Activision Blizzard

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Activision Blizzard, Inc.
Public
Traded as NASDAQATVI
NASDAQ-100 Component
S&P 500 Component
Industry Computer and video games
Interactive entertainment
Founded 2008 (as Activision, Inc.)
Headquarters Santa Monica, California, U.S.
Coordinates 34°01′10″N 118°27′09″W / 34.0195°N 118.4524°W / 34.0195; -118.4524Coordinates: 34°01′10″N 118°27′09″W / 34.0195°N 118.4524°W / 34.0195; -118.4524
Area served
Worldwide
Key people
Brian Kelly (Chairman)
Mike Griffith (Vice Chairman)
Bobby Kotick (President and CEO)
Products Activision:
Call of Duty series
Destiny
Guitar Hero series
Skylanders series
Tony Hawk's series
Blizzard Entertainment:
Diablo series
Heroes of the Storm
Overwatch
StarCraft series
Warcraft series
King Digital:
Candy Crush Saga
Revenue Increase$4.664 billion (2015)
Increase$1.319 billion (2015)
Increase$892 million (2015)
Total assets Increase$15.251 billion (2015)
Total equity Increase$8.068 billion (2015)
Number of employees
9,000 (May 2016)[1]
Divisions Activision
Blizzard Entertainment
Activision Blizzard Studios
Media Networks
King Digital Entertainment
Website www.activisionblizzard.com
Footnotes / references
[2][3][4]

Activision Blizzard, Inc. is one of the largest interactive gaming and entertainment companies in the world.[5] Headquartered in Santa Monica, California and founded in 2008[6] through the merger of Vivendi Games[7] and Activision, the company is traded on the S&P 500[6] and NASDAQ under the ticker symbol NASDAQATVI.[8] Activision Blizzard currently includes five business units:[9] Activision, Blizzard Entertainment, Major League Gaming,[10] Activision Blizzard Studios,[11][12] and King Digital Entertainment.[13]

The company owns and operates additional studios under an independent studios model, including Treyarch, Infinity Ward and Toys for Bob,[9] and its titles have broken a number of release records.[14] Call of Duty: Black Ops III grossed $550 million in worldwide sales during its opening weekend in 2015, making it the biggest entertainment launch of the year.[15][16] The company's franchises also include Call of Duty,[17] Destiny,[18] Skylanders,[19] Blizzard Entertainment's World of Warcraft, StarCraft,[9] Diablo, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, and Overwatch, Sierra Entertainment's King's Quest, Space Quest, Police Quest and SWAT, Leisure Suit Larry, and The Legend of Spyro, and King's Candy Crush Saga, Pet Rescue Saga, and Farm Heroes Saga.[13]

History[edit]

Merger into Activision Blizzard (2007–08)[edit]

Activision Blizzard's headquarters in Santa Monica, California, United States. The building also serves as headquarters for its division, Activision.

In December 2007, Activision announced that the company and its assets would merge with fellow games developer and publisher Vivendi Games. At the time, Vivendi was best known as the holding company for the game studios Sierra Entertainment and Blizzard Entertainment. The new company was to be named Activision Blizzard, and would retain its central headquarters in California. Bobby Kotick of Activision was announced as the new president and CEO, while René Penisson of Vivendi was appointed chairman.[20] The European Commission permitted the merger to take place in April 2008, approving that there weren't any antitrust issues in the merger deal.[21] On July 8, 2008, Activision announced that stockholders had agreed to merge, and the deal closed the next day for an estimated transaction amount of US$18.9 billion.[22]

Vivendi was the majority shareholder, with a 52% stake in the company.[22][23] The rest of the shares were held by institutional and private investors, and were to be left open for trading on the NASDAQ stock market for a time under NASDAQATVID, and subsequently as NASDAQATVI. At this point, Jean-Bernard Levy replaced René Penisson as chairman of Activision Blizzard.[8] The merger made Activision Blizzard the parent company of Vivendi Games' former divisions.[24] While Blizzard retained its autonomy and corporate leadership in the merger, other Vivendi Games divisions such as Sierra ceased operation.[25] With the merger, Kotick was quoted stating if a Sierra product did not meet Activision's requirements, they "won't likely be retained."[25] However, a number of Sierra's games such as Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon and Prototype were retained and are now published by Activision.[26]

New titles and sales records (2009–12)[edit]

