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Report: Activision tried to 'get rid of' ex-Infinity Ward heads through IT brute force

With the trial between Activision and former Infinity Ward leads about to get underway, a new filing has revealed that Activision may have tried to "dig up dirt" on the Call of Duty creators well before they lost their jobs in 2010.

Tom Curtis, Blogger

May 16, 2012

2 Min Read

The ongoing legal conflict between Activision and ex-Infinity Ward leads Jason West and Vince Zampella got a bit more interesting today, as a newly-released court document claims that Activision launched an internal investigation against the Call of Duty creators eight months before they finally lost their jobs. The filing, received by Giant Bomb, notes that Activision's former director of IT, Thomas Fenady, has testified that he received instructions to “dig up dirt on Jason and Vince” back in 2009 because “we're sick of dealing with those guys, their ego... we just want to get rid of them." Fenady's allegedly received these orders from former chief legal officer (and current chief policy officer) George Rose, who assured Fenady that Activision CEO Bobby Kotick would protect him from any problems that should arise while tapping into West and Zampella's work email, computer, and phones. Fenady quotes Rose as saying, "Bobby [Kotick] will take care of you. This comes from Bobby directly... Don't worry about the repercussions." When carrying out the investigation, which became known as "Project Icebreaker," Fenady contacted Microsoft and digital security company InGuardians, hoping to gain covert access to West and Zampella's passwords and data. Both companies refused to help, however, as they didn't want to face any legal complications. Fenady even testified that with Rose's blessing, he and his team discussed staging a fake fumigation or mock fire drill at Infinity Ward, keeping West and Zampella away from their computers long enough to allow Activision to image the contents of their work computers. During his own testimony, Rose denied asking Fenady to "dig up dirt" on the Infinity Ward heads, though he noted that he asked the IT department to allow him to monitor all of Infinity Ward's email traffic, though these efforts allegedly proved unsuccessful. Given these recent developments, Activision hopes to dismiss Fenady's testimony under attorney-client privilege, though West and Zampella's lawyers hope to use this evidence to prove that Activision planned to remove them from the company prior to the infamous falling out in 2010. It's important to note that regardless of how things played out with "Project Icebreaker," Activision led additional investigations against West and Zampella around this same time. Giant Bomb reports that Activision previously asked its studios to seek evidence about potential misconduct from West and Zampella. The company was particularly concerned that the pair had entered talks with Activision's competitors, including Electronic Arts. Once the pair lost their jobs at Infinity Ward, they joined EA to found their new studio, Respawn Entertainment. The actual case between Activision and West and Zampella is about to get underway, with a trial currently scheduled for May 29.

About the Author(s)

Tom Curtis


Tom Curtis is Associate Content Manager for Gamasutra and the UBM TechWeb Game Network. Prior to joining Gamasutra full-time, he served as the site's editorial intern while earning a degree in Media Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.

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