A group of nearly 40 past and present Infinity Ward developers have banded together to file suit against the publishers of Modern Warfare 2 for half a billion dollars, alleging breach of contract and unpaid royalties, according to court documents obtained by G4 TV.com.
The Infinity Ward Employee Group's suit, which lists 38 plaintiffs including some currently employed by Activision at the Infinity Ward studio, is seeking as much as half a billion in unpaid bonuses, royalties, profit sharing and future profits from games such as Modern Warfare 3 and punitive damages.
The suit alleges, according to G4 TV, that the payments were withheld to prevent employees from quitting Activision.
"In short, Activision withheld the property of the IWEG in an attempt to keep the employees hostage so that Activision could reap the benefit of the completion of Modern Warfare 3, " according to the suit.
Reached for comment Tuesday afternoon, an Activision spokesperson refuted the allegations:
"Activision believes the action is without merit," the spokesperson said. "Activision retains the discretion to determine the amount and the schedule of bonus payments for MW2 and has acted consistent with its rights and the law at all times. We look forward to getting judicial confirmation that our position is right."
Former Infinity Ward heads Jason West and Vince Zampella filed a lawsuit against their former publisher in March, seeking $36 million unpaid royalties and alleging an "Orwellian," "pre-ordained" investigation designed to "manufacture a basis to fire" the studio founders.
Since the firing of West and Zampella, the two former studio heads have gone on to establish Respawn Entertainment and sign on with Electronic Arts, their formal rival. Dozens of Infinity Ward employees have since voluntarily left the Encino-based studio, with a portion of those departures joining Respawn.