Activision Blizzard

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Activision Blizzard, Inc.

legal form public company
ISIN US00507V1098
founding July 10, 2008
Seat Santa Monica , California , United States
United States 
management Robert Kotick ( President & CEO )
Brian Kelly ( Chairman )
number of employees 9,200 (2019)
sales volume $6.49 billion (2019)
industry video games
As of December 31, 2019

Activision Blizzard is a computer and video game corporation based in Santa Monica , California , United States. The company was formed from the merger of publisher Activision with Vivendi Universal Games . In terms of sales, the company is the market leader in the computer and video games sector. The company's shares are traded on the NASDAQ under the symbol ATVI . Majority owner was Vivendi until July 2013 .

The company was formed on July 10, 2008 through the merger of the US group Activision and Vivendi Games, a 100 percent subsidiary of the media company Vivendi. Vivendi's games division was integrated into Activision, for which Vivendi received a majority stake in Activision Blizzard with 52 percent of the shares. Vivendi has options to increase its stake to 68 percent.

The Blizzard component in the company name goes back to the computer games developer Blizzard Entertainment , which Vivendi Games brought into the new group. Due to the general awareness through the development of the computer game World of Warcraft , the high share of sales in Vivendi Games and the independence that the studio enjoys both under Vivendi Games and in the new group, the merger partners decided to accommodate Blizzard in the name of the company .

In January 2022, the takeover of the group by Microsoft was announced. In the room is a purchase price of almost 68.7 billion US dollars.



Activision was founded on October 1, 1979 by four former Atari game developers David Crane , Larry Kaplan , Alan Miller and Bob Whitehead and music industry manager Jim Levy . The developers had been involved in the development of video games for the Atari 2600 games console in previous years . Differences arose between them and their employer because of how he handled the games that had been developed. The developers were particularly critical of not being involved in the success of a game - not even their name was mentioned. This prompted her to start her own company. Jim Levy was supposed to put the company on an economically stable footing and became CEO . Activision became the first legally independent video game developer. In 2003, the developers received The First Penguin Award at the Game Developers Conference for this step .

In the early years, Activision developed games for the Atari 2600 and was also the first game manufacturer for consoles not built by itself. This new situation led to legal battles from the inception of Activision until 1982. Also released in 1982 was Pitfall, developed by David Crane ! , Activision's most successful game for the Atari 2600. Pitfall! reached a sales figure of over four million copies and was also commercially very successful for Activision.

Declining sales of the Atari 2600 and the financial security provided by high sales figures meant that Activision also turned to other platforms in the early 1980s and opened up further markets with the development of games for other game consoles and the start of the production of computer games for PCs . However, the further course of action of the expansion did not ensure the approval of all founders, so that in 1984 Alan Miller and Bob Whitehead resigned and founded the new computer game developer Accolade together. In 1986, Activision acquired troubled text adventures developer Infocom . Jim Levy was a big advocate of this takeover, which was internally controversial. However, he was not able to show quick successes in the restructuring of Infocom. He resigned six months after the takeover; he was succeeded by Bruce Davis, who had opposed the takeover. David Crane then left Activision in 1986 due to personal differences between him and Davis.

Under Davis's leadership, a restructuring of the group began. In addition to computer and video games, other application software should also be produced. This led to Activision being renamed Mediagenic in 1988, as this name was deemed more appropriate to cover the full spectrum of the redesigned group. However, Activision continued to be used as a brand in the games industry. However, the application software business did poorly from the start. The company's business figures also deteriorated rapidly in the late 1980s. The studios taken over by Infocom also continued to make losses. As a consequence, the Infocom development departments acquired through the takeover were closed in 1989, only eleven of 26 employees received a takeover offer, five accepted it. However, the company, now called Mediagenic, stuck to its broader positioning, although the application areas also posted losses. By 1992, the situation had deteriorated so dramatically that Mediagenic had to file for bankruptcy. Bruce Davis left the company as a result.

The company was reorganized as a result of the insolvency: Only the profitable computer and video game segment was continued, and Mediagenic also took over the developer The Disc Company as part of the insolvency proceedings . In December 1992, the company also got back its original name with Activision. With the release of game collections, the new company management rebuilt the transformed company. The most successful collection was the summary of Infocom's games published under the title "The Lost Treasures of Infocom", which worked unprofitably under Activision until it was closed. In the period that followed, Activision also acted more as a publisher for other development studios. Beginning in the later 1990s, Activision expanded primarily through strategic acquisitions of development studios already under contract to Activision, prominent examples being the acquisitions of Raven Software in 1997 and Neversofts , developer of the Tony Hawk's series , in 1999 On its 25th birthday in 2004, Activision once again reported record business figures and, since bankruptcy in 1992, profits have been increasing every year.

The focus was also increased on the licensing and implementation of games for well-known series such as Star Trek or Spider-Man . Own well-known brands such as the Call-of-Duty franchise of the developer Infinity Ward , which was taken over in 2003, are actively exploited through the regular publication of successors. The sometimes very short publication cycles, which a development studio cannot implement alone, led to some series being produced in parallel by two game developers. Since series games sold significantly better on game consoles , Activision's strength in the merger with Vivendi Games was the console division.

