|This article needs additional citations for verification. (January 2009)|
|Industry||Video game industry|
|Fate||Merged with Activision|
|Successors||Activision Blizzard (Activision)|
|Founded||1993 (as Universal Interactive Studios)
2002 (as Vivendi Universal Games)
2006 (as Vivendi Games)
|Defunct||2008 (merged with Activision)|
|Headquarters||Los Angeles, California, United States|
Spyro the Dragon
Leisure Suit Larry
|Revenue||$1.018 billion USD (2007)|
Vivendi Games, formerly known as Vivendi Universal Games, was the holdings company for Sierra Entertainment and Blizzard Entertainment. Vivendi Games was founded as Vivendi Universal Games after Vivendi bought Universal Studios in the early 2000s. Before then, Vivendi Universal Games was known as Universal Interactive Studios.
Vivendi Games was a 100% subsidiary of Vivendi S.A.. Headed by Bruce Hack, it was headquartered in Los Angeles, California and employed over 3,400 people at 4 separate development divisions. Vivendi Games owned the rights to such popular franchises as Warcraft, StarCraft, Diablo and World of Warcraft (all games developed by Blizzard Entertainment) as well as others like Empire Earth, Leisure Suit Larry, Ground Control, Tribes, Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon owned by Sierra Entertainment. It is now merged with Activision and is known as Activision Blizzard.
The history of Vivendi Games begins in February 1996, when CUC International, a large mail order and subscription company, offered to acquire entertainment software developer Sierra Entertainment. Headquartered in Bellevue, Washington, Sierra published adventure game series such as King's Quest, Gabriel Knight, Space Quest, and Leisure Suit Larry. Sierra was a public company, which employed roughly 1,000 employees at 12 different acquired studios. CUC offered to absorb Sierra's stock shares at a price roughly 90% higher than what Sierra was trading, and on July 24, 1996, Sierra became a wholly owned subsidiary of CUC.
At the same time, CUC also approached Davidson & Associates, a leading publisher and distributor of educational software, with an offer of a similar stock swap. Headquartered in Torrance, California, Davidson published the Math Blaster , Warcraft, and Diablo series. While mainly a game publisher, Davidson also had a major in-house developer in the form of Blizzard Entertainment, which Davidson had acquired in 1994, and employed over 800 employees as of February 1996. Davidson was also a public company, founded and headed by Bob Davidson, who acted as CEO, and also by Jan Davidson, who acted as President.
After acquiring these companies, CUC quickly integrated these two new divisions into the main CUC organization by announcing in September 1996 the creation of CUC Software, a holding company which would consolidate the finance, distribution, manufacturing, accounting, sales, R&D and overall management of CUC's software companies.
Soon after its creation, CUC Software acquired in January 1997 Knowledge Adventure, a leading developer of educational software, which published the JumpStart series of child oriented programs. CUC also acquired Gryphon Software, another educational software company. Davidson & Associates and Gryphon were then absorbed into Knowledge Adventure, and Blizzard Entertainment was made a separate division of CUC Software. In 1997, CUC Software also acquired Berkeley Systems (a California-based developer that published the You Don't Know Jack series) and integrated Berkeley Systems into Sierra On-Line.
CUC then merged with a hotel, real-estate, and car-rental franchiser called HFS Corporation to form Cendant in 1997. In 1998 it became apparent that CUC had engaged in accounting fraud for years before the merger; Cendant's stock lost 80% of its value over the next six months in the ensuing widely discussed accounting scandal. The company sold its consumer software operations, which included Sierra and Blizzard, to French publisher Havas in 1998, the same year Havas was purchased by Vivendi. In June 2000, Vivendi acquired Seagram (owner of Universal Studios) to become Vivendi Universal and Universal's video game division, Universal Interactive, was renamed Vivendi Universal Games in 2002. In 2004, Vivendi Universal Games sold one of its divisions, Knowledge Adventure to a group of private investors.
When parent company Vivendi Universal dropped the "Universal" in its name in 2006 to simply become Vivendi SA, Vivendi Universal Games followed suit and became Vivendi Games. Unlike Vivendi Universal Games, Vivendi Games never published any video game under its own name.
In 2006, Vivendi Games created a new mobile division Vivendi Games Mobile, which was promised to begin publishing and distributing games in 2006 through mobile carriers and portals.
In December 2007 it was announced that Vivendi Games would merge with games publisher Activision, forming Activision Blizzard. In July 2008, the merger went active. Activision Blizzard, the new moniker for the company, now operates the games division of Vivendi SA, later became an independent company on July 25, 2013 (including Vivendi Games).
Blizzard Entertainment is a world-renowned development studio best known for creating the series Warcraft (including World of Warcraft), Diablo and StarCraft. World of Warcraft, one of the most popular MMORPG games, has currently over 7 million subscribers.
Sierra Entertainment creates and publishes software for consoles, handheld gaming devices and personal computers. Sierra Entertainment features a portfolio of titles, including F.E.A.R., Scarface, and Ice Age.
Operating out of Los Angeles, California, Sierra employs over 700 people in development and has four wholly owned studios providing creative talents and development capabilities across multiple gaming genres: High Moon Studios, Radical Entertainment, Swordfish Studios and Massive Entertainment. With the merge of Activision and Vivendi Games, Sierra Entertainment was closed down and both Swordfish Studios and Massive Entertainment have been sold off.
Sierra Online’s titles include Assault Heroes and FreeStyle Street Basketball, an online PC game from Korean developer JC Entertainment, Inc.
The division is also developing a variety of other Xbox Live Arcade and PC online games targeting the mass market.
The former studio owned by Universal Studios before being bought by Vivendi. Universal Interactive was known for publishing and distributing the Crash Bandicoot & Spyro the Dragon games, along with games based on films from Universal Pictures. Around 2001, Universal Interactive Studios name was shortened to Universal Interactive. Around 2002, Universal Interactive was known as Vivendi Universal Games.
Vivendi Games Mobile
Vivendi Games Mobile, a newly formed division, creates and publishes games for the worldwide mobile market. The division publishes games based on original intellectual property, popular entertainment licenses and classic Sierra Entertainment intellectual property games which are distributed by more than 90 operators and dozens of Web portals in more than 60 countries.
Vivendi Games Mobile has launched a number of award-winning titles, including SWAT Force which was named “Best Wireless Game of the Year” by Spike TV in December 2006.
Vivendi Games Mobile ceased operations in early 2009.
Main article: Fox Interactive
In March 2003, Fox Interactive Inc. was acquired by Vivendi Universal Games.
- René Pénisson, Chairman, Vivendi Games
- Bruce Hack, CEO, Vivendi Games
- Michael Morhaime, President, Blizzard Entertainment
- Martin Tremblay, President Worldwide Studios, Sierra Entertainment
- Al Simone, Senior Vice President, Global Marketing Sierra Entertainment
- Ed Zobrist, President, Sierra Online
- Paul Maglione, President, Vivendi Games Mobile
- "VIVENDI AND ACTIVISION TO CREATE ACTIVISION BLIZZARD – World’s Largest, Most Profitable Pure-Play Video Game Publisher" (Press release). Activision, Vivendi. 2007-12-02. Retrieved 2007-12-02.
- "World Of Warcraft Reaches 11 Million Mark". Kotaku. 2008-01-22. Retrieved 2009-01-29.