Activision Blizzard does not publish games under its central name and instead uses its studios to publish games.[27] In early 2010, the independent studio Bungie entered into a 10-year publishing agreement with Activision Blizzard.[28][29] By the end of 2010, Activision Blizzard was the largest video games publisher in the world.[30] The 2011 release of Activision Blizzard's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 grossed $400 million in the US and UK alone in its first 24 hours, making it the biggest entertainment launch of all time.[17] It was also the third consecutive year the Call of Duty series broke the biggest launch record; 2010's Call of Duty: Black Ops grossed $360 million on day one; and 2009's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 brought in $310 million.[14] Call of Duty: Black Ops III grossed $550 million in worldwide sales during its opening weekend in 2015, making it the biggest entertainment launch of the year.[15][16]

In 2011, Activision Blizzard debuted its Skylanders franchise,[19] which led to the press crediting the company with inventing and popularizing a new toys-to-life category.[19][31][32] The first release Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure was nominated for two Toy Industry Association awards in 2011: "Game of the Year" and "Innovative Toy of the Year".[33] Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure and its sequels were released for major consoles and PC, and many were released on mobile devices as well.[19]

Split from Vivendi and growth (2013–14)[edit]

Activision Blizzard at Gamescon 2013, where the company exhibited 2013 titles such as Call of Duty: Ghosts and Skylanders: Swap Force.

On July 25, 2013, Activision Blizzard announced the purchase of 429 million shares from owner Vivendi for $5.83 billion, dropping the shareholder from a 63% stake to 11.8% by the end of the deal in September.[34] At the conclusion of the deal, Vivendi was no longer Activision Blizzard's parent company,[35] and Activision Blizzard became an independent company as a majority of the shares became owned by the public. Bobby Kotick and Brian Kelly retained a 24.4% stake in the company overall. In addition, Kotick remained the president and CEO, with Brian Kelly taking over as chairman.[34] On October 12, 2013, shortly after approval from the Delaware Supreme Court, the company completed the buyback, along the lines of the original plan.[36] Vivendi sold half its remaining stake on May 22, 2014, reducing its ownership to 5.8%.[37]

Activision Blizzard released a new title, Destiny, on September 9, 2014. The game made over $500 million in retail sales on the first day of release, setting a record for the biggest first day launch of a new gaming franchise.[18] On November 5, 2013, the company released Call of Duty: Ghosts, which was written by screenwriter Stephen Gaghan.[38] On its first release day the game sold $1 billion into retail.[18] In 2014, Activision Blizzard was the fifth largest gaming company by revenue worldwide,[39] with total assets of US $14.746 billion and total equity estimated at US $7.513 billion.[3]

S&P 500 and new divisions (2015–16)[edit]

Activision Blizzard joined the S&P 500 on August 28, 2015, becoming one of only three companies on the list related to gaming, alongside Microsoft and Electronic Arts.[6] The company released the next iteration of the Skylanders franchise in September 2015, which added vehicles to the "toys to life" category.[40] On September 15, 2015, Activision and Bungie released Destiny: The Taken King, the follow up to the Destiny saga. Two days later, Sony announced that the game broke the record for the most downloaded day-one game in PlayStation history, in terms of both total players and peak online concurrency.[41]

Activision Blizzard announced on November 2, 2015 that it would acquire social gaming company King, creator of the popular casual game Candy Crush Saga, for $5.9 billion.[13] At an Investor Day presentation on November 6, 2015, in the wake of the Warcraft feature film, Activision Blizzard announced the formation of Activision Blizzard Studios, a film production division dedicated to creating original television series and films. Headed by producer Stacey Sher and former The Walt Disney Company executive Nick van Dyk, Activision Blizzard Studios would look to produce an animated television series based on Skylanders called Skylanders Academy and films based on the Call of Duty franchise,[12] and partner with Legendary Pictures on possible sequels to the Warcraft movie.

Activision Blizzard owns the Call of Duty and Starcraft franchises, both of which have been popular as esports.[10][42] On October 21, 2015, Activision Blizzard announced the upcoming establishment of a new e-sports division.[11] Named Activision Blizzard Media Networks, the division is led by sports executive Steve Bornstein and Major League Gaming (MLG) co-founder Mike Sepso, with assets from the acquisition of the now defunct IGN Pro League. Bornstein was appointed the new division's chairman.[10][42] On December 31, 2015, it was reported that "substantially all" of Major League Gaming's assets would be acquired by Activision Blizzard.[10][42] The New York Times reported that the acquisition was intended to bolster Activision Blizzard's push into e-sports, as well as its plan to develop an e-sports cable channel.[43] Reports indicated that MLG would be shuttered, and that the majority of the purchase price would go towards paying off the company's debt.[10][42] Activision Blizzard acquired MLG on January 4, 2016[43] for $46 million.[10][42]

