Welcome to Beyond Co-Op, a weekly piece that talks about industry stories that may or may not be related to co-op gaming.
The stories for this week:
- Infinity Ward Loses Top 2 People, Lawsuits Ensue
- New Lara Croft Going to Download Delivery
- Sony "Surprise Sequel" Turns Out to Be...SOCOM 4?
- Sony ApocalyPS3 Hits PS3 Fats Last Weekend
- Final Fantasy XIII Reigns Supreme This Week
Infinity Ward Loses Top 2 People, Lawsuits Ensue
I’ll start this off by saying that we may never know the whole truth about what happened starting late Monday this past week. G4 (story here) first came out with the fact that some “bouncer type” people had shown up at the IW offices. Word would later come out that co-heads Jason West and Vince Zampella had a meeting with Activision earlier that day. This is where things started getting interesting.
The first inclination that they had indeed been let go was Jason West changing his Facebook status to “Jason West is drinking. Also unemployed” (via Kotaku) on Monday night. People started looking at the SEC filing (linked here) Activision had filed earlier that day talking about a “human resources investigation on breach of contract and insubordination by two senior officials at Infinity Ward.” They also expected lawsuits to come of it, but did not think it would hurt anything at the company.
Then things started to snowball on Tuesday as Activision did announce that both Jason and Vince were let go and that some people on the publishing arm would be moved over to run Infinity Ward. Also announced were new entries into the Call of Duty universe, including the at this point unnamed project that Glen Schofield’s Sledgehammer Games was working on. They would later say that Infinity Ward was still hard at work on another Call of Duty game, quelling rumors that the studio might just totally be shuttered.
Things were relatively quiet on Wednesday and then on Thursday West and Zampella sued Activision for breach of contract and royalties that were not paid. Kotaku was the first site to have images of the lawsuit and reading through it was quite interesting. Activision purchased 30% of IW back in 2002 for $1.5 million when the studio was just starting up. After the success of the original Call of Duty, Activision exercised its option to buy the other 70% at the price of $3.5 million. According to the documents, Activision told West and Zampella that IW would be independent without oversight, something which obviously turned 180 this pas week.
The two former employees are looking for royalty payments (which were supposedly coming at the end of this month) related to Modern Warfare 2 and any other game that uses the proprietary IW engine inside of Activision. They are also looking for creative control over all Modern Warfare games that are set in post-Vietnam as well as the near and far future, the terms of which are supposedly in an Memorandum of Understanding that everyone signed in order to retain West and Zampella before their contract ran out.
They go on to say that Activision started doing an investigation in early February and interrogated them and many IW staffpeople in a windowless room, bringing some people to tears. West and Zampella say they wanted to comfort these people, but the Activision representatives said if they did that they would breach their contract and be fired. They also say the meeting with Activision on March 1st was a sham one to get them out of the IW offices and summarily fire them.
Of course, there are two sides to every story and also on Thursday Activision came out saying they had or were looking for documented proof (e-mail maybe?) that West and Zampella had been contacting other publishers and jumping ship on them. It is well known that IW and Activision have clashed and that IW had given in to making and releasing Modern Warfare 2 and not start/continue work on other IP they were interested in. The big news was that EA was supposedly one of the companies Activision is accusing them of contacting. Most ironic because the boys originally left EA to form IW after the success of Medal of Honor: Allied Assault, developed by 2015, Inc. which both were a part of. Guess things may come full circle, eh?
There’s also probably more to this story, but we may never know about it. It should be interesting to watch the legal proceedings if it ever gets to court and isn’t settled. I just don’t understand how you release the biggest selling game of all time (in money) and you get booted before you get your royalty check for making said game. Also, we don’t know who was in the right here, although given how many people feel about Activision they probably jump to Jason and Vince’s defense by default.
Source: many in story, me
New Lara Croft Going to Download Delivery
The Tomb Raider moniker is no more. Instead the new game will be called Lara Croft & The Guardian of Light and will be downloadable only. Crystal Dynamics is still the developer and the game will be shown off behind closed doors at GDC in San Francisco next week. No word on systems as of yet, but it seems as if many companies are going the download only route here lately. Another example would be the episodic Sonic The Hedgehog 4 that was announced a bit ago
Source: Colony of Gamers
Sony "Surprise Sequel" Turns Out to Be...SOCOM 4?
Are you like me and getting a bit tired of the hyped up announcements to an announcement in the future. Earlier this week, Sony let loose that a “surprise sequel” would be announced. People started guessing at a new Twisted Metal, Sly Cooper or a number of other games. Instead, Sony announced that SOCOM 4 would be coming from Zipper Interactive. I don’t think SOCOM 3 did very well and it seems as if Zipper’s own M.A.G. trumped it. What do I know though, but this was not the type of “surprise sequel” news I was looking for from Sony.
Source: Colony of Gamers
Sony ApocalyPS3 Hits PS3 Fats Last Weekend
As the joke goes, only Sony could have a leap year time problem during a year that is not a leap year. Last weekend the original PS3 systems stopped working and they found out it was similar to the Zune problem from back in 2008 where it couldn’t accept a leap year correctly. Problem is this isn’t a leap year, but the PS3 reset the clock to January 1, 1999 sometime on Sunday. Everything is back to normal, but there were a lot of hysterical people who lost their trophies and connection to the Playstation network. See, Microsoft and Sony hold hands sometimes, like in the microchip department.
Source: Colony of Gamers
Final Fantasy XIII Reigns Supreme This Week
It’s been almost 3 and a half years since we last saw a proper Final Fantasy game. The wait is finally over and over on this side of the world you get to choose between PS3 or 360 for your version of choice. Given the screenshots I linked a few weeks ago right here, I’d recommend getting the PS3 version if you own both consoles. Obviously if you only have a 360 this is the only way you’ll be able to play it. I’ve heard good and bad things about this game with the biggest thing being that it doesn’t start to really click until about 15 hours in. Wait, what? 15 HOURS IN? I’m not sure a ton of people will have that type of patience, but I can probably handle it.
The Resident Evil 5: Gold Edition comes out this week with both DLCs along with the original game. Also, Assassin’s Creed II finally sees release on the PC and Yakuza 3, minus the hostess sub-game, shows up on PS3 this week as well. The new Dawn of War II expansion comes out, Supreme Commander 2 sees release on 360 and that’s about it.
Next week Pokemon takes on the God of War. Who will win?