Thursday, April 29, 2010

Activision finally does evil

Things sure have been getting interesting at Activision lately. Weeks ago we saw word that Activision fired their shining stars at Infinity Ward – developers of the wildly popular Modern Warfare series. And in recent days we’ve seen a flurry of accusations regarding intrusive and abrasive interrogation sessions where Activision sequestered the leaders and threatened to fire them for insubordination if they didn’t answer the questions or left. They also reportedly threatened to fire them if they attempted to answer the questions naturally put to them from their other staff members about the happenings. Activision, reading reports by Infinity Ward staff, created an atmosphere of uncertainty, fear, and worry throughout this period and wielded that atmosphere like a club. In fact Activision must have known their actions would result in the resignations of many of the staff because they changed their bonus policy during this time so that any who left would forfeit their earnings from the Modern Warfare 2 release.

Although details are sketchy it does sound as if Activision had at least a modicum of justification to go after as they were reportedly shopping their talents around to other publishers. Apparently wanting to work on new IP when your current publisher only wants you to milk the existing IP. Activision isn’t interested in a project unless it’s something they can release annually and will generate at least $100 million dollars. There is something to be said for the boss calling the shots, so to speak. But individuals have the right to decide for themselves where they will work and in this case Activision apparently found out their shining stars were casting glances abroad and created an incident in order to justify keeping millions of dollars that they would otherwise have had to pay to the Infinity Ward staff. Of course the plan seems to have backfired as all but 12 of the Infinity Ward staff have left Activision, and at least some of the remaining 12 may have already, or are in the process of leaving too. Of course the end result is Activision sueing Infinity Ward and Infinity Ward sueing Activision.

What is Activision to do when one of their big profit meal tickets jump ship? Find a new meal ticket apparently. News comes today that Activision has inked a 10-year deal with Bungie to develop new projects. Bungie will remain independent, with Activision serving as publisher/distributor. While the court battles between Infinity Ward and Activision will roll along for years, Activision is showing that to them Infinity Ward was so “yesterday”.