Black Ops II’s Setting Could Land Activision In Trouble

Call of Duty: Black Ops II (which we previewed here) might not have a smooth ride to retail.

Citing legal documents which the site has just picked up on, GameInformer claims that Call of Duty titles set after Vietnam would be exclusive to Infinity Ward.

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“Infinity Ward had the rights to all Call of Duty games set in ‘modern day (post-Vietnam), the near future, or distant future,'” says the report. Black Ops II is set in 2025, so Treyarch have apparently ignored the clause.

The same document hints at frustrations within Treyarch – guns that weren’t meant to be available in the original Black Ops timeline, for example – and says that Black Ops was originally named ‘Modern Warfare Origins’.

Eric Chad, intellectual property attorney with the firm Merchant & Gould, said to GameInformer that if Zampella and West win the famous lawsuit, pulling Black Ops II “is likely a possible remedy”.

“I think it is much more likely that the remedy would be some sort of damages payment, like a forced royalty,” he added.

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22 Comments

  1. Wow, didn’t see that coming.

  2. Companies are dicks

    Just release the games people want to buy & play like BlOps2

    • Also without seeing sections 2a & b along with 3d it’s difficult to see the whole picture

  3. It’s almost as if Activision want the attention for some sort of ‘will it be released, won’t it be released?’ hype train.

    Off-topic, thanks for giving us links in the mobile view, it was great at the beta but now it’s awesome and loads so quickly :)

  4. By saying that it’s ‘owned’ by Infinity Ward, does that mean it’s owned by Zampella and West, or is it the company that owns it so now Infinity Hammer has the power?

    • We’ll find out in court… Although the waters are further muddied by them no longer at IW, so if Activision have to pay a small percentage of royalties to IW for BlOps 2’s near future setting they could in effect be paying their own company. Or summink

      • Yeah, it’s definitely confusing the way it only says “IW” and not any names. I can see Acti having to pay West + Zampella, and something to the guys still at IW. I bet their lawyers are going crazy over this.

      • That’s what I was thinking:

        “We order you to pay yourself 10 million dollars!”

        Eh … okay!

      • west and zambella are looking to stop activison publishing any post Vietnam modern warfare games but not call of duty so tryarch should be fine in theory.

    • Its say Infinity Ward – which still exists and belongs to Activision.. so.. er.. no problem at all then.

      Activision fired West & Zampella, not Infinity Ward.

  5. Might want to mention that the above clause is in a Memorandum of Understanding, not a contract. (This is mentioned in the GameInformer article you linked).

    Whether or not this is legally binding is what I’m sure they’ll debate at the end of the month at court.

    If anyone is interested:

    “A memorandum of understanding (MoU) is a document describing a bilateral or multilateral agreement between parties.

    In some cases depending on the exact wording, MoUs can have the binding power of a contract;

    Many companies and government agencies use MoUs to define a relationship between departments, agencies or closely held companies. In the United Kingdom, such an MoU is often called a concordat.

    It is a more formal alternative to a gentlemen’s agreement.”

    (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memorandum_of_understanding)

  6. I am totally amazed that clauses like this even exist inside a franchise. You would have thought IW and Treyarch would want to work together beause, even though its the biggest selling game franchise of all time, one really bad installment and the franchise is damaged…

    • Thats what I would have thought. I reckon a COD game with both IW and Treyarch working together on it would be awesome! Take a year off COD and return much bigger and much much better!

  7. IW are the poorer devs. At least Treyarch try to innovate! Not sure why IW have all this power.

    • Think its because Call of Duty was created by IW

    • Erm, seriously? I don’t think Treyarch have made a good game since they stopped making Spiderman games.

      CoD1 = Infinity Ward = Amazing.
      CoD: Big Red One = Treyarch = Soooo poor, I mean, oh my god, seriously wow.
      CoD2 = Infinity Ward = Amazing, I bought a HDTV just for this game.
      CoD3 = Treyarch = CoD2 + zombie multiplayer mode.
      MW1 = Infinity Ward = First modern CoD and truly incredible.
      CoD: World at War = Treyarch = See CoD3.
      MW2 = Infinity Ward = Stepped it up with the multiplayer, story suffered.
      Blops = Treyarch = Stopped playing campaign literally within an hour.
      MW3 = Infinity Ward = Didn’t bother playing.

      Tell me I’m wrong.

      Oh, and Treyarch have barely made any changes to the CoD engine, they’ve always been reliant on Infinity Ward. There’s more to say but I’m starting to feel mean…

      • Wait, zombies were introduced in WaW, so scratch that, CoD3 had nothing going for it.

  8. I highly doubt Treyarch would have started development on the game if they thought they’d get in trouble.

    Apparently, there’s no such thing as bad publicity!

  9. But because IW is also owned by Acti or what is left of it is, doesn’t this basically allow them to bypass the legal clause and give it to any studio? Or does Zappella and West still legally own the rights to it?

    • That is what is being contested by the court cases. If W&Z win then Acti loses not only Black Ops but all of the Call Of Duty franchise.

      I doubt they will but can you imagine if that happened and they waltzed over to EA with the franchise.

      We find out soon, the case starts on May 29th

      • EA would wet themselves with excitement and would probably have to eat a lot of humble pie.

        I doubt that they will win as Acti will find a loophole in the case and use that to win. Although if they do win, Acti will be forced to rely on WOW and even that is starting to fall so it may be the begining of the end for them as they don’t have many major franchises that sell well. Imo. :)

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