Activision has just recently shut down another developer, Vancouver-based Radical Entertainment, which was responsible for the Prototype franchise. Activision’s reasoning was that “although we made a substantial investment in the Prototype IP, it did not find a broad commercial audience.” The developer, which was in business for 17 years prior to being acquired by the House of Kotick, lasted only 4 years after the buyout.
It definitely seems like Activision is responsible for the closing of a lot of developers after acquiring them. This got David Houghton at GamesRadar thinking: exactly how many studios has Activision axed this generation? The answer: almost the amount of developers currently working under the auspices of the mega-publisher, and three times as many as have been sold.
Who can forget Sierra Entertainment and the hit adventure games it produced in the 80s and 90s, such as Leisure Suit Larry and King’s Quest? After expanding into publishing, Sierra had a hand in releasing Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon games, as well as the original Half-Life and Counter-Strike. After a bumpy 29 years of existence, seeing a number of acquisitions and reorganizations, Activision closed down Sierra Entertainment shortly after the merger with Vivendi that lead to the formation of Activision-Blizzard in 2008, lasting less than a year after being acquired by the publisher.
Another standout developer shuttered by Activision is Bizarre Creations. The successful Project Gotham Racing and Geometry Wars series are the handiwork of this studio. After being gobbled up by Activision in its 19th year in business and putting out Geometry Wars 2, Bizarre was enlisted to develop a new driving game that played like a mashup of Mario Kart and Project Gotham, the latter of which could not be further milked by Activision as it was not acquired from Microsoft along with the acquisition of the developer. Thus, Blur was born, but struggled to differentiate itself from the myriad arcade racing games that were flooding the market at the time. After Blur saw only middling sales, Activision relegated Bizarre to developing for the James Bond franchise, ultimately leading to its demise and closing after 3 years of trying to serve Activision’s shareholders.
See the story of 9 other developers that were gutted by Activision after being acquired by the publishing behemoth at the link below. Houghton sums up his findings with a bit of advice for game developers in Activision’s sights:
“If you’re a small to medium-sized games studio, particularly if you’ve ever made a licensed game at any single point in your career, do not sell your company to Activision. And if you are already owned by a publisher, and that publisher is bought out by the House of CoD, keep a very attentive eye out for anything coming your way that even resembles a port. As you would anything that even resembles a parcel bomb.
Oh, and if anyone ever comes near you with the words “James Bond”, “Transformers” or “Spider-Man”, treat them like they have leprosy and start looking for another job immediately. Seriously. It’ll be much less painful that way.”
[Image Source: ArsTechnica]