones. The company is also entitled to a $2.5 million bonus if the first Destiny game can earn a GameRankings.com score somewhere in between 90 and 100. Finally, the documents reveal that Bungie can dedicate 5 percent of its staff to develop an action shooter prototype game called "Marathon." The original game was created in 1994 for the Mac. This is the first time this information has been disclosed to the public.

The contract may have been altered prior to it going into effect in April of this year. So why are West and Zampella pointing to this Activision Bungie deal in its legal fight with the publisher?

Well according to a brief filed on May 1 by attorney Robert M. Schwartz, West and Zampella took a smaller royalty in exchange for having more creative control over the Call of Duty franchise. He argued in his brief that they are entitled to compensation for the value of that creative authority, which they believe to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars depending on how royalties are calculated. Activision and Schwartz's clients each are alleging total damages of as much as $1 billion. That's not chump change.

We'll see if any of this matters when the case begins on May 29, but it is interesting to learn more about Bungie's next big project and that the company is working on a new Marathon game.

Source: LA Times by way of Andrew Eisen.

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