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Activision

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Activision
Founded: 1979-10-01
T-series code: T-130
Merged into: Vivendi (2008)
Headquarters: Santa Monica, California, United States

Activision Publishing, Inc. is an American video game publisher, and one of the largest companies of its type in the world.

History

Activision, Inc. was founded in October 1979 by four programmers (David Crane, Larry Kaplan, Alan Miller and Robert Whitehead) from Atari. After discovering their efforts represented 60% of the company's sales at the time (valued at over $60 million), they prompted Atari to start treating its staff like the music industry, paying programmers royalties and allowing them to be recognised for their work in the products sold, rather than just allowing Atari to take credit. Renegotiations failed and Activision was formed to fullfil their demands.

Activision represented a number of firsts in the industry, being one of the first third-party game developers for the Atari 2600 (and by extension, third-party software houses, period), the first to fully credit its staff in video game releases (albeit just in manuals at first due to technology restraints) and the first video game company to use a name earlier in the alphabet than "Atari" in order to be found more quickly (a practise also mirrored in later companies such as Accolade, Acclaim and Absolute Entertainment).

Activision was enormously successful in the early years, but was hit by the North American video game crash of 1983, which subsequently led to lower sales, employees leaving and a renewed focus on home computer games. It purchased struggling developer Infocom in 1986 (which it would close in 1989) and would attempt to diversify into other types of computer software aside from games. This change of pace caused the company to change its name to Mediagenic, with "Activision" being retained as a brand for games (alongside Infocom).

In 1981 an "international" company had been set up as Activision (UK) Inc., and by 1983/1984 it was a success in its own right, supporting numerous European home computers. It was this branch of Activision (which for a while traded as Activision Entertainment Software) which first interacted with Sega, securing the license to publish several Sega arcade games for home computers.

The firm had a confused presence during the late 1980s, trading as both Mediagenic (the official name) and Activision (the more well-known name) depending on the situation (after creating the Electric Dreams label in the UK, customers could find that for support, they were contacting not Electric Dreams, but "Mediagenic" headquartered at "Activision House" in London).

Financial issues, including multi-million dollar patent infringement lawsuits, prompted the firm to be purchased by a group of investors led by Robert Kotick. Management filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy, after which significant structural changes to the company occurred and the headquarters moved. The Mediagenic name would be dropped in 1992, with the company reverting back to Activision, and with this, a renewed focus on video games.

Activision's subseqent success with the likes of the MechWarrior series of games led to rapid growth during the 1990s, resulting in more publishing and distribution deals, as well as developer acquisitions. In 2000 Activision Inc. became the name of a holding company to manage the group's subsidiaries, while the official name for the publisher changed to "Activision Publishing, Inc.". A merger with Vivendi Entertainment (owner of Sierra and Blizzard) in 2008 led to the creation of a new holding company Activision Blizzard.

Since the late-2000s, Activision and Electronic Arts have battled to be the largest video game publisher in the world. Activision owns such properties as Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, Guitar Hero and most notably, Call of Duty.

For a time, Sega PC games were published by one of Activision's subsidiaries; Activision Value Publishing.

Softography

SG-1000

Amstrad CPC

Commodore 64

ZX Spectrum

Atari ST

Amiga

Master System

Mega Drive

Mega-CD

Sega 32X

Saturn

Dreamcast

Nintendo DS

Gallery

References

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