Activision Asked Former IT Head to ‘Dig Up Dirt’ on Infinity Ward Devs

Activision higher-ups asked the company’s former information technology director to hack into the work emails, computers and phones of Infinity Ward founders Jason West and Frank Zampella, court filings have revealed.

West and Zampella are suing and being sued by Activision after they left Infinity Ward to create Respawn Entertainment and started working with Electronic Arts following the completion of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Activision claims Zampella and Ward stalled the development of Modern Warfare 2 and purposely sabotaged it as they prepared to leave for EA; Zampella and Ward claim Activision created a hostile “police state” of a work environment and withheld promised bonuses.

A court filling in the case includes testimony from Thomas Fenady, Activision’s former IT director, in which he states he was asked to hack into West and Zampella’s various devices and accounts. The goal was to “dig dirt” up on the Infinity Ward founders a full eight months before they were eventually fired by Activision.

According to the testimony, Activision was looking for a reason to get rid of the pair, which was the purpose of the hacking. There was even a Call of Duty-style name for it: Operation Icebreaker.

Activision Chief Public Policy Officer George Rose, then chief legal officer, denies telling Fenady to “dig up dirt” on the Infinity Ward founders. He doesn’t deny that Operation Icebreaker existed, but says it wasn’t targeted at West and Zampella — instead, it was a company-wide surveillance plan.

Fenady’s testimony is pretty damning; it’ll be interesting to see how it affects the case when it goes forward on May 29.

Thanks, Games Industry.

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