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"The goal that I had in bringing a lot of the packaged goods folks into Activision about 10 years ago was to take all the fun out of making video games."— Bobby Kotick, 2009
Activision Blizzard, Inc. is an American video game holding company based in Santa Monica, California. The company was founded in July 2008 through the merger of Activision, Inc. (the publicly traded parent company of Activision Publishing) and Vivendi Games (the parent company of Blizzard Entertainment).
In 2008, Activision merged with Vivendi Games, transforming the company into Activision Blizzard. On July 25, 2013, Activision Blizzard announced they had purchased 429 million shares from parent company Vivendi, which was valued at $2.34 billion and also making them an independent company. Activision-Blizzard's titles have broken a number of release records. As of March 2018, it is the largest game company in the Americas and Europe and fouth largest in the world (after Tencent, Sony, and NetEase) in terms of revenue and market capitalization.
On January 18, 2022, Microsoft announced that it would acquire Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion.
Activision Publishing, Inc. is an American video game publisher founded on October 1, 1979, by former Atari employees and was the world's first independent distributor and developer of video games for consoles. Its first products were Atari 2600 cartridges published from July 1980 in the U.S. and August 1981 internationally.
Activision barely survived the video game crash of 1983 by selling cartridges at $5 instead of $40. By 1986, all the company's founders had left Activision. Larry Kaplan joined Amiga, Alan Miller and Jim Whitehead founded Accolade, while David Crane founded Absolute Entertainment. Former employees Greg Fischbach, Jim Scoroposki and Robert Holmes founded Acclaim Entertainment.
In 1988, Activision began developing software besides video games, and changed its corporate name to Mediagenic. The company's four divisions were Activision, Infocom (interactive fiction games), Gamestar (for sports video games), and Ten Point O (for business applications). Infocom closed in 1989, and only five of its employees stayed aboard.
In 1983, University of Michigan students Bobby Kotick and Howard Marks founded a software company called Arktronics, which developed software for the Apple II. During his sophomore year, Kotick met and pitched Steve Wynn to invest in Arktronics. Wynn later invested $300,000 in the company. Steve Jobs met with Kotick and Marks in Ann Arbor and advised them to drop out of college to focus on the software business.
In 1987, Kotick tried to acquire Commodore International. He planned to remove the keyboard and disk drive from the Amiga 500 and turn it into the a video game system. He was unsuccessful in persuading Commodore's Chairman Irving Gould to sell control of the company. From June to December 1990 Kotick served as the CEO of Leisure Concepts, which was renamed 4Kids Entertainment in 1995.
In 1990, Bobby Kotick and Brian Kelly bought a 25% stake in Activision, then known as Mediagenic. They changed the name back to Activision, performed a full restructuring of the company, and refocused the company on video games. Kotick became CEO of Activision in February 1991, a position that he holds to this day, while Kelly is still chairman.
Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. is an American video game developer and publisher based in Irvine, California. The company was founded on February 1991, under the name Silicon & Synapse, Inc. by three graduates of the University of California, Los Angeles: Michael Morhaime, Frank Pearce, and Allen Adham.
The company originally concentrated primarily on the creation of game ports for other studios before beginning the development of their own software in 1993 with the development of games like Rock n' Roll Racing and The Lost Vikings. In 1994 the company became Chaos Studios, Inc., then Blizzard Entertainment after being acquired by Davidson & Associates in 1994.
Davidson was acquired by CUC International in 1996. After a few other sales, including Cendant and Havas, Vivendi merged its video game division with Activision in 2008.
Why They're a Blizzard of Greed
- They milk every franchise they own until one dies out. The worst offender is the Call of Duty series.
- Many of their licensed games are tie-in games that range from mediocre to terrible. Battleship, Ghostbusters (2016), SCORE International Baja 1000, and SpongeBob HeroPants are good examples of this, due to the lack of quality of the gameplay.
- After the release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Jason West and Vince Zampella became tired of Activision's constant demands for Infinity Ward to work only on new Call of Duty games instead of making new intellectual properties or side-games. In response, Activision fired them, which led several Infinity Ward members to leave the studio out of pure disgust.
- They have also shut down many of their studios (Sierra Entertainment, Neversoft, Budcat Creations, Luxoflux, and Bizarre Creations), and forced the few survivors to develop Call of Duty.
- Many of their famous franchises such as Call of Duty, Tony Hawk's, and until recently, Guitar Hero, suffered from diminishing returns after several stellar games due to franchise fatigue.
