EA v ActiVision - Winner Is…?

Amidst the Schwarzenegger v. EMA/ESA court battle, there is another battle that has been going on. That would be the battle between gaming industry giants, EA and ActiVision. Slightly less direct, but just as well known, EA and ActiVision have been battling it out through the use of press releases and interviews for some time now. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, let me weigh you in…

EA and ActiVision have always been rivals; they’re like the Microsoft v Apple of the video game industry. However, the battle hit a new height in March when ActiVision fired Infinity Ward CEOs Jason West and Vince Zampella over a suspected meeting with EA, claiming breach of contract.

Ironically, it was only 8 years ago that West and Zampella transferred from EA to ActiVision! Unknown to many, West and Zampella were not only responsible for ActiVision’s Call of Duty franchise, they began EA’s Medal of Honor franchise!

In my opinion, EA and ActiVision should just set up shop beside one another, because West and Zampella were not the first to “switch sides”, and I doubt they will be the last!

In July of 2009, the team behind Dead Space, an EA release, moved on over to ActiVision, and are the same people now working on a new Call of Duty game. In addition to that, ActiVision president Kathy Vrabeck quit and landed herself a position as head of EA’s Casual division.

West and Zampella then went on to create Respawn Entertainment. Their first order of business? Well, that would be granting EA “exclusive worldwide publishing and distribution rights to future games.”

ActiVision CEO Bobby Kotick stayed true to his outspoken self, and was the first to hit - and he hit hard. In UK’s gaming magazine, Edge, Kotick slammed EA as a whole by stating “The core principle of how we run the company is the exact opposite of EA … EA will buy a developer and then it will become ‘EA Florida,’ ‘EA Vancouver,’ ‘EA New Jersey,’ whatever. We always looked and said, ‘You know what? What we like about a developer is that they have a culture, they have an independent vision and that’s what makes them so successful.’ We don’t have an ActiVision anything-it’s Treyarch, Infinity Ward, Sledgehammer.”

Kotick then went on to say “The most difficult challenge [EA] faces today is: great people don’t really want to work there,” Kotick said. “It’s like, if you have no other option, you might consider them.”

Not only is Kotick bashing EA, now he’s also bashing other independent studios such as Valve, by referring to ActiVision partner, Bungie as the “last remaining high-quality independent developer.”

Kotick then went on to tell Edge magazine that he was aware firing West and Zampella would result in losing many more talented employees. Although, at times he seemed saddened by their loss, Kotick ended the interview, belittling West and Zampella, claiming they were “going to leave and probably have a really hard time ever being productive or successful ever again.”

EA’s VP of Communications,  Jeff Brown, then stepped up to the plate to defend EA and bash ActiVision by stating “Kotick’s relationship with studio talent is well-documented in litigation… His company is based on three game franchises - one is a fantastic persistent world he had nothing to do with; one is in steep decline; and the third is in the process of being destroyed by Kotick’s own hubris.”

When referring to “Kotick’s own hubris”, Brown is talking about the Call of Duty franchise, which is obviously sitting in limbo after West and Zampella were fired. The other two franchises? Well, that of course is the “fantastic persistent world” that is World of Warcraft and the declining Guitar Hero franchise.

The battle between EA and ActiVision didn’t end there, and I’m sure it isn’t going to end anytime soon. Sadly, at a time when the state of California has an ongoing court battle against the Electronic Merchant Association / Electronic Software Association , this high school BS is really the last thing we need to happen to the video game industry. When will these high school antics stop and these companies just do their job and create great games. There’a reason politicians are so highly hated - because they don’t do their jobs, they just sit around pointing fingers. Perhaps EA and ActiVision will finally grow up and stop their bickering? Until then, let me know what you think about the battle between EA and ActiVision! Leave a comment below!

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