|Vivendi Universal Games (2001–2006)|
|Division of Vivendi|
|Industry||Video game industry|
|Fate||Merged with Activision|
|Successor||Activision Blizzard (Activision)|
2001 (as Vivendi Universal Games) |
2006 (as Vivendi Games)
|Headquarters||Los Angeles, California, United States|
Spyro the Dragon
|Revenue||$1.018 billion USD (2007)|
Number of employees
Vivendi Games, formerly known as Vivendi Universal Games or VU Games, was a wholly owned subsidiary of Vivendi responsible for video game developers inherited after acquiring Havas and Universal Studios.
Headed by Bruce Hack, it was headquartered in Los Angeles, California and employed over 3,400 people at four separate development divisions. Vivendi Games owned the rights to franchises such as Warcraft, StarCraft, Diablo and World of Warcraft (all games developed by Blizzard Entertainment), as well as others like Empire Earth, Ground Control, Tribes, Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon owned by Sierra Entertainment. It later merged with Activision and is now known as Activision Blizzard.
The direct predecessor of Vivendi Games was Universal Interactive, the game publishing division of Universal Studios. Founded in 1993, it was best known for publishing the Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon series, along with games based on Universal properties.
CUC Software was founded in February 1996, when CUC International, a large mail order and subscription company, offered to acquire entertainment software developer Sierra Entertainment. Headquartered in Bellevue, Washington, Sierra published adventure game series such as King's Quest, Gabriel Knight, Space Quest. Sierra was a public company, which employed roughly 1,000 employees at 12 different acquired studios. CUC offered to absorb Sierra's stock shares at a price roughly 90% higher than what Sierra was trading, and on July 24, 1996, Sierra became a wholly owned subsidiary of CUC.
At the same time, CUC also approached Davidson & Associates, a leading publisher and distributor of educational software, with an offer of a similar stock swap. Headquartered in Torrance, California, Davidson published the Math Blaster, Warcraft, and Diablo series. While mainly a game publisher, Davidson also had a major in-house developer in the form of Blizzard Entertainment, which Davidson had acquired in 1994, and employed over 800 employees as of February 1996. Davidson was also a public company, founded and headed by Bob Davidson, who acted as CEO, and also by Jan Davidson, who acted as President.
After acquiring these companies, CUC quickly integrated these two new divisions into the main CUC organization by announcing in September 1996 the creation of CUC Software, a holding company which would consolidate the finance, distribution, manufacturing, accounting, sales, R&D and overall management of CUC's software companies.
Soon after its creation, CUC Software acquired in January 1997 Knowledge Adventure, a leading developer of educational software, which published the JumpStart series of child oriented programs. CUC also acquired Gryphon Software, another educational software company. Davidson & Associates and Gryphon were then absorbed into Knowledge Adventure, and Blizzard Entertainment was made a separate division of CUC Software. In 1997, CUC Software also acquired Berkeley Systems (a California-based developer that published the You Don't Know Jack series) and integrated Berkeley Systems into Sierra On-Line.
CUC then merged with a hotel, real-estate, and car-rental franchiser called HFS Corporation to form Cendant in 1997. In 1998, it became apparent that CUC had engaged in accounting fraud for years before the merger; Cendant's stock lost 80% of its value over the next six months in the ensuing widely discussed accounting scandal. The company sold its consumer software operations, which included Sierra and Blizzard, to French publisher Havas in 1998, the same year Havas was purchased by Vivendi.
Vivendi Universal Games
In June 2000, Vivendi acquired Seagram (owner of Universal Studios) to become Vivendi Universal, and Universal Interactive joined Vivendi's acquired studios under the new division Vivendi Universal Games. In 2004, Vivendi Universal Games sold one of its divisions, Knowledge Adventure to a group of private investors.
When parent company Vivendi Universal dropped the "Universal" in its name in 2006 to simply become Vivendi SA, Vivendi Universal Games followed suit and became Vivendi Games. It ceased to publish under its own name and instead assigned those duties to its divisions. Spyro and Crash Bandicoot were assigned to Sierra Entertainment in this arrangement.
In 2006, Vivendi Games created a new mobile division Vivendi Games Mobile, which was promised to begin publishing and distributing games in 2006 through mobile carriers and portals.
In December 2007, it was announced that Vivendi Games would merge with games publisher Activision, forming Activision Blizzard. In July 2008, the merger went active. Activision Blizzard operated the games division of Vivendi SA, and became an independent company on July 25, 2013 (including Vivendi Games).
Blizzard Entertainment is a development studio best known for creating the series Warcraft (including World of Warcraft), Diablo and StarCraft. World of Warcraft, one of the most popular MMORPG games, has currently over 3.5 million subscribers. Blizzard Entertainment later became independent, as compared to a subsidiary.
Sierra Entertainment creates and publishes software for consoles, handheld gaming devices and personal computers. Sierra Entertainment features a portfolio of titles, including F.E.A.R., Scarface, and Ice Age.
Operating out of Los Angeles, California, Sierra employed over 700 people in development and had four wholly owned studios providing creative talents and development capabilities across multiple gaming genres: High Moon Studios, Radical Entertainment, Swordfish Studios and Massive Entertainment. After the Activision Blizzard merger, Sierra was closed down and both Swordfish Studios and Massive Entertainment were sold off.
Sierra Online’s titles include Assault Heroes and FreeStyle Street Basketball, an online PC game from Korean developer JC Entertainment, Inc.
The division is also developing a variety of other Xbox Live Arcade and PC online games targeting the mass market.
Vivendi Games Mobile
Vivendi Games Mobile, a newly formed division, creates and publishes games for the worldwide mobile market. The division publishes games based on original intellectual property, popular entertainment licenses and classic Sierra Entertainment intellectual property games which are distributed by more than 90 operators and dozens of Web portals in more than 60 countries.
Vivendi Games Mobile has launched a number of award-winning titles, including SWAT Force which was named “Best Wireless Game of the Year” by Spike TV in December 2006.
Vivendi Games Mobile ceased operations in early 2009.
In March 2003, Fox Interactive was acquired by Vivendi Universal Games and closed down in 2006.
- "Vivendi Universal Publishing Names Kenneth D. Cron CEO of Games Division". www.prnewswire.com. Retrieved 2016-03-10.
- "VIVENDI AND ACTIVISION TO CREATE ACTIVISION BLIZZARD – World's Largest, Most Profitable Pure-Play Video Game Publisher" (Press release). Activision, Vivendi. 2007-12-02. Retrieved 2007-12-02.
- "WoW Down to 5.6 Million Subscribers". MMO-Champion. 2015-08-04. Retrieved 2015-08-06.
- Seppala, Timothy J. (October 13, 2013). "Activision Blizzard completes buyback from Vivendi Universal in multi-billion dollar deal". endgadget. Retrieved 2015-08-29.