- They cancelled True Crime: Hong Kong after being in development hell for too long. It was then picked up by Square Enix and rebranded as Sleeping Dogs.
- They killed the Soldier of Fortune series with their worst game in the series being: Soldier of Fortune: Payback
- They have no problem with rushing a game in order to cash in on fans, such as Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5 (although that game was slapped together in months because Activision was set to lose the rights to the Tony Hawk license).
- They don’t credit voice acting for non-English languages in their games.
- They have made/published badly optimized ports of their most beloved games to make a quick buck, such as Prototype: Biohazard Bundle and the disastrous 2016 PC version of Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, which has later been fixed because of Marvel stepping in.
- It was recently discovered that Activision developed an algorithm specifically designed to exploit players who don't buy microtransactions by rigging online matches so those players constantly play against players that do buy microtransactions, giving them an unfair disadvantage. That way, those players will constantly lose and if they submit to microtransactions (likely loot boxes), they will be placed in matches for which the item they had purchased with the microtransactions is effective so they will want to make future purchases, essentially making multiplayer pay-to-win. They then filed a patent for it.
- They locked content that was already in Destiny 2 and Advanced Warfare at launch, requiring players to buy DLC that was released after the two games released, so you needed to pay extra money to access the content you could already play. Thankfully, they got caught doing this and were forced to restore the original limit, restoring the ability to play some of the contents in each game that was locked beyond the DLC.
- Their licensing deals tend to be drawn up in such a way that they lose all rights to sell the licensed games they published if the deal ends (rather than, say, negotiating a royalty deal on later sales). This means that following the termination of the deals, all such games are pulled down from online storefronts immediately. This has happened to games featuring the James Bond, Transformers, and Marvel IPs already.
- As a result, physical copies of these discontinued licensed games published by them can be very expensive nowadays, especially their Marvel and Transformers games.
- This also prevented many games that were originally released by Vivendi Games/Sierra Entertainment from being rereleased, as those licenses have long been expired (like Scarface: The World Is Yours) or whose gaming rights are now from other companies (The Simpsons: Hit & Run).
- Like THQ, some of their tie-in games are completely different games on PC, meaning they're not straight ports of the console versions. The most infamous being the PC version of Spider-Man 2. This means that PC gamers have to rely on emulators like PCSX2 or Dolphin Emulator (which requires high system requirements) to play the console versions of the games.
- They cancelled some Crash Bandicoot games for unknown reasons, such as a reboot for the series Crash Landed which would be launched alongside a brand new Crash Team Racing title, the last one was eventually reworked as DreamWorks Super Star Kartz. It is presumed that by then Activision Blizzard and Vivendi were in the negotiation process for their release, so the IPs had to be on standby until 2016.
- They also care little about innovation and simply wanted to cash in on the current trend. Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is a good example: it contains a battle royale mode like that of PUBG, a team battle mode like Overwatch, a watered down zombie mode, and no single-player campaign (apparently, Treyarch was developing an extensive campaign mode, but due to the steep deadlines, Activision decided that Treyarch couldn't finish that campaign in time and lead them to shut it down in favor of the battle royale mode).
- Just like Nintendo and Konami, they take down a good amount of fangames out of their IPs for very questionable reasons.
- In September 2018, they sent a cease and desist order to a fan-game titled “Spyro: Myths Awaken,” forcing the creator to rebrand the game as “Zera: Myths Awaken.”
- Also in 2023, they terminated the development of numerous Call of Duty fan projects just to prevent competition with the recent Modern Warfare 3 remaster, as an act of sabotaging a passion project from fans of the franchise.
- The reason why the projects were being made was to allow players to play the older titles without any hacked servers or some kind of malware incorrupting the online system, thus making the cancellation of said projects very sad and undeserved.
- Some of the modern Call of Duty titles haven’t gotten official price drops. Black Ops 2, a game released in 2012, still costs full price.
- Activision still hasn't budged on the microtransactions and loot boxes in Destiny 2 (which is now self-published by Bungie) or Call of Duty when other companies have dialed back on the issue, going as far as trying to sell a red dot sight (which is a free unlockable reward since Call of Duty 4) in Black Ops 4 and K/D Tracker in Modern Warfare (2019) respectively.
- For example, Warner Bros. removed the loot boxes from Middle Earth: Shadow of War and Ubisoft chose to forget the time-savers packs for Far Cry 5. Even EA shut down microtransactions in Star Wars Battlefront II as well as choosing not to include them in Battlefield V.
