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On MW2 Bonuses

Gamasutra reports that Activision has awarded performance bonuses intended for former Infinity Ward executives Jason West and Vince Zampella to the employees who have remained with Infinity Ward "who did not allegedly attempt to steal company secrets." They quote community rep and former game journalist Dan Amrich in a Discussion about Activision Facebook Page referring to "Vince and Jason's surreptitious attempts to photocopy and scan sensitive documents." Not that they are looking to stem the exodus of IW employees with cash, but Dan adds: "more people will probably go too, looking for new situations. Maybe they will join Respawn, maybe not. I'm confused, because by leaving, they are giving up their bonus -- and the more people that leave, the bigger the bonus gets for the people who stay."

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33. Re: On MW2 Bonuses Apr 24, 2010, 14:23 Anonymous Rex
 
DG wrote on Apr 23, 2010, 20:18:
Anonymous Rex wrote on Apr 23, 2010, 16:21:
It's easy to say "Well don't sign it." And it sounds easy right up until you're actually in that position, and you discover that the alternative is not working.
Far as I can see I'm the only one mentioning signing things, specifically "well they agreed to it".

But... They did.

I wasn't directing that at you, but rather in anticipation of the sentiment, i.e. "Well if it's a bad deal then don't sign it."

Nothing you said is incorrect and I don't disagree with any part of it. However, the alternative to signing the bad deal is signing no deal. If you're a studio head or some other executive type, you have some maneuvering room to negotiate an actual agreement. But if you're a programmer, artist, or what have you, it's pretty much their way or the highway.

If the industry as a whole were to stand up and say, "No, fuck you very much" then maybe that might change. But that won't happen. And for the record, a union is the last thing I want. In my experience (in a former life) unions are as you described them; simply another layer of abuse, all too often protecting the wrong people and generally creating the kind of "us vs. them" environment that sucks to work in.

I don't know what the solution is for the industry. For myself, the solution was to trade in the big name for peace of mind and a slice of the actual pie. In today's world only a fool would stick with a bad situation rather than go indie.
 
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32. Re: On MW2 Bonuses Apr 23, 2010, 20:18 DG
 
Anonymous Rex wrote on Apr 23, 2010, 16:21:
It's easy to say "Well don't sign it." And it sounds easy right up until you're actually in that position, and you discover that the alternative is not working.
Far as I can see I'm the only one mentioning signing things, specifically "well they agreed to it".

But... They did. My comment didn't pass judgement. But you know... The reason we get screwed over by employers is because nobody challenges it. It isn't even screwing their staff over any more, it's borderline standard practice. Want to know why execs and bankers get paid a squillion dollars? Not only do they read their contracts, they negotiate - most importantly, they all do.

I like to moan about politicians. But, I'll admit at least half the problem is people not reading real newspapers, paying attention and using their vote with care. Again I don't pass judgement - I don't and can't blame anyone for considering it a waste of time. But as a group, we have to take our share of the blame for the state of politics. It's the same thing. I don't blame anyone for needing to make the rent, no individual's apathy is making a difference. But as a group, we take it and we take it and we take it and we hope someone else is going to save us - we don't do ourselves any favours.

Oh and yeah, there are the occasional cool employers who treat staff fairly in the belief that staff will respect and respond to that and so in the end they'll make a return on that. And they're right 90% of the time, but there's that 10% who abuse it and make it so that it's not working for the employer and in the end we get screwed over again. The best part is we're probably covering for those 10% guys.

So yeah, they agreed to it. Maybe they had little choice, maybe it's not their fault - at least no more than anyone else's. Maybe it's your fault. Maybe it's our fault. Activision? They're assholes but who expects different?

PS no this isn't support for unions who as far as I can tell is just another bunch of bosses abusing you for their own ends.
 
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31. Re: On MW2 Bonuses Apr 23, 2010, 20:01 MMORPGHoD
 
Zyrxil wrote on Apr 23, 2010, 09:35:
MMORPGHoD wrote on Apr 23, 2010, 09:30:
Could the company have withheld it and been legally correct to do so? Absolutely.
No, not absolutely. We have no idea how these bonuses were promised. If it was in a contract with specific terms, if you met those terms it doesn't matter if you were still at the company when they gave them out a year or 5 years or 10 years later, you'd still be owed the bonus.

Actually, I was speaking about my situation because I don't know what terms they had. I didn't sign a contract for my bonus and the company was under no legal obligation to pay me the bonus. The point was they did anyway because they knew it was the right thing to do. Some companies actually treat their employees well.
 
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30. Re: On MW2 Bonuses Apr 23, 2010, 19:37 ^Drag0n^
 
Creston wrote on Apr 22, 2010, 23:12:
Ehm, I'm fairly sure that's illegal, unless this bonus is somehow tied to them being in the employ of Activision.

If the bonus is for the work done on MW2, they have to pay it to the employees who worked on MW2, irregardless of their current employment status.

Fucking Activision. They have to be the worst fucking place to work by now in the entire gaming industry.

Creston

My wife works in HR. She said not only is this illegal, but, if true, punative fines would result in California.

