Video game publishing giant Activision who are well known for publishing all of the games in the hugely successful Call of Duty series. On the 9thof July 2008 the deal was closed that Activision would merge with Vivendi Games who had already bought Blizzard Entertainment, the creators of such games as World of Warcraft and Starcraft. After the merger the company was known as Activision Blizzard Inc. despite French Conglomerate Vivendi SA owning a majority share in the company, former Activision CEO, Robert Kotick, was left at the head of the newly merged company.

The idea for the company came when four video game developers that worked for Atari got sick of helping them make hundreds of thousands of dollars for a $20,000 salary and not getting any credit for making the games. Four developers, David Crane, Bob Whitehead, Larry Kaplan and Alan Miller, went to an attorney with their idea of creating a company that developed and published video games that gave credit and recognition to the creators of the game. The attorney put them in touch with Jim Levy, an executive from the music industry who had the same idea. So on Monday the 1st of October 1979, Activision was born.

The company started off with creating a series of games for the Atari 2600 console and by 1983 had sold massive amounts of games. One of which was David Crane’s “Pitfall” which was and still is considered to be to be the first run and jump platform game and on its own sold over 4 million copies.

Soon after Activision became the worlds leading video games developer / publisher other small companies started to pop up everywhere trying to be the next Activision. This caused a slump in the market because non of these companies lasted longer than a year and their creations, although poor quality were been sold at a quarter of the price of Activision’s titles sometimes even less, because the companies that made them were out of business there was warehouses full of cartridges that had been made but not sold.

This slump caused Activision to take action and spread their Atari titles onto other platforms such as ColecoVision and Intellivision and also start publishing titles for the rising PC market that was emerging. 1984 saw the sequel to Crane’s “Pitfall”, “Pitfall II: Lost Caverns” and the first film tie in game, “Ghostbusters” which were both released over a variety of platforms including the Commodore 64 and the Atari 8-bit computer.

In the summer of 1986, Activision decided to help out a company called Infocom, the pioneers of the Text Adventure genre were struggling financially. Jim Levy was a big fan of Infocom’s titles and wanted to company to stay in business so he provided them with a way out by Activision buying Infocom. But soon after the “InfoWedding” as it was known, the board of directors at Activision decided that it was time for Levy to go and replaced him with Bruce Davis.

With Davis in control of the company it saw a change in leadership style and also in direction. Davis decided that he wanted to broaden the companies horizons and began to stick his finger into the Application Software market and changed the name of the company to Mediagenic despite still releasing games under the Activision label.

Soon after this the was non of the founding fathers left in the company as Larry Kaplan had left four years earlier, 1982, to take a Vice President position at Atari. Bob Whitehead and Alan Miller left in 1984 when Activision’s stocks started to plummet and they went on to form Accolade, another Third Party Games developer which was mostly comprised of ex-Activision employees, much like Activision started out with ex-Atari employees. Then after Jim Levy was replaced as CEO it left David Crane on his own surviving on his own in a currently failing company so in 1986 after the InfoWedding, Crane left Activision to join the first third party Nintendo publisher, Absolute Entertainment.

After this the company went from bad to worse until when in the early 1990’s, Mediagenic were overtaken by the BHK Corperation, headed by Robert Kotick. Kotick got the company back on the straight and narrow, by 1992 he had changed merged the Mediagenic with a company named The Disk Company and changed the corporation’s name back to Activision and decided to focus only on creating Video Games.

In the last twenty years the company have gone from strength to strength and as technology has grown, Activision has grown with it, creating hundreds of fantastic games that have influenced millions of people. They have acquired many games studios and also undergone a Merger with another video game developing/publishing giant in 2008 and come out of it with the same CEO and also as one of the biggest third party games publishers in the world.

http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/1537/the_history_of_activision.php

http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2010-01/27/pitfall-creator-david-crane-named-videogame-pioneer

http://investor.activision.com/timeline.cfm

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