- They have also started releasing games with no microtransactions/loot boxes at launch, only to add them in retroactively, the most notable examples are Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 and Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled, a remake of a game from 1999.
- It was discovered that there was a loot boxes system inside Modern Warfare (2019). It was fortunately cancelled. However, the microtransactions are still there.
- For some reason, Activision decided to put all the Black Ops 4 DLC content onto a season pass instead of just letting it be DLC. As a result, you do not have the option of buying what you want or need anymore and have to pay for all. Otherwise, you get nothing (even in Black Ops 3, they launched zombie mode maps individually).
- Even back then, they published a lot of garbage titles from various developers just for quick cash-ins, such as The Simpsons Wrestling and Super Pitfall.
- On PC, for a while, they moved their Call of Duty franchise from Steam to Blizzard's Battle.net launching its titles from BO4 and Modern Warfare 2019, so the games can't get any feedback, with WWII being the last COD game to release on Steam until MWII (2022) was announced to release on Steam for first time since WWII.
- They screwed up the physical release of Spyro: Reignited Trilogy by having both Spyro 2 and 3 as digital downloads. However, the game was pushed back from September 21 to November 13, as Toys for Bob wanted to give the game more love and care.
- Four months after Black Ops 4's release, they suddenly plugged in loot boxes in it when the heist update was made and they are absolute crap as they can potentially form a freaking curb-stomp battle.
- They (along with EA and Bethesda) are against the recent U.S bill to ban loot boxes and pay-to-win microtransactions in the U.S.
- They have been caught stealing artwork from other companies, such as using a picture taken by Bravo Company USA to use in one of their promotional artworks of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2019.
- They also copied the design of Booker T's character "G.I. Bro" for one of the characters in Modern Warfare, which resulted in a lawsuit.
- They accept exclusivity deals when offered the chance. For example, with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2019 by making the "Survival" mode for the Coop mode, exclusive to the PS4 for one year. This was unsurprisingly met with a lot of backlash, especially since once the mode is released on other platforms, a new Call of Duty game would have already been released or be close to being released. They also launched Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2 in the Epic Store for PC.
- They teamed up with Autism Speaks, a horrible organization that promotes negative misconceptions and stigmas against autistic people, to produce blue Skylanders figures.
- Starting with Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2, they are now locking demos behind digital pre-orders, which have either been sold with gaming magazines, or available as free downloads. They've done the same thing with Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time. A possible reason for this is because they want to encourage gamers to buy their games digitally since those generate more revenue than physical copies.
- They think it's a good idea to throw their Software License Agreement into practically any game they publish, regardless of if it has any online play, or if it's intended for a younger audience.
- In July 2021, they faced a lawsuit from the state of California over horrifying and toxic conditions to employees, such as harassment, discrimination, misogyny, and even suicide! Not helping is that this has been going on for years, and Activision refused to cooperate with the state to improve the conditions.
- Following a long investigation, Activision found itself innocent.
- The company cannot handle criticism at all. During the lawsuit, they once tried (and thankfully failed) to buy gaming media journalists to avoid bad reviews. Activision Blizzard also threatened employees for speaking out about the lawsuits.
- In May 2022, the company released a diversity space tool, which measures characters based on their gender, ethnicity, age, body type, and ability, but the tool was poorly received due to being nothing more than checking boxes for diversity to please certain people and bringing tokenization to characters.
- Despite the success of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2, they absorbed Vicarious Visions into Blizzard Entertainment resulted the cancellation of Pro Skater 3 + 4.
- According to Tony Hawk, after Vicarious Visions was merged into Blizzard, Activision reached out to its other studios for future ideas for the Tony Hawk's franchise, but Activision didn't like any of their ideas.
- They've become greedy after the merger with Activision, and now mostly create quick cash-grab remakes and milk the money via nostalgia pandering instead of creating an entirely new game. These problems became prevalent when their former CEO, Mike Morhaime, left the company in 2018.
- This is also why some games like Heroes of the Storm and StarCraft II receive little to no updates as of December 2020.
- Since the partnership deal with NetEase in 2009, Blizzard has lean towards games as a service model, as they followed NetEase's monetization method in the Chinese server of World of Warcraft and applying these updates on the live server, which caused a massive outrage in the WoW community.
- They've rushed their games like Warcraft III: Reforged and Diablo III, resulting in a half-finished or even incomplete state of the game.
- They are suspected of bribing gaming journalists in an attempt to cover up their bad game's quality, a prime example is the infamous ".....it has a little something for everyone" review of Warcraft III: Reforged by IGN.