^D^
 
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29. Re: On MW2 Bonuses Apr 23, 2010, 18:46 ReverendTed
 
Jackplug wrote on Apr 23, 2010, 11:34:
Now activision have lost all the main staff of IW and now only have the name left and the Cod IP, which is useless cos noone will buy a CoD game off Activision after what they have done.
I'm pretty sure you're wrong, unfortunately. The last CoD was a slap in the face to gamers, and PC gamers in particular, yet it sold like hotcakes.
The vast majority of consumers will have no idea that this even happened, and will buy whatever has "CoD" on it next year.
It will take a while before "Call of Duty" goes the way of "Medal of Honor". (Which, you'll recall, was developed by 2015 before a bunch of those guys split to form Infinity Ward - seeing a pattern here?)
 
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28. Re: On MW2 Bonuses Apr 23, 2010, 16:21 Anonymous Rex
 
Lincolns Mullet wrote on Apr 23, 2010, 10:04:
One thing I learned being in the industry, you don't have shit until it's in your hands. Contracts, promises...all bullshit and mean nothing. There is a way to get around everything.

Amen, brother. Some of these posters talk about contracts and dates as if they meant a goddamn thing to the publisher; as if every single word on the page wasn't carefully crafted to allow the possibility of fucking you over at their whim.

It's easy to say "Well don't sign it." And it sounds easy right up until you're actually in that position, and you discover that the alternative is not working.

This whole saga reeks of shit. And for precisely this kind of bullshit, after 10 years I left big studios and big publishers for the indie world. I would sell oranges at a freeway onramp before going back.

I don't know why this got me so angry. It's not that any of this affects me. I guess it just dredges up some memories I'd rather not relive. Sometimes this industry does its absolute best to squeeze the joy and love of making games right out of you, just like toothpaste from a tube.
 
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27. Re: On MW2 Bonuses Apr 23, 2010, 14:04 Verno
 
I'm sure it's technically legal but I'm also sure they are going to be paying out a decent settlement in the end. Regardless of legality, it seems almost desperate to post this kind of thing publicly. It's certainly poor PR any way you look at it, on the outside it almost looks like a thinly veiled extortion.  
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Watching: Spartan, Possible Worlds, The Changeling
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26. Re: On MW2 Bonuses Apr 23, 2010, 12:59 DG
 
It's quite normal to incorporate into contracts bonuses that are contingent on the recipient still being an employee at some specified date. That can be years down the line, if that's what the contract says.

Of course it seems bloody cheeky when the bonus is being tied to a specific, individually identifiable and wholly completed piece of work. But well they agreed to it.
 
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25. Re: On MW2 Bonuses Apr 23, 2010, 11:34 Jackplug
 
The bonuses will be for completion of MW2, Activision got greedy and kicked out the main 2 and tried to throw out stories that they were copying documents? They made the game, why should they be photocopying any documents they have the skills to make anything they want.

Now activision have lost all the main staff of IW and now only have the name left and the Cod IP, which is useless cos noone will buy a CoD game off Activision after what they have done.

Next will be the lawsuits for the money they owe, it will only get worse for Activision.
 
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24. Re: On MW2 Bonuses Apr 23, 2010, 10:41 Elessar
 
Drezden wrote on Apr 22, 2010, 22:42:
I like how he's "confused"
To some people loyalty and working in a healthy environment is more important than Activisions money. How does he not get that.
My thoughts exactly. The quote from Activision is greed in it's purest form. It's all about the money. It's sad to see that not only do they not care about feature rich, quality products for their customers, but that they could care less about the happiness of their actual employees too. This company is about uncompromising greed with virtually no other priorities. It's sickening.
 
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23. Re: On MW2 Bonuses Apr 23, 2010, 10:04 Lincolns Mullet
 
One thing I learned being in the industry, you don't have shit until it's in your hands. Contracts, promises...all bullshit and mean nothing. There is a way to get around everything.

I hope they all leave, then the assholes at Activision can have all that invisible bonus money for themselves.
 
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22. Re: On MW2 Bonuses Apr 23, 2010, 09:50 briktal
 
Sleeeeepy wrote on Apr 23, 2010, 06:37:
Yeah I would just wait until the bonus is paid then get the fuck out. I'm sure Respawn will keep a few seats warm, and even if they don't you leave with a nice bonus and one of the most financially successful games in history on your CV.

Don't worry you'll get your bonus in just a few more weeks, I promise.
 
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21. Re: On MW2 Bonuses Apr 23, 2010, 09:48 eXFeLoN
 
Sometimes you suck the cock, sometimes the cock sucks you. A few people don't want their pieces of silver Dan.  
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20. Re: On MW2 Bonuses Apr 23, 2010, 09:35 Zyrxil
 
MMORPGHoD wrote on Apr 23, 2010, 09:30:
Could the company have withheld it and been legally correct to do so? Absolutely.
No, not absolutely. We have no idea how these bonuses were promised. If it was in a contract with specific terms, if you met those terms it doesn't matter if you were still at the company when they gave them out a year or 5 years or 10 years later, you'd still be owed the bonus.
 
