Saturday, December 25, 2010

Great Success with "Black Ops" Despite the Legal Issues Activision is Facing

Activision Blizzard, the video game producer of game franchises like “Call of Duty” and “World of Warcraft,” is looking to add Electronic Arts to the already ongoing lawsuit that was originally filed against two former Activision employees. According to Activision, EA tried to “destabilize, disrupt and destroy” their company.

The legal issues began back in March 2010 when Jason West and Vince Zampella, the founders of “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare” developer Infinity Ward (which was acquired by Activision in 2003), sued Activision. They filed the lawsuit against Activision for allegedly firing them so that the company could avoid paying royalties for the $1 billion game.

Activision claimed that the two men were fired on March 1, 2010 for reasons including “breach of contract” and “insubordination,” and the company even went as far as to have the two men escorted out of their offices during a work day by a security team.

In April the men formed yet another video game studio that they named Respawn. They then proceeded to sign a very exclusive publishing and distribution contract with Activision’s biggest rival, Electronic Arts. After word of the contract got out, Activision then decided to countersue for breach of contract and employee poaching.

According to the document that was filed with the California Superior Court in Los Angeles on Tuesday, December 21, Activision is adding EA to its complaints and is suing for a total of $400 million.

An amended complaint that was posted by Kotaku claimed that Activision said that EA was allegedly funding some sort of way for West and Zampella to poach key talent from Activision.

"Unable to compete with Activision and Infinity Ward, and upon information and belief, enraged by the recent defection of two Electronic Arts executives to Activision (unlike West and Zampella, the executives who left Electronic Arts were not under employment contracts) Electronic Arts was determined to retaliate. Electronic Arts set out to destabilize, disrupt and to attempt to destroy Infinity Ward,” Activision wrote.

EA did not immediately respond to many different requests for comments, but finally spokesman Jeff Brown said, “This is a PR play filled with pettiness and deliberate misdirection. Activision wants to hide the fact that they have no credible response to the claim of two artists who were fired and now just want to get paid for their work."
On December 21, the same day that Activision filed their complaints with the California Superior Court about EA, the company also announced that its “Call of Duty: Black Ops” had shown no signs of slowing down and had brought in more than $1 billion in worldwide sales since the game's release in November.

"In all of entertainment, only 'Call of Duty' and 'Avatar' have ever achieved the billion dollar revenue milestone this quickly," Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard, said in a statement. "This is a tribute to the global appeal of the Call of Duty franchise, the exceptional talent at Treyarch and the hundreds of extraordinary people across our many Call of Duty studios, including Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer, that work tirelessly on the franchise."

As of Tuesday players of Black Ops have collectively logged in close to 600 million hours of gameplay. Most of the people who own the game log on more than once a day and usually play for more than an hour. Activision also said that more than half of that time is being spent playing against friends.

When the game was first released on November 9, Activision sold more than $650 million worth of games in the first five days. This exceeded the previous top earner “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2” which sold about $100 million less than “Black Ops.” By the end of the month, Activision had sold 8.4 million units.

Activision is obviously having some problems with all of the lawsuits and counter lawsuits, but they are definitely continuing to do well concerning “Black Ops” and many of their other games. It will take some time for them to sort through all the legal mess, but in the meantime, they will continue to produce incredible games and further their company. They might even possibly address the rumored and highly debated release of Modern Warfare 3 soon. Until then, we will all have to sit back and wait to see what happens. is news of, for and by SMBs! The Small & Medium Business Magazine!

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