- They ban various players and people due to their political and social views. For example;
- They banned Blitzchung, a Hearthstone pro player for his support of Hong Kong during their protests against China for human rights since they feared keeping him would hurt sales in mainland communist China.
- They banned the "okay" hand gesture due to the media getting baited by 4chan's troll thread which claimed that it was a "white supremacy" symbol.
- They ban and censor several gaming channels in cooperation with regressive left-minded Twitch moderators.
- They banned Savjz, another Hearthstone pro player after his wife criticized the company for laying off 770 employees despite the company's profitable record in 2018.
- Most of their employees often post anti-white comments on Twitter. Some examples include:
- Madeleine Roux, who constantly bashes white people like there's no tomorrow, and also treats customers like trash.
- Kami Garcia, who supports discrimination against whites, and falsely accused them of having more serial killers and pedophiles than any other race.
- LL McKinney, who falsely claims that whites only exist to be racist.
- Molly Knox Ostertag, who claims that older white men are the "plague" of the industry.
- Recently, they are against modding and fan-made content in their games.
- The most infamous example is when they made custom content in Warcraft III: Reforged owned by Blizzard without the creator's consent.
- They shut down Nostalrius, a fan-made, private WoW server that runs on an older, legacy version of World of WarCraft. Thankfully, Blizzard apologized and released World of Warcraft Classic due to backlash.
- Recent patches in their older games have their source codes changed, breaking many mods.
- They fired voice actor Quinton Flynn from his role in World of Warcraft after the sexual harassment allegations against him and refused to hire him back after he proved his innocence. This could also be seen as hypocritical as seen in the next reason below.
- Along with Activision, they've also been exposed for having a toxic work culture and discrimination in July 2021.
- The situation is considered irony, as the report also revealed several cases of sexual harassment and misogynistic treatment against women, despite Blizzard themselves employing several vocal left-wing employees in their company (and left-wing pandering in Activision, to an extent).
- In November 2018, when they announced a mobile F2P "spin-off" of Diablo called Diablo Immortal, fans were so furious that it led into a disastrous damage control campaign.
- When Diablo Immortal was finally released in June 2022, the game proved to be a pay-to-win disaster, as it would take hundreds of thousands of dollars just to fully upgrade a character.
- In June 2022, they announced that Overwatch 2 would completely replace the original Overwatch, making that game unplayable.
- They never care about the external developers as they prefer merging the teams (regardless if it a standalone company or an owned subsidiary):
- They folded Vicarious Visions into Blizzard, as they chose the studio to develop Diablo II: Resurrected instead of Blizzard's own Team 1.
- In June 29, 2022, they acquired Proletariat (the self-published developer of Spellbreak) in order to support World of Warcraft expansion Dragonflight. Because of this, Proletariat plans to end the support of Spellbreak in early 2023.
- Their launcher, Battle.net, forces all their games to be online at all times, except for Starcraft: Remastered, StarCraft II, Warcraft III: Reforged, and Diablo II: Resurrected. Instead, there a 30 day DRM check when the the Play button is greyed out means you cannot play them again until you go online to recheck them.
- Diablo II: Resurrected console ports also used this practice. You will get an authentication error if you don't go online after 30 days.
- In 1998, Cendant (Blizzard's parent company at the time) was involved in an accounting fraud scandal. The company had been overstating its income by $550 million for the past three years. When this report was released to the public, Cendant's market cap dropped by $14 billion. In 2001, Cendant agreed to a $3.2 billion class action settlement, and an additional $32.5 million settlement in 2005.
- As a result, Cendant Software was sold to Havas (a division of Vivendi) for $770 million.
- In 2005, Vice Chairman Kirk Shelton was sentenced to eight years in prison for fraud. In 2007, CEO Walter Forbes was sentenced to 12 years in prison. Each of them was ordered to pay Cendant US$3.275 billion in restitution. Shelton's initial payment was $15 million before his conviction, followed by a rate of $2,000 per month upon his release. At that rate, it would take 135,000 years for Shelton to fully pay Cendant (which is now known as Avis).
- Cendant was mostly known as a travel (Avis, Howard Johnson, Ramada, Super 8) and real estate (Century 21, Coldwell Banker) company. When Blizzard was sold to Cendant, Microsoft general manager Ed Fries remarked, "I just got outbid by a time-share camping business?" Then when Vivendi acquired the studio, Fries told IGN, "this time I get outbid by a French water utility."
