Activision targets EA in $400 million lawsuit

Dec 22, 2010

(AP) -- Activision Blizzard Inc., the video game maker behind the smash-hit shooter "Call of Duty: Black Ops," on Tuesday added a new target in its lawsuit against two former executives: rival Electronic Arts Inc. Activision also put a price tag on its claim for the first time, seeking $400 million.

The amended complaint filed in the Los Angeles Superior Court is the latest salvo in a legal shootout that began when Jason West and Vince Zampella sued for $36 million in March, claiming Activision fired them to avoid paying royalties for their work on the "Call of Duty" franchise.

Activision, owned by France's Vivendi SA, claims EA lured the men away, starting as early as July 2009, despite their having two years left on their contract, in part by using talent agency Creative Artists Agency as an intermediary. It alleges EA dispatched a private jet to Southern California to shuttle West and Zampella to a secret meeting at the home of EA's chief executive John Riccitiello near San Francisco in August 2009.

The two later formed Respawn Entertainment, hiring about 40 employees away from Activision. Respawn said in April it will create games exclusively for release by EA.

In the complaint, Activision alleges that EA intentionally interfered with contracts, engaged in unfair competition and aided and abetted breaches of fiduciary duty by the executives.

EA, which is based in Redwood City, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

West and Zampella did not directly work on the "Black Ops" , which Activision said Tuesday had exceeded $1 billion in . The men's unit at Activision, Infinity Ward, works on roughly every other game in the "Call of Duty" franchise with Activision subsidiary Treyarch.

Shares of Activision, which is based in Santa Monica, rose 10 cents to $12.33 in after-hours trading on Tuesday, after closing up 2 cents at $12.23. shares were unchanged in extended trading after closing up 8 cents at $15.93.

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