Rumor: Why Call of Duty Developers Are Sticking AroundS

With studio heads at Infinity Ward, the developer of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and its sequel, no longer employed, you'd think all those remaining at the company would be leaving in mass exodus. They're not, apparently, and here's why.

Sources tell Kotaku that Modern Warfare publisher Activision is delaying paying Infinity Ward employees their royalties. Every employee who worked on Modern Warfare 2 is apparently in for royalties. Traditionally, Infinity Ward has paid staff regular or even "low" salaries, sources tell Kotaku, but offer ridiculous royalties to compensate.

Earlier this month, Infinity Ward studio heads Jason West and Vince Zampella, the men at the center of the Call of Duty developer drama, filed suit against Activision over claims they are owed "substantial royalty payments".

"Activision has refused to honor the terms of its agreements and is intentionally flouting the fundamental public policy of this State (California) that employers must pay their employees what they have rightfully earned," said the pair's attorney, Robert Schwartz, of law firm O'Melveny & Myers earlier this month. "Instead of thanking, lauding, or just plain paying Jason and Vince for giving Activision the most successful entertainment product ever offered to the public, last month Activision hired lawyers to conduct a pretextual 'investigation' into unstated and unsubstantiated charges of 'insubordination' and 'breach of fiduciary duty,' which then became the grounds for their termination on Monday, March 1st."

There have been rumors that Infinity Ward had been courting EA and other publishers before this brouhaha broke.

Sources tell Kotaku that Activision continues to delay royalties to other employees in order to keep them at the company. The morale at Infinity Ward is reportedly extremely low.

Last fall, Infinity Ward's Modern Warfare 2 launched, racking up, as this past January, over a billion dollars in sales.

Kotaku is following up with Activision and will update this post should the company comment.