Vivendi Games, formerly known as Vivendi Universal Interactive Publishing or Vivendi Universal Publishing then Vivendi Universal Games or VU Games, was a wholly owned subsidiary of Vivendi responsible for video game developers inherited after acquiring Havas and Universal Interactive Studios.
Headed by Bruce Hack, it was headquartered in Los Angeles, California and employed over 3,400 people at four separate development divisions. Vivendi Games owned the rights to franchises such as Warcraft, StarCraft, Diablo and World of Warcraft (all games developed by Blizzard Entertainment), as well as others like Empire Earth, Ground Control, Tribes, Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon owned by Sierra Entertainment.
- 1 History
- 2 Divisions
- 3 See also
- 4 References
- 5 External links
The direct predecessor of Vivendi Games was Universal Interactive, the game publishing division of Universal Studios. Founded in 1993, it was best known for publishing the Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon series, along with games based on Universal properties.
CUC Software was founded 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. 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.
Vivendi Universal Games
In June 2000, Vivendi acquired Seagram (owner of Universal Studios) to become Vivendi Universal, and Universal Interactive joined Vivendi's acquired studios under the new division Vivendi Universal Interactive Publishing in 2000. 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. It ceased to publish under its own name and instead assigned those duties to its divisions. Spyro and Crash Bandicoot were assigned to Sierra Entertainment in this arrangement.
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.
Under Activision Blizzard, the former subsidiaries of Vivendi Games turned into divisions of Activision. The exception was Blizzard Entertainment who was kept entirely separated from Activision and became instead a direct subsidiary of the holding company Activision Blizzard (much like Activision).
Activision Blizzard would continue to serve as the games division of Vivendi SA, until it became an independent company on July 25, 2013.
Blizzard Entertainment is a development studio best known for creating the series Warcraft (including World of Warcraft), Diablo, StarCraft and Overwatch. World of Warcraft, one of the most popular MMORPG games, has currently over 3.5 million subscribers. Blizzard Entertainment functioned independently to Vivendi Games, and remains as an independent subsidiary of Activision Blizzard.
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 employed over 700 people in development and had four wholly owned studios providing creative talents and development capabilities across multiple gaming genres: High Moon Studios, Radical Entertainment, Swordfish Studios and Massive Entertainment. After the Activision Blizzard merger, Sierra was closed down and both Swordfish Studios and Massive Entertainment were sold off. The Sierra brand name was revived in 2014 by Activision, who use the brand to re-release Sierra titles, alongside some Independently developed titles.
Sierra Home was a division of Sierra that released software for computers, such as Hallmark Card Studio, Print Artist and various Home Designer programs. This subsidiary was closed in 2004, with Vivendi Universal Games selling many of the franchises off to Nova Development.
Sierra Online’s titles include Assault Heroes and FreeStyle Street Basketball, an online PC game from Korean developer JC Entertainment, Inc.
The division was closed in 2009, after the merger of Vivendi Games with Activision.
The direct predecessor of Vivendi Games was Universal Interactive, the game publishing division of Universal Studios. Founded in 1993, it was best known for publishing the Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon series, along with games based on Universal properties. After the foundation of Vivendi Universal Games, Universal Interactive was downgraded to a publishing label only and was later folded into Vivendi Universal Games in 2003, with most former games released under the label being released under the Vivendi Universal Games or Sierra Entertainment labels.
Coktel Vision published educational games such as Adiboo. They were originally a Sierra subsidiary, but went on to develop games for Knowledge Adventure after the company was acquired. Coktel Vision was later renamed to Coktel Studio by Vivendi Universal Games in 2003 and expanded to a publishing label, mainly releasing Kid-Friendly titles. Coktel Studio was sold off in 2005 to Mindscape after Vivendi Universal decided to exit the educational game business, which they did when they sold Knowledge Adventure off to an independent investor in 2004.
Knowledge Adventure published educational games and software for PC's, and occasionally consoles. They were sold by Vivendi Universal Games to an independent investor in 2004.
NDA Productions was a short-lived publishing label of Vivendi Universal Games Europe formed after the purchase of Massive Entertainment in 2004. It only released one game: Die Hard: Vendetta, and was folded before releasing their next game Judge Dredd: Dredd vs. Death, which was eventually released under the Sierra Entertainment label.
Black Label Games
Black Label Games was a publishing label of Vivendi Universal Games formed in 2002 to publish more mature titles such as The Thing. The label was folded in 2004.
Vivendi Games Mobile
Vivendi Games Mobile created and published games for the worldwide mobile market. The division published games based on original intellectual property, popular entertainment licenses and classic Sierra Entertainment intellectual property games which were distributed by more than 90 operators and dozens of Web portals in more than 60 countries.
Vivendi Games Mobile 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.
In March 2003, Fox Interactive was acquired by Vivendi Universal Games, and was turned into a label for 20th Century Fox licensed titles. It was closed down in 2006.
- List of video game companies
- List of video game publishers
- List of assets owned by Vivendi
- List of Vivendi Games video games
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- "VIVENDI AND ACTIVISION TO CREATE ACTIVISION BLIZZARD – World's Largest, Most Profitable Pure-Play Video Game Publisher" (Press release). Activision, Vivendi. 2007-12-02. Archived from the original on 2008-04-09. Retrieved 2007-12-02.
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- Seppala, Timothy J. (October 13, 2013). "Activision Blizzard completes buyback from Vivendi Universal in multi-billion dollar deal". endgadget. Archived from the original on January 3, 2016. Retrieved 2015-08-29.