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EA, Activision settle ‘Call of Duty’ lawsuit

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Jason West and Vince Zampella (Getty Images)

One of the ugliest lawsuits in the video game industry's history has been settled just days before going to court, but the legal fireworks may not be over yet.

Activision and Electronic Arts have settled their differences over Jason West and Vince Zampella, former heads of Infinity Ward and creators of the Call of Duty franchise and "agreed to put this matter behind them," the two publishers said in a joint statement.

The peaceful resolution is a far cry from the mudslinging that has been going on since 2010, when Activision accused EA of "poaching" the developers, who were under contract. (It escalated things by suing EA in December of that year.)

Terms of the settlement were not released, though analysts say it was likely for little, if any, cash.

While the agreement concludes one legal battle for Activision, the suit filed by West and Zampella, which accuses the company of breaking its contract when it fired the pair, is still moving forward. It's set to go to trial May 29 — and that fight is still as ugly as ever.

Giant Bomb was sent a recent court filing from West and Zampella's legal team that claims Activision launched an internal investigation eight months before their dismissal, which was meant to "dig up dirt" on the duo because Activision was "sick of dealing with those guys, their ego... we just want to get rid of them."

The filing accuses Activision of tapping into West and Zampella's work email, computer, and phones. Yahoo! Games has reached out to Activision for comment on the filing, but has not yet heard back from the company.

Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter, though, suggests the settlement of the EA case could signal Activision's willingness to end the fight with West and Zampella as well.

"We believe that the settlement agreement signals that Activision will not attempt to block or delay the first release from Respawn Entertainment (the pair's new company, which is currently making a game for EA)," he wrote in a note to investors. "We also believe that Activision is unlikely to receive a material judgment against Mr. West and Mr. Zampella, as the pair were fired by the company. In our view, it is far more likely that Mr. West and Mr. Zampella will receive a material amount of compensation from Activision."

Earlier this week, Activision paid out $42 million to a group of former Infinity Ward developers (not including West and Zampella) who were suing for unpaid bonuses. That payment reportedly came after an internal review at Activision and was not a settlement.

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