Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Lawsuit (part three)

I was thinking more about this after the post yesterday, and I wanted to add a bit more to explain why I think it's so likely that the lawsuits will be settled out-of-court.

First, let's take a slight detour through investing.

We have a hypothetical investor who has five million dollars. He has a very satisfying lifestyle, and his guaranteed investment income will sustain this lifestyle for the rest of his life. Someone approaches him with an investment opportunity, and they say that there's an 80% chance he will double or even triple his money.

There's a catch, though. There's a 20% chance that he'll lose all the money he invests.

So how much should this guy invest, assuming that the percentages are absolutely correct (which doesn't exist in the real world, obviously)? More to the point, what is the one amount he should absolutely NOT invest?

Five million dollars.

Why? Because the only way this guy fails is if he takes too much risk. No matter the reward, when you're already flush, that kind of risk is a stupid, stupid move.

A smart move? Invest half a million. It's 10% of his wealth, but remember, these are guaranteed percentages in our imaginary world. If the investment goes bust, he has 4.5 million. If it pays off, he has at least 5.5 million, and he has an 80% chance of cashing in.

He could even invest more, depending on lots of variables that I won't go into here. But the one absolutely stupid move is to risk all, or most, of what he have.

Back to the lawsuit.

Can Activision afford to take this to trial if there's even a 10-20% chance that the verdict WILL give a substantial amount of control of the Modern Warfare franchise (and like products) to Zampella and West, based on the Memorandum Of Understanding? Hell, no. They can't afford to take this to trial if there's even a 5% chance.
Can Zampella And West afford to take this to trial if there's even a 10-20% chance that Activision will be able to "reclaim" compensation already given to Z and W from the date that they began breaching their employment contract? Hell, no. That could be a substantial amount of money--millions--money they may well not have. What's most important is not the royalties they're allegedly owed, but the ability to continue to make games, because that's the revenue stream.

Look, there's plenty of success to go around here. With a negotiated settlement, everyone can continue to be ridiculously successful--it's not an either-or situation. The only way either party can possibly fail is if they go all-in, and everyone involved should be more than smart enough to realize this. The best thing everyone could possibly do is kiss and make up so this will all go away, because people buy games, not lawsuits, and this isn't good publicity for either side.

One other note: I wrote yesterday that I hadn't seen any Infinity Ward current or former employees defend Zampella and West, which I thought was quite unusual. However, after posting that I did receive an e-mail.

Now, before I quote the e-mail, here are some qualifiers. One, the author wishes to remain anonymous (completely understandable). Two, he has e-mailed me in the past, but not frequently. Three, he's not an Infinity Ward employee, but he says that he does personally know people who work there. Having said all that upfront, here's the e-mail:
I need to remain anonymous on this, but from all first hand accounts of the IW people I've spoken to, those two are pretty universally loved, and you'll likely see that reflected in Respawn's employee roster.

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