West and Zampella, Sued by Activision, Jump to EA
In the latest high stakes moves involving the creators and publishing company behind the multi-billion dollar Call of Duty action game franchise, Jason West and Vincent Zampella have announced the formation of a new company, Respawn Entertainment, along with the signing of an exclusive distribution deal with Electronic Arts, the chief rival of their former employer and current litigation opponent Activision Blizzard.
“Respawn Entertainment marks a fresh start for Jason and me,” said Vince Zampella, General Manager of Respawn Entertainment. “For the past decade we led a great development team and poured our hearts into creating an epic game franchise. We’re very proud of what we built – and proud that so many millions of fans enjoyed those games. Today we hope to do it all over again -- open a new studio, hire a great team, and create brand new games with a new partner, EA.”
“We’re excited,” added Jason West, President of Respawn Entertainment. "Now that the team is in control of the games and brands, we can ensure that the fans are treated as well as they deserve."
Frank Gibeau, President of the EA Games Label commented, “This is the start of a great publishing partnership – one that I expect will develop blockbuster game franchises. Jason and Vince are two of the top creative leaders in the entertainment industry. At EA, we’re honored to be their partners and to give them the support they need to hire a team and return to making incredible games.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, the pair behind Activision’s hugely successful series were fired March 1 amid allegations they violated their contracts by purposely slowing development of the next title while secretly looking to start an independent studio. Two days later, West and Zampella sued Activision, claiming they had been fired in order to avoid payment of millions of dollars in royalties owed on November’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 release, which has reportedly sold 20 million units and generated more than $1.3 billion in revenue. Activision countersued last week, referring to them as “self-serving schemers” in court documents, who supposedly flew by private jet to meet with EA executives at the behest of their agent at Creative Artists Agency.
The latest moves, announced this morning, further illustrate the pair’s clout. The new deal with EA, which includes the seed money used to fund Respawn, leaves the pair with complete intellectual property rights control of their future games.