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19. Re: On MW2 Bonuses Apr 23, 2010, 09:30 MMORPGHoD
 
It's pretty obvious they were holding up the bonus payments to retain their employees. And when that didn't work, they started to pay out the bonuses to keep who was left there. Whether it's legal or not, it's unethical and I for one won't be purchasing the next MW iteration from activation. It probably won't be much of a game regardless.

By the way, I was paid a nice 8k bonus even though I was no longer part of the company I had worked for, because I did the work required and earned it. Could the company have withheld it and been legally correct to do so? Absolutely. However in this case, it's called doing the right thing.
 
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18. Re: On MW2 Bonuses Apr 23, 2010, 07:28 InBlack
 
I wonder if any of the people who left or were considering it got the "You will never work in this business again..." speech....  
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17. Re: On MW2 Bonuses Apr 23, 2010, 06:37 Sleeeeepy
 
Yeah I would just wait until the bonus is paid then get the fuck out. I'm sure Respawn will keep a few seats warm, and even if they don't you leave with a nice bonus and one of the most financially successful games in history on your CV.  
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16. Re: On MW2 Bonuses Apr 23, 2010, 06:32 Sempai
 
I call bullshit.

How fucking long does it take them to pay out the gdamn bonus?

The game was released in 09, its well into 10.

Fuck off and die Activision and plse shut your fucking mouth already.

LIES LIES LIES!
 
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15. Re: On MW2 Bonuses Apr 23, 2010, 03:21 PropheT
 
Beamer wrote on Apr 23, 2010, 00:57:

So anyone saying this is shady is really, really, really, really incorrect.
For a while people speculated that Activision fired them to avoid paying the bonus. Now Activision is saying they still paid the same amount of bonus they would have before, only distributed to fewer people.

This is not a way to force people to remain. Bonuses are contractually obligated on a certain date. Stay to that date and get your bonus. Leave before and forfeit (which is why, when this went down, I speculated a mass exodus whenever bonuses are paid. Seems like no one waited.)
Again, talk to anyone in a bonus-driven industry. Video games, investment banking, happens everywhere. Hell, most of you in other industries get year-end bonuses based on performance, right? If you quit on December 1st do you expect that Christmas bonus to still be paid?

The entire point that the two big shots made when they were canned was that they weren't paid those bonuses when they should have been. Now Activision (who I seem to remember saying they didn't owe bonuses) turns around and pays the bonuses, only to people still there rather than to the group they were supposed to in the first place.

I get what you're saying about not getting a bonus if you don't stay for it, but my understanding was that one of the main points of contention between the employees that left and Activision was that they were supposed to have been paid these bonuses months ago and weren't. If that's the case, and there's no reason to doubt it, then this is pretty messed up.
 
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14. Re: On MW2 Bonuses Apr 23, 2010, 01:58 Creston
 
Beamer wrote on Apr 23, 2010, 00:57:
Ehm, I'm fairly sure that's illegal, unless this bonus is somehow tied to them being in the employ of Activision.

Duh.

Ask anyone in the industry: if you leave the company before the date bonuses are paid out then you forfeit your bonus.
It's the same in nearly every industry. You need to be a part of the industry when bonuses are paid to get your bonus. It's not commission, in which you get it for making a sale.

So anyone saying this is shady is really, really, really, really incorrect.
For a while people speculated that Activision fired them to avoid paying the bonus. Now Activision is saying they still paid the same amount of bonus they would have before, only distributed to fewer people.

This is not a way to force people to remain. Bonuses are contractually obligated on a certain date. Stay to that date and get your bonus. Leave before and forfeit (which is why, when this went down, I speculated a mass exodus whenever bonuses are paid. Seems like no one waited.)
Again, talk to anyone in a bonus-driven industry. Video games, investment banking, happens everywhere. Hell, most of you in other industries get year-end bonuses based on performance, right? If you quit on December 1st do you expect that Christmas bonus to still be paid?

Is this a date bonus? I'm pretty sure that so far the lawsuits have been talking about a form of commission for the fact that MW2 made a BILLION DOLLARS. I know that Dev studios don't always get commission anymore over their games (maybe nobody gets that anymore), some of them just are salaried, but it seemed that wasn't the case here. It seemed that IW were due a portion of the sales.

As for a Christmas bonus, sure, if it's specifically a Christmas bonus then you don't get it if you're not there at Christmas. However, my company pays a yearly performance bonus, and if you leave at December 1st, they pay you 11/12th of the bonus that everybody else gets. It's a pro-rated bonus, not a 'roster bonus'.

If the IW employees were really that fucking dumb, that they signed a contract in which they ONLY got a bonus if they were still employed two months after a game was finished, then they deserve to get nothing. Seriously. You work your ass off for X amount of years, the game makes enough money to fucking BUY a country, and because the publisher fires your ass a day before the bonus is due, you don't get anything? That'd be the dumbest fucking thing ever.

You're saying that happens throughout the game industry?

Developers need to start getting themselves some agents to negotiate their contracts for them. That's just the height of insanity.

Creston
 
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