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Activision, EA war of words continues

Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick had some bad things to say about Electronic Arts in a recent interview. EA responds with barbs of its own.

The Activision-EA war of words is heating up.

Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick had said in a recent interview with Edge Magazine that Electronic Arts is in trouble and that "great people really don't want to work there."

EA has now responded with some potshots of its own.

"Kotick's relationship with studio talent is well-documented in litigation," Jeff Brown, EA's communications vice president, told Gamasutra on Monday in an interview.

Brown was ostensibly referring to Kotick's recent legal forays with Jason West and Vince Zampella, former heads of Activision subsidiary Infinity Ward.

Earlier this year, Activision announced that it had terminated West and Zampella. After that, the executives, who were integral to the success of the Call of Duty franchise, established a new development studio, Respawn Entertainment, and inked a deal with EA that would make the mega-publisher the studio's exclusive game distributor.

Litigation that surrounded those events was a bit ugly.

After ousting West and Zampella over alleged insubordination, the execs sued Activision for wrongful termination and breach of contract. According to The Los Angeles Times, the suit alleged that Activision was "intentionally flouting the public policy of [California] that employers must pay their employees what they have rightfully earned."

In response, Activision countersued, saying that the execs allegedly engaged in "an unlawful pattern and practice of conduct that was designed to steal the [Infinity Ward] the expense of Activision and its shareholders and for their own personal financial gain." Activision's suit alleged that West and Zampella secretly met with EA's top executives while they were still working at Activision.

But EA's Brown wasn't done. He also told Gamasutra that Kotick and his company aren't as successful as Kotick wants others to believe.

"His company is based on three game franchises," Brown told Gamasutra. "One is a fantastic persistent world he had nothing to do with; one is in steep decline; and the third in the process of being destroyed by Kotick's own hubris."

Brown didn't mention which titles he was referring to, but he could have been referencing World of Warcraft, which Activision acquired through its merger with Vivendi in 2007; Guitar Hero, which has been facing slumping sales; and the Call of Duty franchise, respectively.

Activision did not immediately respond to request for comment. But based on how these companies are going at each other's throats, it likely won't be long before more salvos start flying.