Products[edit]

Game studios[edit]

See also: List of Vivendi Games divisions, list of Sierra Ent. studios, and list of Activision studios
Incomplete list of studios that have been owned or operated by Activision Blizzard
Studio name Headquarters Founded Notes Current
status
Activision Santa Monica, California 1979 (Oct 1) Merged with Vivendi Games on July 9, 2008. Active
Activision Blizzard Media Networks 2015 (Oct) Formed as an Activision Blizzard division in October 2015, utilized assets and staff from the acquisition of IGN Pro League. Active
Activision Blizzard Studios United States 2015 (Nov) Announced as a film production division on November 6, 2015.[12] Active
Beachhead Studios Santa Monica, California 2011 (Feb) Founded and wholly owned by Activision,[44] team originally built Call of Duty ELITE.[45] Active
Beenox Quebec City, Quebec, Canada 2000 (May) Acquired on May 25, 2005. Active
Blizzard Entertainment Irvine, California 1991 (Feb) Founded as Silicon & Synapse, acquired in 1998 by Vivendi, merged with Activision on July 9, 2008. Active
Demonware Dublin, Ireland
Vancouver, Canada
2003 Acquired in May 2007. Active
FreeStyleGames Leamington Spa, United Kingdom 2002 Acquired on September 12, 2008. Active
High Moon Studios San Diego, California 2001 (Apr) Founded as Sammy Corporation, acquired by Vivendi Games in January 2006. Active
Infinity Ward Encino, Los Angeles 2002 Acquired in October 2003. Active
King Digital Entertainment Stockholm, Sweden 2003 (Aug.) Acquired by Activision Blizzard for $5.9 billion on February 23, 2016.[46] Active
Major League Gaming New York City 2002 Acquired by Activision Blizzard in January 2016. Active
Radical Entertainment Vancouver, Canada 1991 Acquired by Vivendi Games in 2005. Active
Raven Software Madison, Wisconsin 1990 Acquired in 1997. Active
Sierra Entertainment Fresno, California 1979 Founded as On-Line Systems, changed name to Sierra On-Line in 1982, eventually changed name to Sierra Entertainment, closed in 2008,[47] reopened in 2014. Active
Sledgehammer Games Foster City, California 2009 (Nov 17) An independent, wholly owned subsidiary of Activision since 2009.[48][49][50][51] Active
Toys for Bob Novato, California 1989 Acquired on May 3, 2005. Active
Treyarch Santa Monica, California 1996 Acquired in 2001. Active
Vicarious Visions Menands, New York 1990 Acquired in January 2005. Active
7 Studios Los Angeles, California 1999 Acquired in April 2009, closed on February 11, 2010. Defunct
Activision Value Eden Prairie, Minnesota 2001 Merged into Activision in 2010, changed name to Activision Publishing Minneapolis. Defunct
Berkeley Systems Berkeley, California 1987 Acquired by Sierra Entertainment in 1997, closed in 2000. Defunct
Bizarre Creations Liverpool, England[52] 1987 Founded as Raising Hell Productions, the studio changed names in 1994. Acquired on September 26, 2007, closed on January 20, 2011. Defunct
The Blast Furnace Leeds, United Kingdom 2011 (Nov) Founded as Activision Leeds, changed name in August 2012, closed in March 2014. Defunct
Blizzard North San Mateo, California 1993 Founded as Condor, purchased and renamed by Blizzard Entertainment in 1996, closed in 2005. Defunct
Bright Star Technology Bellevue, Washington 1980 Acquired by Sierra Entertainment in 1992. Defunct
Budcat Creations Iowa City, Iowa 2000 (Sep) Acquired on November 10, 2008, closed on November 16, 2010.[53] Defunct
Davidson & Associates 1989 Acquired by CUC International in 1996, closed in 1999. Defunct
Dynamix Eugene, Oregon 1984 Acquired by Sierra Entertainment in August 1990, closed on August 14, 2001. Defunct
Fox Interactive Los Angeles, California 1994 Formed as a division of 20th Century Fox, acquired by Vivendi Games in 2003, closed in 2006. Defunct
Gray Matter Interactive Los Angeles, California 1994 Founded as Xatrix Entertainment before name change, acquired in January 2002, merged into Treyarch in 2005. Defunct
Green Thumb Software Acquired by Sierra Entertainment in 1995. Defunct
Impressions Games Cambridge, Massachusetts 1989 Acquired by Sierra Entertainment in 1995, closed April 2004. Defunct
Impressions Games Cambridge, Massachusetts 1989 Acquired by Sierra Entertainment in 1995, closed April 2004. Defunct
Infocom Cambridge, Massachusetts 1979 (Jun 22) Acquired in 1986, closed in 1989. Defunct
Luxoflux Santa Monica, California 1997 (Jan) Acquired in October 2002, closed on February 11, 2010.[54] Defunct
Neversoft Los Angeles, California 1994 (Jul) Acquired in October 1999, merged into Infinity Ward on May 3, 2014[55] and was officially made defunct on July 10, 2014.[56] Defunct
Papyrus Design Group Watertown, Massachusetts 1987 Acquired by Sierra Entertainment in 1995, closed in May 2004. Defunct
PyroTechnix Founded as Computer Presentation, acquired by Sierra Entertainment in February 1996, closed in 1999. Defunct
RedOctane Mountain View, California 2005 (Nov) Acquired in 2006, closed on February 11, 2010. Defunct
Shaba Games San Francisco, California 1997 (Sep) Acquired in 2002, closed on October 8, 2009. Defunct
Synergistic Studios 1978 Acquired in 1996, studio closed in 1999. No longer involved in the video game industry. Defunct
Underground Development Redwood Shores, California 1994 Acquired in May 2002, closed on February 11, 2010. Defunct
Vivendi Games Los Angeles, California 1990s Founded as Universal Interactive Studios, acquired by Vivendi in December 2000, changed name to Vivendi Universal Games in 2002, changed name to Vivendi Games on May 2, 2006, closed on July 9, 2008 after Activision Blizzard merger.[47] Defunct
Yosemite Entertainment Oakhurst, California 1998 Formed as a division of Sierra Entertainment, closed in 1999 then sold to Codemasters that year. Defunct
Coktel Vision Paris, France 1985 Acquired by Sierra Entertainment in 1993, sold to Mindscape in 2005. Sold
Headgate Studios Bountiful, Utah 1992 Acquired April 1996, sold to original owner in 1999. Sold
Knowledge Adventure Southern California 1989 Sold in 2004. Sold
Massive Entertainment Malmö, Sweden 1997 Acquired by Vivendi Games in 2002, sold to Ubisoft on November 10, 2008. Sold
Swordfish Studios Birmingham, England 2002 (Sep.) Acquired by Vivendi Games in June 2005, sold to Codemasters on November 14, 2008. Sold
Wanako Studios New York City 2005 Acquired by Vivendi Games on February 20, 2007, sold to Artificial Mind and Movement on November 20, 2008. Sold
- "Active" denotes a studio operated by Activision Blizzard as of January 2016.