- Many of their games are still awesome, such as the Call of Duty titles, except for Black Ops: Declassified, Ghosts, Infinite Warfare, WW2, Black Ops 4, and Vanguard, the Tony Hawk's franchise, except for the Robomodo games and motion, and a plethora of Marvel games.
- They also did released lots of good games back than in the 80s-2000s and despite their flaws back than they still were good until 2013 where they really started to go downhill.
- Although it's a rare occurrence nowadays, they sometimes still make good games thanks to some talented studios under their wing, like Vicarious Visions, Beenox and Toys For Bob.
- They published Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice outside Japan, which is a great single player game. Even better, the only thing they had requested was to add the "Shadows Die Twice" to the title and otherwise had no hand in the development of the game.
- Most of their licensed games such as, Dreamworks Games (except for DreamWorks Super Star Kartz), Marvel Games (except for The Amazing Spider-Man 2), Transformers Games and James Bond Games (except for James Bond 007: Legends) are awesome.
- They are the world's first third-party publisher, making many classics for the Atari 2600 including Pitfall and River Raid.
- They stopped selling multiplayer maps with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019), giving its further maps for free and without any console early access exclusivity like previous Call of Duty installments.
- They're still one of the few companies that still includes split-screen in some of their games.
- They have removed loot boxes from their games, starting with Modern Warfare (2019), in favor of season Battle Passes.
- They successfully revived the Crash Bandicoot franchise, and the success of Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy influenced them to remaster games the same way, such as Spyro Reignited Trilogy, Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled and Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2 (not to be confused with that mediocre remake by Robomodo).
- Thanks to them releasing Angry Birds Troligy and Angry Birds Star Wars on the consoles, there is now another way to play some of the original Angry Birds games due to Rovio deleting almost all of them.
- It's nice to see they're treating the Crash and Spyro series a lot better unlike Universal Interactive who treated Naughty Dog and Traveller's Tales like dirt during development of the Crash PS1 trilogy and Wrath of Cortex such as refusing to pay off the air conditioning when it broke on a hot Californian summer during Crash Bandicoot: Warped's development and forcing TT to restart development of Wrath of Cortex, rushed some of their games such as Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly and Crash Twinsanity which both resulted in a lot of glitches and big amounts of cut content and also launched some of the worst titles to both franchises such as Crash Bandicoot Purple: Ripto's Rampage and Spyro Orange: The Cortex Conspiracy, Crash Boom Bang!, Spyro: Shadow Legacy and Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex. Ultimately, Universal Interactive/Vivendi Universal sold itself to Activision.
- They are no longer partnered with Bungie, which allows Bungie to self-publish Destiny 2 updates.
- Unfortunately, Bungie has also monetized Destiny 2 to death.
- Nowadays they release games a short time after announcing them, instead of announcing them way to early like most companies.
- They still showed support to Nintendo's Wii U while the console was selling poorly, until the end of its lifespan.
- With the news of Microsoft's purchase, there is hope that the company's work culture may improve.
- Bobby Kotick and Phil Spencer are both interested in reviving some of Activision's old franchises.
- Even Toys for Bob's studio head is interested in making another Banjo-Kazooie or Spyro game.
- Phil Spencer said he wants Call of Duty games to be on the Nintendo Switch.
- Xbox may no longer release a new Call of Duty game every year, allowing Activision's studios to explore other projects.
- While Microsoft didn't comment about the allegations after the purchase, they said that once the deal is closed in at least July 2023, Bobby Kotick will leave and Activision will report to Phil Spencer as their CEO.
- Bobby Kotick and Phil Spencer are both interested in reviving some of Activision's old franchises.
Despite their reputation, they used to be one of the best gaming companies with best selling franchises like WarCraft, Diablo, StarCraft, and Overwatch. For the record, in that article, some of the good qualities are still present in the company today, probably only the thing about its logo.
- Activision Blizzard is a public company.
- Activision and Blizzard Entertainment are a subsidiary of Activision Blizzard.
- Vicarious Visions merged into Blizzard
- Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 + 4 plans shelved after Blizzard Entertainment absorbed Vicarious Visions, says Tony Hawk
- Blizzard Absorbs Activision Studio After Dismantling Classic Games Team
- Blizzard leaders J. Allen Brack and Allen Adham on leaks, Reforged lessons, mobile, and more
- Jobs in Albany: Shows the Targeted Jobs with Diablo IV positions.
- Blizzard acquires Spellbreak studio Proletariat to work on World of Warcraft