The corporate giant Blizzard Entertainment, which is in a symbiotic state next to the Megaton game maker Activision, went fuzzy on Friday with a surprise announcement: It has taken over a game studio within the Activision family with immediate effect.
Vicarious Visions, a long-time game studio acquired by Activision in 2005, has been mixed out of the Activision ecosystem and pumped straight into Blizzard's veins. In a statement offered to GamesIndustry.biz, Blizzard confirmed that Vicarious Vision's 200+ employees have been transferred to a "long-term support" team that will focus solely on "existing Blizzard games and initiatives". The news also includes a mild leadership change that will see current deputy studio manager Jen Oneal join the Blizzard Leadership Board as Executive Vice President of Development.
The statement did not make it clear when this agreement began and which of Blizzard's "existing" projects in particular would be supported by the deputy’s staff. (Representatives from Blizzard did not immediately respond to Ars Technica's questions about the deal.) At the time of going to press, neither Blizzard nor Vicarious have posted details or terms about the deal on their respective blogs or social media channels. In fact, the Vicarious Visions website is currently completely offline.
Where will they end up in the credits scroll?
Vicarious certainly has its share of publicly announced Blizzard projects between Overwatch 2, Diablo IV, and the expansion of World of WarCraft, which ultimately unfolds like a clockwork. Or, hell, maybe Vicarious was brought on board to get WarCraft III: Reforged out of its shameful spiral as the Most Disappointing Video Game of 2020.
Whatever the projects, the staff are sure not to continue the studio's stellar track record as one of Activision's brighter spots. Whether it was the studio's stellar job getting Tony Hawk's 2020 Pro Skater 1 + 2 into twitching, perfect shape, massaging the original Crash Bandicoot trilogy into a solid remaster, or even one of the best co-op brawlers in the Delivering the Marvel Universe in an Era Before Iron Man regained the public image of the comic book empire, Vicarious will forever be remembered as an Activision ray of hope. We hope this will continue to apply to the team's future work as it gets shuffled into the bottom of a credits scroll for existing Blizzard properties.
Blizzard has rarely bothered to take over an outside studio – with "Blizzard North" being the biggest exception when the company took over the existing team from David Brevik (then called Condor) in 1995 to officially join the Blizzard family. That closed a tender war: "3DO offered us twice as much money," Brevik said in a GDC presentation in 2016. "We turned them down. Really because we felt that Blizzard really got us and got us ( Diablo 1). We were so close to the corporate culture and beliefs. "