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Blizzard Albany

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Blizzard Albany
FormerlyVicarious Visions, Inc. (1991–2022)
Company typeSubsidiary
IndustryVideo games
Founded1991; 33 years ago (1991)
  • Karthik Bala
  • Guha Bala
Key people
Number of employees
200+ (2021)
Websitevvisions.com at the Wayback Machine (archived March 20, 2022) (now redirects to blizzard.com)

Blizzard Albany (formerly Vicarious Visions, Inc.) is an American video game developer and a studio of Blizzard Entertainment based in Albany, New York. The studio was acquired by Activision in January 2005. After releasing its last game as part of that company, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2, Vicarious Visions became part of Activision's sister company Blizzard Entertainment in January 2021 and was merged into it in April 2022, thereby being renamed Blizzard Albany.


Final Vicarious Visions logo used from 2017 until its rebrand in 2022

The studio was founded by brothers Karthik and Guha Bala in 1991 while they were in high school.[1] In the late 1990s, Vicarious Visions appointed Michael Marvin, an Albany-based investor and entrepreneur, and founder and former CEO of MapInfo Corporation; and Charles S. Jones, investor, who sat on the boards of various software and industrial companies including Geac and PSDI, to its board of directors. Under their leadership, a sale of the company was negotiated to Activision, earning the original investors over 20x their initial investment.[citation needed] In January 2005, Vicarious Visions was acquired by publisher Activision. In June 2007, Activision closed the Vicarious Visions' office in Mountain View, California.[2] On April 5, 2016, the Bala brothers announced that they had left the company.[3] The brothers then founded Velan Studios in November 2016.[4]

On January 22, 2021, Vicarious Visions was moved by Activision Blizzard from a subsidiary of Activision to a subsidiary of Blizzard Entertainment. Going forward, the more than 200 employees of Vicarious Visions will be employees of Blizzard.[5] Vicarious had been working with Blizzard for about two years prior to this announcement, and specifically on the planned remaster of Diablo II, Diablo II: Resurrected, and Blizzard felt the move would be best as to have Vicarious' group provide continued support not only on the remaster but also on other Diablo properties including Diablo IV.[6][7] Vicarious Visions studio head Jen Oneal moved to Blizzard's management and was succeeded by Simon Ebejer, previously the studio's chief operating officer.[8] On October 27, 2021, Blizzard informed Vicarious Visions employees that the studio would change its name.[9] The studio was fully merged into Blizzard on April 12, 2022, and was renamed Blizzard Albany, otherwise retaining its offices.[10][11]

Blizzard Albany's QA team, about 20 members in size, announced a unionization drive in July 2022 as GWA Albany. It follows Raven Software, another Activision Blizzard subsidiary, whose QA team voted to unionize earlier in the year.[12]

Game history[edit]

Terminus, an online multiplayer space trading and combat simulation game, won two Independent Games Festival Awards in 1999. They became known as a leading developer of handheld games breaking ground by the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater series, developing Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS titles in the franchise's main series as well as one spin off. They developed the first three Crash Bandicoot GBA games. Vicarious Visions developed Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2: Enter Electro, Ultimate Spider-Man, Crash Nitro Kart, Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast, Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy, and Doom 3 for the Xbox. Vicarious Visions developed for the Guitar Hero series on the Nintendo DS and Wii platforms. For Guitar Hero: On Tour, Vicarious Visions created the "Guitar Grip" peripheral for the Nintendo DS, which emulates the guitar controller for the portable system.

It was revealed on June 10, 2011, that Vicarious Visions was working on the 3DS version of Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure, and would go on to have an important role in developing the Skylanders game series, creating the games Skylanders: Swap Force and Skylanders: SuperChargers.[13] On December 8, 2016, Vicarious Visions announced that they were partnering with Bungie to work on the Destiny franchise.[14]

Game engine[edit]

Vicarious Visions Alchemy is the company's game engine. It was released in 2002. It was originally called Intrinsic Alchemy and developed by Intrinsic Graphics before being renamed after Vicarious Visions acquired Intrinsic Graphics in 2003.[15]

Games developed[edit]

