Ex-Infinity Ward devs discuss Activision’s plots against them
E-mail hacks, fake fire drills and computer break-ins
Last week we saw details of the Infinity Ward vs. Activision case surface, alleging that Activision had actively tried to get developers Vince Zampella and Jason West fired, going so far as to try and hack into their e-mail.
In an interview with Gameinformer, West, Zampella and lawyer Robert Schwartz open up about the case and its details, finally discussing with the public what went down in their final days at Activision.
“They said, ‘He orchestrated his own firing’ – I will never forget that,” West said. “I said, ‘Don’t give me 100 million dollars – fire me! That would be awesome.’” West is referring to Activision’s claim that he purposefully got himself fired in order to join Electronic Arts.
“‘Let me leave behind all the tech I’ve spent eight years working on, the 100 million dollars I’ve earned, the momentum in my career, my team, and let me start all over with a small team and development budget on a game I haven’t even thought about that no one has seen or bought.’ Yeah, that’s a good idea,” added Schwartz.
“It’s especially crazy because they gave us the right to do a new IP. So there is nothing that we could have conceivably gained by not being [at Activision],” said West.
The group goes on to discuss the nefarious methods Activision allegedly went to to get them fired, asking IT director Thomas Fenady to get into their e-mail.
“So George Rose goes into the office of this guy named Thomas Fenady. He’s some kind of IT whiz at Activision. He’s sitting in his office and has no idea what is going to walk in his office. [Rose says], ‘Hey, this comes right from the top. I have a project for you from [Activision Blizzard CEO] Bobby Kotick. Jason and Vince – you know those guys? We’re really sick of them. We want to get rid of them; we want to fire them. You need to break into their computers and dig up dirt to be used to justify firing them.’ [Fenady] testified to this,” Schwartz explained.
“So he tries to break into the Infinity Ward server to read emails. He sees there is a firewall there, but he breaks through the firewall. He’s now seeing their email server, but he can’t make any sense out of it. So he calls Microsoft and says, ‘Hey we have this Microsoft Exchange server out at Infinity Ward. Can you help us figure out how to break the password and read the emails?’ Microsoft said, ‘Do you have a court order? This makes us feel very uncomfortable.’”
“Then he goes to a vendor that does penetration testing called InGuardians and they said, ‘Hmm, this sounds like some black bag operation, we’ll help you but you have to give us an indemnity and a get out of jail free card against any criminal or civil liability.’ Then, they realized they can’t do anything unless they have physical access to the premises,” Schwartz continued.
The guys continue on to say that Activision went as far as faking a fire drill to gain physical access to the servers. Schwartz also talks about Activision e-mails which conspire to get rid of the developers a full 14 months before they were fired.
Obviously these allegations can’t be accepted as fact at this point, but the allegations certainly don’t help Activision’s less-than-stellar reputation.