Court documents outed by the LA Times show Activision's Dave Stohl expected a "big, negative PR story" from kicking out West and Zampella, adding it was 'freaking him out a little'.
The tension began when Infinity Ward missed a deadline to get a gameplay video of Modern Warfare 2 ready for Microsoft's E3 press event, and this irked Activision.
"Msft will go ballistic over this and the deal is seriously risked," wrote exec Rob Kostich. Mike Griffith, president of publishing at the time, said that West and Zampella had hung up on him over the matter. "If they really did I would change their locks and lock them out of their building," CEO Bobby Kotick replied.
Griffith floated the idea that Treyarch assume the project but the prospect was "scary given the tight timeline." Dave Stohl said they should "discuss what the plan B is going to look like" as there "could be a ton of risk getting the project done depending on how the team takes it."
Stohl sensed it wasn't going to go down well with fans: "Is everyone ready for the big, negative PR story this is going to turn into if we kick them out?" Adding it's "freaking me out a little."
A plan was put in place to deliver what Activision thought would be a successful coup to keep the Infinity Ward studio operating by acting against the top 12 members, along with West and Zampella. This was to "help ensure we retain the team if things blow up at the top," said Griffith.
A suit against rival publisher EA was recently settled, and Activision also paid a large sum in a non-settlement agreement to the Infinity Ward Employee Group. West and Zampella have recently upped their damages claim against the publishing giant to. It seems the two groups can square off with little distraction now.