Year Game Platform(s) Notes
1996 Synnergist Microsoft DOS (PC CD-ROM)
1997 Dark Angael Microsoft Windows
1999 Zebco Fishing! Game Boy Color
Vigilante 8
2000 Polaris SnoCross Game Boy Color, Nintendo 64, PlayStation, Microsoft Windows
Terminus Microsoft Windows, MacOS, Linux
Spider-Man Game Boy Color
The Wild Thornberrys: Rambler
Pro Darts
Barbie: Magic Genie Adventure
Jimmy White's Cue Ball
2001 Wanadoo SnowCross Game Boy Color, Microsoft Windows
Rescue Heroes: Fire Frenzy Game Boy Color
Blue's Clues: Blue's Alphabet Book
SpongeBob SquarePants: Legend of the Lost Spatula
Zoboomafoo: Playtime in Zobooland
Monsters, Inc.
Kelly Club: Clubhouse Fun
Sea-Doo Hydrocross PlayStation
Spider-Man 2: Enter Electro
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 Game Boy Advance
Power Rangers: Time Force
Spider-Man: Mysterio's Menace
2002 Crash Bandicoot: The Huge Adventure
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3
Frogger Advance: The Great Quest
SpongeBob SquarePants: Revenge of the Flying Dutchman
The Powerpuff Girls: Him and Seek
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 Game Boy Advance, PlayStation
Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast GameCube, Xbox
Whiteout Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2, Xbox
2003 The Muppets: On With The Show! Game Boy Advance, Microsoft Windows
Crash Bandicoot 2: N-Tranced Game Boy Advance
Bruce Lee: Return of the Legend
X2: Wolverine's Revenge
Finding Nemo
Jet Set Radio
Disney's Extreme Skate Adventure
Disney's The Lion King 1½
Tony Hawk's Underground
SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom
Disney's Brother Bear
Crash Nitro Kart Game Boy Advance, GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox, N-Gage
Spy Muppets: License to Croak Game Boy Advance, Microsoft Windows
Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy Xbox
2004 Rivet Mobile phone
Spider-Man vs. Doc Ock
Shrek 2 Game Boy Advance
Crash Bandicoot Purple: Ripto's Rampage and Spyro Orange: The Cortex Conspiracy
Shark Tale
Tony Hawk's Underground 2
That's So Raven
Shrek 2: Beg For Mercy!
Codename: Kids Next Door – Operation: S.O.D.A.
Spider-Man 2 Nintendo DS, PlayStation Portable
2005 Doom 3 Xbox
Madagascar: Operation Penguin Game Boy Advance
Batman Begins
X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse PlayStation Portable
Madagascar Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS
Ultimate Spider-Man
Tony Hawk's American Sk8land
2006 Over the Hedge
Over the Hedge: Hammy Goes Nuts Game Boy Advance
Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam Nintendo DS
Marvel: Ultimate Alliance PlayStation Portable, Wii
2007 Spider-Man 3 Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, Wii
Shrek the Third Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS
Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock Wii
Transformers: Decepticons Nintendo DS
Transformers: Autobots
Tony Hawk's Proving Ground
Bee Movie Game
2008 Kung Fu Panda
Guitar Hero: On Tour
007: Quantum of Solace
Guitar Hero On Tour: Decades
Guitar Hero: Aerosmith Wii
Guitar Hero World Tour
2009 Guitar Hero 5
Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Band Hero Nintendo DS, Wii
Mixed Messages DSiWare
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen - Decepticons Nintendo DS
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen - Autobots
Guitar Hero On Tour: Modern Hits
2010 Transformers War for Cybertron: Decepticons
Transformers War for Cybertron: Autobots
Guitar Hero iOS
Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock Wii
2011 Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure Nintendo 3DS
2012 Skylanders: Cloud Patrol iOS, Android, Kindle Fire
Skylanders: Lost Islands iOS, Android
Skylanders: Battlegrounds
Skylanders: Giants Wii U
2013 Skylanders: Swap Force PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Wii U,[16] Xbox 360, Xbox One
2014 Skylanders: Trap Team iOS, Android, Kindle Fire
2015 Skylanders: SuperChargers PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii U, iOS
2016 Skylanders: Imaginators (Crash Edition) PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch
2016 Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
2017 Destiny 2[a] Microsoft Windows
Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC
2020 Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2 PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch
2020 Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S Assisted Raven Software
2021 Call of Duty: Warzone PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S Assisted Raven Software
2021 Diablo II: Resurrected PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC[17] Co-developed with Blizzard Team 3
2023 Diablo IV PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC Co-developed with Blizzard Team 3

Cancelled games[edit]

Year Game Platform(s)
2000 AMF Xtreme Bowling [citation needed] Game Boy Color
VR Sports Powerboat Racing
Carnivale [citation needed]
2001 Sea-Doo Hydrocross Game Boy Color, Dreamcast, Nintendo 64
2003 Shaun Palmer's Pro Snowboarder 2[18] Game Boy Advance
Static Shock[19]
2008 Call of Duty: Roman Wars [20] Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
2010 DJ Hero 3D [citation needed] Nintendo 3DS
2011 Guitar Hero 7 [citation needed] PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii
2012 Untitled Crash Bandicoot game [citation needed]
2016 Donkey Kong Freedom [citation needed] Nintendo Switch
2017 Untitled Skylanders game [citation needed] PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii U, Switch
2021 Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 + 4[21] Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch


