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EA Responds To Kotick Comments, Points To Litigation, 'Hubris'

EA Responds To Kotick Comments, Points To Litigation, 'Hubris' Exclusive

September 27, 2010 | By Leigh Alexander

September 27, 2010 | By Leigh Alexander
More: Console/PC, Exclusive

In a new interview with Edge Magazine, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick said the key to his company's success is respecting the independence of his studios -- and in his typically-outspoken style, the exec specifically called out publisher Electronic Arts.

In his comments, Kotick claimed EA "doesn't know how" to implement such a model and that "great people don't really want to work there" as a result. Excerpts from the interview are already widely circulated among games publications even before the print edition with Edge in which it features arrives on newsstands tomorrow.

But Electronic Arts won't take those assertions silently: "Kotick's relationship with studio talent is well-documented in litigation," EA corporate communications VP Jeff Brown tells Gamasutra in a statement.

"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."

The litigation to which Brown refers is Activision's public sparring with both Double Fine and Infinity Ward. In the case of the former, Activision dropped the studio's Brutal Legend from its publishing slate amid its acquisition of Vivendi and later sued Double Fine and EA when the latter picked it up.

As for Infinity Ward, the departure of the Modern Warfare house's founders and the resulting lawsuits between the studio and Activision received quite a high profile in the press.

It's to the Call of Duty brand, whose future has been much-debated by analysts and industry-watchers in the wake of the Infinity Ward co-founders' departure, to which Brown likely refers when he discusses the Activision CEO's "hubris." The considerable revenue from the "fantastic persistent" World of Warcraft became Activision's in the Vivendi deal as well; by a franchise in "steep decline", Brown presumably refers to the considerably-contracted Guitar Hero property.

Activision and EA have quickly become bitter rivals in the public forum, a war of words that began with the conflict over Brutal Legend, escalated when Visceral Games heads Glen Schofield and Michael Condrey left EA to found Activision's Sledgehammer Games, and has come to a head as the two square off in the shooter category. EA's Medal of Honor takes on Activision's Call of Duty: Black Ops this season, and EA has been vocal about its goals to reclaim the shooter crown.

Further, Infinity Ward's Jason West and Vince Zampella's conflict with Activision culminated in the pair's new studio, Respawn Entertainment, immediately revealing a publishing contract with Electronic Arts' EA Partners division. Activision's claimed legal grounds to terminate West and Zampella pertain in part to its allegation that the pair were in secret talks EA while still employed by Activision.

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