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Down Goes Activision! Bought by Microsoft for nearly $70B

For an extensive look at the glorious early years of Activision, have a read of my article, here: https://thedoteaters.com/?bitstory=console/activision

Microsoft has a deal to buy long-time video game company Activision, to the tune of $68.7 billion. That’s a lot of CoD Points! Looking back at the history of Activision, there’s a certain amount of schadenfreude in them being finally snapped up themselves. Through the years, the company has done a fair bit of acquiring of their own. For example:

  • In 1997, they acquired Raven Software, makers of the Heretic FPS games. With Raven closely associated with Doom and Quake makers id Software, this eventually gave Activision an in with id itself. Raven was eventually eviscerated with targeted lay-offs, and as with many dev teams within Activision, is now part of the Call of Duty factory.
  • Neversoft, makers of the Tony Hawk skateboarding games, got picked up in 2000. It was shuttered by Activision in 2014, its remaining team members redirected to… you guessed it… cranking out Call of Duty games.
  • Speaking of Call of Duty (which you do a lot of when it comes to Activision), developer Treyarch was drafted into Activision in 2001. Which marches us to…
  • Infinity Ward had made Medal of Honor: Allied Assault in 2002, and was subsequently picked up by Activision in 2003. They would, of course, be the impetus Call of Duty developers. Activision switches between Infinity Ward and Treyarch as lead designers of each new version of CoD.
  • Grey Matter Interactive (ne: Xatrix Entertainment) had a deal with id to make Return to Castle Wolfenstein in 1999. With id’s close relationship with Activision, Grey Matter ended up gobbled up by them in 2002. Spoiler Alert! They ended up merged with Treyarch to make Call of Duty games! Surprise!
  • RedOctane made their name by pairing with Harmonix to make the Guitar Hero games. After being purchased by Activision in 2006, they were spared the ignominy of having to toil away on the Call of Duty rockpile by being closed down in 2010.
  • There’s few long-standing developers as creative-minded as Toys for Bob, started by Paul Reiche III (the Archon games with Freefall Associates, Mail Order Monsters) and Fred Ford in 1989. After making the first two successful Star Control games (we don’t talk about Star Control 3), they found huge success with the Skylander games, marrying real-life figurines with video games. Picked up by Activision in 2005…. do I really have to say this… they’re put to work on Call of Duty games in 2021.

And of course, there’s the big one, when Activision merged with Vivendi, owners of World of Warcraft makers Blizzard Entertainment, to form Activision Blizzard in 2008.

So, when it comes to Activision these days, to paraphrase The Dark Knight: You either get shut down as a developer, or live long enough to see yourself working on Call of Duty games. In the above list, there wasn’t one description of a developer acquired by Activision where I didn’t also have to include the title Call of Duty! That’s what Activision has become: a Call of Duty factory. Game developers are bought, their talent steadily stripped away, and often eventually shuttered or absorbed. It’s a long way away from the initial vision of Activision, that of under-appreciated game designers lifted out of the enforced anonymity of Atari and allowed to take wing as gaming superstars.

For an extensive look at the glorious early years of Activision, have a read of my article, here: https://thedoteaters.com/?bitstory=console/activision