  1. ^ As a support team for Bungie


  1. ^ Frank, Allegra (April 5, 2016). "Vicarious Visions co-founders move on after 25 years". Polygon. Archived from the original on November 8, 2020. Retrieved May 26, 2021.
  2. ^ Handy, Alex (June 7, 2007). "Exclusive: Activision Closes Vicarious Visions' CA Office". Gamasutra. Archived from the original on February 1, 2021. Retrieved January 27, 2021.
  3. ^ Futter, Mike (April 5, 2016). "Vicarious Visions Co-Founder Brothers Depart After 25 Years". Game Informer. Archived from the original on April 8, 2016. Retrieved April 5, 2016.
  4. ^ "Bala brothers found Velan studios". Market for Computer & Video Games. November 21, 2016. Archived from the original on June 14, 2021. Retrieved June 4, 2021.
  5. ^ Sinclair, Brendan (January 22, 2021). "Vicarious Visions merged into Blizzard". GamesIndustry.biz. Archived from the original on January 22, 2021. Retrieved January 22, 2021.
  6. ^ Schreier, Jason (January 22, 2021). "Blizzard Absorbs Activision Studio After Dismantling Classic Games Team". Bloomberg News. Archived from the original on February 24, 2021. Retrieved January 22, 2021.
  7. ^ Minotti, Mike (February 22, 2021). "Blizzard leaders J. Allen Brack and Allen Adham on leaks, Reforged lessons, mobile, and more". Venture Beat. Archived from the original on February 22, 2021. Retrieved February 22, 2021.
  8. ^ Bankhurst, Adam (January 22, 2021). "Activision Merges Blizzard and Vicarious Visions". IGN. Archived from the original on May 20, 2021. Retrieved February 18, 2022.
  9. ^ "Vicarious Visions to drop its name and fully merge with Blizzard, sources say". Polygon. October 27, 2021. Archived from the original on October 30, 2021. Retrieved October 31, 2021.
  10. ^ Middler, Jordan (April 12, 2022). "Tony Hawk studio Vicarious Visions is no more as it completes merger with Blizzard". Video Games Chronicle. Retrieved April 12, 2022.
  11. ^ Kennedy, Victoria (April 12, 2022). "Skylanders dev Vicarious Visions is officially renamed Blizzard Albany". Eurogamer. Retrieved April 14, 2022.
  12. ^ "Blizzard QA workers in Albany are organizing Activision's second union". July 19, 2022.
  13. ^ "Report: Job Losses At Vicarious Visions". Nintendo World Report. June 10, 2011. Archived from the original on June 14, 2011. Retrieved June 14, 2011.
  14. ^ McWhertor, Michael (December 8, 2016). "Destiny Development Team Expands With Vicarious Visions". Polygon. Archived from the original on December 8, 2016. Retrieved January 4, 2017.
  15. ^ "Vicarious Visions Acquires Intrinsic Graphics Technology". www.gamasutra.com. Archived from the original on July 15, 2020. Retrieved June 15, 2019.
  16. ^ East, Thomas (July 2, 2013). "Skylanders Swap Force Wii will be very close to the HD versions". Official Nintendo Magazine. Archived from the original on July 5, 2013. Retrieved October 3, 2013.
  17. ^ Machkovech, Sam (February 19, 2021). "Diablo II Resurrected tops BlizzCon announcement flurry". Ars Technica. Archived from the original on February 20, 2021. Retrieved February 20, 2021.
  18. ^ jkdmedia (May 4, 2012). "Shaun Palmer's Pro Snowboarder 2 Talent Announcement". GameZone. Retrieved June 7, 2023.
  19. ^ "Static Shock – In Development". VVisions.com. Vicarious Visions. Archived from the original on August 16, 2003. Retrieved March 1, 2023.
  20. ^ published, Leon Hurley (July 5, 2016). "The incredible story of Roman Wars: The lost Call of Duty game". gamesradar. Retrieved June 2, 2024.
  21. ^ Reilly, Luke (June 20, 2022). "Tony Hawk Confirms Plans for Pro Skater 3 + 4 Remake Were Abandoned After Blizzard Merger". IGN. Retrieved June 21, 2022.

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