Vivendi Games

French conglomerate Vivendi acquired Havas in 1998 . By taking over this French media agency, the company entered the computer games market. In the same year, Havas had taken over Cendant Software , which had been stumped by a massive accounting scandal, and had thus acquired ownership of the computer games division. Cendant Software itself was formed in December 1997 through the merger of CUC International , a service company, and real estate company HFS Incorporated. CUC International only got big in February 1996 with the acquisition of the computer games company Sierra Entertainment and the intermediary Davidson & Associates , who had bought Blizzard Entertainment in 1994 shortly before their breakthrough with the Warcraft game , for a total of over 3 billion US dollars entered business.

While Blizzard Entertainment, as a clearly managed, individual and commercially successful development studio, survived the change of ownership without any major problems, Sierra experienced a crisis as a result. From 1997 the company was no longer managed with a clear line; In 1998 and 1999 there were several restructurings, as a result of which many employees lost their jobs. In 1999, Sierra founder Ken Williams , who left the company in 1997, sent a letter to all departing employees expressing his condolences and regret for what had become of the company he had founded.

With the last reorganization under Vivendi, Sierra was set up primarily as a publisher: most of the development studios closed in 1999. However, even in the first five years of the 21st century, Sierra was not profitable, so Vivendi decided in 2004 to also close the last two development studios that Sierra owned, Impressions Games and Papyrus Games . So Blizzard Entertainment remained the only development studio in Vivendi's possession, which at that time was presenting better and better business figures.

World of Warcraft , developed by Blizzard Entertainment, was released in 2005 and was designed as an online role-playing game with monthly fees. In its first year of full operations, Blizzard generated more than $1 billion in revenue from monthly fees alone. These successes meant that Vivendi was able to report new record numbers every quarter, and the importance of Sierra in the company continued to decline. Since Blizzard only created games for the PC market, these also represented the main sales area for Vivendi Games.

Activision Blizzard

Activision Blizzard emerged from the merger of Activision and Vivendi Games announced on December 2, 2007 , with the Vivendi group initially holding 52 percent of the shares. However, Vivendi planned to ultimately hold 68 percent of the shares in Activision Blizzard through share buybacks. The shareholders approved the transaction on July 8, 2008; the cartel authorities had already approved the merger beforehand, so Activision Blizzard has been operating as a company since July 10, 2008.

Fine for cartel participation

In February 2011, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) upheld a €500,000 fine against Activision Blizzard. The reason was participation in a cartel for Nintendo video game consoles and data carriers. Illegal agreements should restrict parallel trade (Ref.: C-260/09 P). The Commission imposed fines totaling 167.843 million euros on Nintendo , various authorized dealers and Activision Blizzard Germany GmbH. Activision Blizzard was supposed to pay a fine of €1 million, but the amount was reduced to €500,000 because of Activision Blizzard's passive role. The company appealed, which was rejected by the ECJ, so that the fine became final.

Detachment from Vivendi

In July 2012, Vivendi wanted to sell Activision Blizzard. According to information from Reuters , potential buyers included Microsoft and Tencent as well as Time Warner . However, a sale did not materialize.

In July 2013, speculation arose about a forced special dividend totaling three billion US dollars to Activision Blizzard shareholders, from which the indebted majority shareholder Vivendi would have benefited in particular. However, this was not in the interests of the company management, since the liquidation of the money deposits abroad would have been associated with financial losses due to tax payments. In addition, the cash reserves were planned to buy the company free from Vivendi. A few days later it was finally announced that Activision Blizzard would separate from its majority owner. Accordingly, Vivendi wants to reduce its shareholding from 61 to 12 percent. These should be taken over for a total of 20 billion US dollars by Activision Blizzard itself and a group of investors around company boss Bobby Kotick and his deputy Brian Kelly. Activision Blizzard's share of the total is said to be $5.83 billion, including $1.2 billion from its own cash.

Acquisition of King Digital Entertainment

On November 2, 2015, Activision Blizzard announced that it would acquire game app developer King Digital Entertainment for a purchase price of $5.9 billion.

Activision Blizzard scandal 2021

In June 2021, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) brought Activision-Blizzard before the Los Angeles Superior Court. The reason for the indictment was a previous two-year investigation by the state agency, which found that primarily Company's female employees have faced sexual harassment, gender discrimination and retaliation.

The lawsuit also referred to an Activision employee who committed suicide with her male manager during a company outing. Shortly after the indictment was published, several hundred employees gathered in front of the company's headquarters in California to protest the abuses. The indictment by the state authorities had quick consequences and caused consequences even before the verdict by the court. After Blizzard President Allen Brack resigned in October 2021, he was followed by the company's former head of human resources, Jesse Meschuck.

The share price also suffered from the scandal and at times fell by more than 12%. However, the final verdict by the court is still pending.

Acquisition by Microsoft 2022

On January 18, 2022, the software company Microsoft announced that it would fully take over Activision Blizzard. The purchase price was $68.7 billion, making it the largest takeover in Microsoft history.


Major games and game series by this company include Diablo , StarCraft ( II ), Warcraft , Crash Bandicoot , Call of Duty , Guitar Hero , James Bond , Tony Hawk's , Spider-Man , Spyro , World of Warcraft , Scarface: The World Is Yours , Hearthstone , Heroes of the Storm , Skylanders , Overwatch and various Star Trek games .

web links


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