Legal[edit]

In 2009, Business Insider reported that Worlds.com was claiming it owned the patent to "the idea of a scalable virtual world with thousands of users," with the company's CEO asserting that "he intends to sue anyone who refuses to enter into licensing negotiations - including giants such as Second Life and World of Warcraft.[57] On March 30, 2012, Worlds Inc. filed a patent infringement lawsuit in Massachusetts Federal Court alleging Activision Blizzard had infringed on two patents involving 3-D virtual environments.[58] The lawsuit focused on the Call of Duty and World of Warcraft franchises,[59] and during pre-trial oral arguments, Activision Blizzard lead counsel was quoted stating "billions were at stake."[60] Activision Publishing filed a separate patent infringement lawsuit in California on October 4, 2013,[58] asserting that Worlds, Inc. was using two Activision-owned patents in its Worlds Player software.[61]

In March 2014,[62] a Boston court ruled that Activision was not required to pay Worlds.com "for using talking avatars in popular online titles like World of Warcraft," with the judge clarifying that "the patents belonging to Worlds Inc. appear invalid because the inventions they describe already appeared in public before the patents were filed." Worlds Inc. was limited to only suing Activision Blizzard for "future acts of infringement." In response, Worlds.com announced they would instead be pursuing the recent release Call of Duty: Ghosts for damages.[63] The Worlds, Inc. case against Blizzard Activision was heard on October 3, 2014, with results still unannounced by the end of the year.[64] On June 26, 2015, the Massachusetts courts released a ruling that clarified technical terms for the lawsuit.[65]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]