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Template:Infobox Company Activision headquarters in Santa Monica. Activision Inc. is an American video game developer and publisher. It was founded on October 1, 1979.[1], and was the first independent developer and distributor of video games for gaming consoles. Its first products were cartridges for the Atari 2600 video console system. Activision is now one of the largest third party video game publishers in the world and was also the top publisher for 2007 in the United States [2] On January 18, 2008, Activision announced they were the top US publisher in 2007, according to the NPD Group.[3]

On December 2, 2007, it was announced that Activision would be acquired by Vivendi Games. The merger took place on July 9, 2008, with the newly formed company Activision Blizzard, owned by the French company, Vivendi. [4]

Contents

History

Before the formation of Activision, software for video game consoles were published exclusively by makers of the systems for which the games were designed. For example, Atari was the only publisher of games for the Atari 2600. This was particularly galling to the developers of the games, as they received no financial rewards for games that sold well, and did not receive credit for their games. This caused several programmers to resign from their jobs. Activision became the first third-party game publisher for game consoles.[5]

The company was founded by former music industry executive Jim Levy and former Atari programmers David Crane, Larry Kaplan, Alan Miller and Bob Whitehead. Atari's company policy at the time was not to credit game creators for their individual contributions; Levy took the approach of crediting and promoting game creators along with the games themselves. The steps taken for this included devoting a page to the developer in their instruction manuals[6][7][8] and challenging players to send in a high score (usually as a photograph, but sometimes as a letter) in order to receive a patch.[9][10][11][12] These draws helped the newly formed company attract experienced talent. Crane, Kaplan, Levy, Miller, and Whitehead received the Game Developers Choice "First Penguin" award in 2003, in recognition of this step.

The departure of the four programmers, whose titles made up more than half of Atari's cartridge sales at the time, caused legal action between the two companies which were not settled until 1982. As the market for game consoles started to decline, Activision branched out, producing game titles for home computers and acquiring smaller publishers.

In 1982, Activision released Pitfall!, which is considered by many to be the first platform gameTemplate:Fact as well as the best selling title on the Atari 2600. Pitfall! was a huge success for the company and the developers. Due to this success, many clones of the game were introduced, including stand-up arcade games. This also launched the entire platform genre which became a major part of video games through the 1980s.

On June 13, 1986, Activision merged with struggling text adventure pioneer Infocom. Jim Levy was a big fan of Infocom's titles and wanted Infocom to remain solvent. About six months after the "InfoWedding", Bruce Davis took over as CEO of Activision. Davis was against the merger from the start and was heavy-handed in its management. He also made marketing changes on Infocom which caused sales of their games to plummet. Eventually in 1989, after several years of losses, Activision closed down the Infocom studios in Cambridge, Massachusetts, extending to only 11 of the 26 employees an offer to relocate to Activision's headquarters in Silicon Valley. Five of them accepted this offer.[13]

In 1988, Activision started to get involved in other types of software besides video games, such as business applications. As a result, Activision changed its corporate name to Mediagenic in order to have a name that would globally represent all its fields of activities. (Mediagenic is often mistaken to be a company that purchased Activision but in reality it was only Activision with a different name). Despite this change, Mediagenic continued to largely use the Activision brand on its video games of the various platforms it was publishing for, notably the Nintendo Entertainment System, the Sega Master System, the Atari 7800, Atari ST, Commodore 64 and Amiga. The decision of the company to get involved in various fields at the expense of video gaming proved to be a move so bad that in 1992 Mediagenic filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

New Activision

The failure of Mediagenic resulted in a reorganization and merger with The Disc Company, with Mediagenic again being the acquirer. After emerging from bankruptcy, Mediagenic officially changed its entity name back to Activision in the state of Delaware on December 1992. At that point Activision moved its headquarters from Silicon Valley to Southern California. While emerging from bankruptcy, it continued to develop games for PCs and video game consoles, and resumed making strategic acquisitions. Activision chose from then on to only concentrate on video gaming and nothing else.

In 1991, Activision packaged 20 of Infocom's past games into a CD-ROM collection called The Lost Treasures of Infocom sans most of the feelies Infocom was famous for. The success of this compilation led to the 1992 release of 11 more Infocom titles in The Lost Treasures of Infocom II.


Acquisitions and partnerships

Year Acquisition
1997 Raven Software made an exclusive publishing deal with Activision and was subsequentally acquired by them. This partnership resulted in HeXen II, Heretic II, Soldier of Fortune, its sequel and Quake 2. That same year, Activision acquired CentreSoft Ltd., (an independent distributor in the United Kingdom) and NBG Distribution (a German distributor).
1998 Pandemic Studios was founded with an equity investment by Activision. Pandemic's first two games, Battlezone II and Dark Reign 2, were both sequels to Activision games. That same year, Activision also inked deals with Marvel Entertainment, Head Game Publishing, Disney Interactive, LucasArts Entertainment and CD Contact Data.
1999 Activision acquired Neversoft Entertainment, best recognized for their line of Tony Hawk skateboarding games. That same year, Activision acquired Expert Software (maker of Home Design 3D).
2000 Activision made an equity investment in Gray Matter Interactive, to develop the follow-up to id Software's Wolfenstein 3D.
2001 Activision acquired rights to Columbia Pictures' feature film Spider-Man. That same year, Activision also acquired Treyarch Invention LLC.
2002 Activision made an equity investment in Infinity Ward, a newly formed studio comprised of 22 of the individuals who developed Medal of Honor: Allied Assault. That same year, Activision acquired Z-Axis Ltd. (the studio behind Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX) and Luxoflux Corporation.
2003 Activision and DreamWorks SKG inked a multi-year, multi-property publishing agreement. That same year, Activision also formed a partnership with Valve and acquired both Infinity Ward (developers of the Call of Duty franchise) and software developer Shaba Games LLC.

Activision and Sega Corporation made a deal to publish the US releases of P.C. versions of some titles, especially Sonic Adventure DX, Director's Cut.

Activision, along with several other game software publishers, was investigated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for its accounting practices, namely the use of the "return reserve" to allegedly smooth quarterly results.

2004 The company marked its 25th anniversary, and stated that it had posted record earnings and the twelfth consecutive year of revenue growth.
2005 Activision acquired game developers Vicarious Visions, Toys for Bob and Beenox, Inc..
2006 Activision secured the video game license to make games based on the world of James Bond from MGM Interactive. An exclusive agreement between the two begins in September 2007 with Activision's first game set to be released in May 2008 being developed by Treyarch, Beenox and Vicarious Visions.[14] Also in 2006, Activision acquired publisher RedOctane, Inc. (the publisher of the Guitar Hero franchise).
2007 Activision acquired the control of games developer Bizarre Creations.
2007 Activision acquired Irish multiplayer technology company Demonware. [15]
2008 Activision acquired UK games studio FreeStyleGames.[16]
2008 merged with blizzard

Merger with Vivendi

In December 2007, it was announced that Activision would merge with Vivendi Games which owns fellow games developer and publisher Blizzard, and the merger would later close in July 2008. The new company is called Activision Blizzard and is headed by Activision's former CEO, Bobby Kotick. Vivendi is the biggest shareholder in the new group. [17] The new company is estimated to be worth $18.9 billion, slightly ahead of Electronic Arts who is valued at $14.1 billion.[18]

Notable published titles

Studios

References

Template:Reflist

External links

Development studios

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