Kotick: 'there was no gray area' in Infinity Ward firings; studio being strengthened

Bobby Kotick
Bobby Kotick / image credit: dfarber

During a quarterly earnings call this afternoon, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick took the opportunity to address (what else?) the ongoing Infinity Ward situation his company is currently embroiled in. "The decision [...] to terminate the two Infinity Ward executives, was not done lightly," Kotick admitted. "And it was not done to deprive them of their bonuses, nor was it done without a great deal of deliberation about the consequences."

Those consequences have varied from lawsuits, countersuits, studio departures ("approximately 35 others have resigned and it is likely that a few more people will leave as well," Kotick said), the formation of Respawn Entertainment, to another ongoing lawsuit from the Infinity Ward Employee Group.

After calling Infinity Ward founders West and Zampella "friends," Kotick said, "Once we began to understand what had occurred, there was no gray area. There was nothing that would have allowed us to retain their services, as talented as they might have been." But even with the loss of West and Zampella, and the 35 others that have resigned, Kotick maintains, "We have a great team in place at Infinity Ward, which continues to work on downloadable content and the studio's next unannounced project."

And he wants you to know that any rumors you've heard about a closure of the studio are not only inaccurate, they're the opposite of what's really going on. "We continue to support the culture of excellence that has defined Infinity Ward and we're already strengthening the studio with additional talent and financial resources." Well, we already assumed "additional talent," what with the considerable dent in the staff and all. Read Kotick's full statement after the break.
The team at Infinity Ward today is comprised of some of the most talented people in the video game industry. They're an incredibly well-respected group who are motivated and, obviously, extraordinarily capable.

Since we terminated the two executives at Infinity Ward, approximately 35 others have resigned and it is likely that a few more people will leave as well. Many of these people have been recruited by other studios because of how talented they are. We are obviously disappointed about this and we wish we could have convinced some of these incredibly talented people to stay.

The decision though, to terminate the two Infinity Ward executives, was not done lightly. And it was not done to deprive them of their bonuses, nor was it done without a great deal of deliberation about the consequences.

The background leading up to our decision to separate the two former Infinity Ward executives for breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty is outlined in our cross complaint that we filed in April, which I'm sure many of you have read.

Against this background, we felt we had no choice but to terminate the two Infinity Ward executives. We did this to protect the company's assets and the interests of our shareholders.

I personally considered the two of them friends and their conduct was a compromise of our friendship, which was equally disappointing. Once we began to understand what had occurred, there was no gray area. There was nothing that would have allowed us to retain their services, as talented as they might have been.

This is an example of our commitment to pursuing the difficult right rather than the easier wrong. Our actions were firmly rooted in our longstanding values of integrity and an expectation that our employees, who signed and acknowledge our code of conduct, will behave with the highest ethical standards.

We have a great team in place at Infinity Ward, which continues to work on downloadable content and the studio's next unannounced project. We continue to support the culture of excellence that has defined Infinity Ward and we're already strengthening the studio with additional talent and financial resources.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.