Activision settles ‘Call of Duty’ suit

Deal before trial resolves claims of two game creators and 40 other staffers

Just one day before trial was scheduled to start, Activision has settled suits with the two creators who oversaw the runaway hit videogame “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2,” as well as a class of some 40 other employees from the gamer’s Infinity Ward studio.

Settlement, announced Thursday, removes the uncertainty of a jury trial, and what was likely to be a drawn-out courtroom battle with Jason West and Vincent Zampella, who sued Activision in March 2010 claiming they were fired from the company shortly after the “Modern Warfare 2” release and were denied millions of dollars in bonuses. Their damages increased during discovery to an estimated $1 billion, and the other employees were also seeking hefty claims.

None of the parties would immediately disclose the settlement terms.

“All parties to the litigation have reached a settlement of the dispute, the terms of which are strictly confidential,” the two developers’ attorneys said through a spokeswoman.

In the lead-up to the trial, which was to take place in Los Angeles Superior Court before Judge Elihu Berle, documents were unsealed that the legal teams of West and Zampella said bolstered their claims that they were targeted by senior Activision management, led by CEO Robert A. Kotick, seeking ways to sever ties with them once they delivered the latest installment in the lucrative “Call of Duty” games.

One document, unsealed in May, revealed testimony from an IT expert who said that Activision’s in-house counsel had sought him to “dig up dirt’ on West and Zampella by tapping into their e-mail and other computer accounts, although the plan was never carried out.

After firing West and Zampella, Activision countersued, claiming the two had been fired for insubordination and had undermined the company by plotting to poach employees from the Infinity Ward studio.