Activision Blizzard, Inc., formerly Activision, Inc. is the American holding company for Activision and Blizzard Entertainment, majority owned by French conglomerate Vivendi SA. The company is the result of a merger between Activision and Vivendi Games, announced on December 2, 2007, in a deal worth USD$18.8 billion. The deal closed July 9, 2008. The company believed that the merging of the two companies would create "the world’s largest and most profitable pure-play video game publisher". It believes that it is the only publisher that has "leading market positions across all categories" of the video game industry.
In December 2007, Activision announced that the company and its assets would merge with fellow games developer and publisher, Vivendi Games. René Penisson, formerly a member of the Management Board of Vivendi and Chairman of Vivendi Games, would serve as Chairman of Activision Blizzard. Bobby Kotick, once head of Activision, was announced to become President and CEO of Activision Blizzard.
In April 2008, the European Commission permitted the merger to take place. The Commission essentially needed to approve that there weren't any antitrust issues in the merger deal. On July 8, 2008, Activision announced that stockholders had agreed to merge. The deal closed on July 9, 2008, and the total transaction was an estimated $18.9 billion. Vivendi was the majority shareholder, with a 52% stake in the company. The rest of the shares were held by institutional and private investors and continue to be traded on the NASDAQ stock market, for the first 10 trading days post closing as ATVID, and subsequently as ATVI. Jean-Bernard Levy will replace René Penisson as chairman of Activision Blizzard.
Activision and Blizzard Entertainment still exist as separate entities. The holding company does not publish games under its central name and instead uses its subsidiaries to publish games, similar to how Vivendi Games operated before the merger. The merger makes Activision parent company of Vivendi Games former divisions.
While Blizzard retained its autonomy and corporate leadership, other Vivendi Games divisions did not. For example, long-time label Sierra ceased operation. With the merger, there was a rumor that if a Sierra product did not meet Activision's requirements, they "won't likely be retained." Some of Sierra's games such as Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon and Prototype have been retained and are now published by Activision. Also, due to the closure of Sierra, the Sierra Community Forums servers have been shut down as of the 1st of November 2008.
Results of the merger
Shortly after the conclusion of the merger, Thomas Tippl, CFO, alluded to future layoffs, stating that the company "will exterminate some of our overlap through redundancy – but we will treat people fairly and respectfully in that process." Also, games such as Brütal Legend, Ghostbusters: The Video Game, The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena, World in Conflict: Soviet Assault, 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand, Zombie Wranglers, Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust and Wet were all dropped from the publisher to be picked up by other companies.
- Activision in Santa Monica, California, founded on October 1, 1979, merged with Vivendi Games on July 9, 2008.
- Beenox in Quebec, Canada, founded in May 2000, acquired on May 25, 2005.
- Bizarre Creations in Liverpool, England, founded as Raising Hell Productions in 1987 and changed name in 1994, acquired on September 26, 2007.
- Blizzard Entertainment in Irvine, California, founded in February 1991 as Silicon & Synapse, acquired in 1998 by Vivendi, merged with Activision on July 9, 2008.
- Budcat Creations in Iowa City, IA, founded September 2000 in Las Vegas, Nevada, acquired on November 10, 2008.
- DemonWare in both Dublin, Republic of Ireland, and Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, founded in 2003, acquired on May 2007.
- FreeStyleGames in Leamington, England, United Kingdom, founded in 2002, acquired September 12, 2008.
- High Moon Studios in San Diego, California, founded as Sammy Entertainment in April 2001, acquired by Vivendi Games in January 2006.
- Neversoft in Los Angeles, California, founded in July 1994, acquired October 1999.
- Radical Entertainment in Vancouver, Canada, founded in 1991, acquired in 2005.
- Raven Software in Madison, Wisconsin, founded in 1990, acquired in 1997.
- Seven Studios in Los Angeles, California, founded in 1999, acquired in April 2009.
- Sledgehammer Games in Foster City, California, founded November 17, 2009
- Toys For Bob in Novato, California, founded in 1989, acquired May 3, 2005.
- Treyarch in Santa Monica, California, founded in 1996, acquired 2001.
- Vicarious Visions in Albany, New York, founded in 1990, acquired January 2005.
- RedOctane in Mountain View, California, founded November 2005, acquired in 2006, closed February 11, 2010.
- Luxoflux in Santa Monica, California, founded in January 1997, acquired October 2002, closed February 11, 2010.
- Shaba Games in San Francisco, California, founded in September 1997, acquired in 2002, closed on October 8, 2009.
- Sierra Entertainment, founded as On-Line Systems in 1979, changed name to Sierra On-Line in 1982, eventually changed name to Sierra Entertainment, closed in 2008.
- Vivendi Games, founded as Universal Interactive Inc., acquired by Vivendi in December 2000, changed name to Vivendi Universal Games in 2002, changed name to Vivendi Games on May 2, 2006, closed July 9, 2008 after Activision Blizzard merger.
- Wanako Studios in New York, New York, founded in 2005, acquired by Vivendi Games on February 20, 2007, sold to Artificial Mind and Movement on November 20, 2008.
- Swordfish Studios in Birmingham, England, founded in September 2002, acquired by Vivendi Universal Games in June 2005, sold to Codemasters on November 14, 2008.
- Massive Entertainment in Malmö, Sweden, founded in 1987, acquired by Vivendi Universal Games in 2002, sold to Ubisoft on November 10, 2008.
- Knowledge Adventure in Los Angeles, California, founded in 1989, sold in 2004.
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- Activision Blizzard (ATVI) annual SEC balance sheet filing via Wikinvest
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- "Video game giants in $18bn merger". BBC. 2007-12-02. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/7123582.stm. Retrieved 2007-12-03.
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- Blizzard stay autonomous in Activision merger, Sierra not so lucky - Strategy Informer
- Brutal Legend, Ghostbusters, more dropped by Activision
- Sierra Community Forums - Closure Announcement[dead link]
- INTERVIEW - Thomas Tippl | Gaming Industry | Interview by MCV
- Activision Acquires U.K. Game Developer Bizarre Creations from Activision's website