Activision was originally founded on October 1, 1979 and became the first independent developer and distributor of video games with its first games developed for the Atari 2600. Activision was founded by former music industry executive Jim Levy along with former Atari programmers David Crane, Larry Kaplan, Alan Miller, and Bob Whitehead. Activision's first game release came in the form of Dragster in 1980, with their first big hit being Pitfall! in 1982. Pitfall! quickly became one of best selling Atari 2600 games ever selling over 4 million copies.
On June 13, 1986, Activision merged with Infocom due to Jim Levy being a big fan of the company and did not want to see them fall. Six months later, Bruce Davis, who was heavily against the merger, became CEO of Activision. In 1989, the Infocom studios were finally closed by Activision putting 21 out of 26 employees out of business.
In 1988, Activision moved on to produce more software outside of the video game industry and changed its corporate name to Mediagenic. Activision continued to develop video games, however, for many platforms including the NES, Sega Master System, Atari 7800, Atari ST, Commodore 64, and Amiga.
In the following years, Mediagenic had multiple financial issues including patent infringement suits and eventually was taken over by Robert Kotick, an investor group lead. The company eventually filed for Chapter 11 reorganization and merged with The Disc Company. Mediagenic started to rise out of bankruptcy, made some strategic acquisitions, and changed its name back to Activision in December 1992. Activision also moved its headquarters from Mountain View in the Silicon Valley to Santa Monica, CA deciding as well to produce only video games from that point on.
In 1991, Activision released The Lost Treasures of Infocom which was a package of 20 Infocom games on one disc. A year later, Activision released another 11 games in The Lost Treasures of Infocom II.
Acquisitions & Partnerships
- Partnership with Raven Software.
- Acquired CentreSoft, Ltd.
- Acquired NBG Distribution.
- Founded Pandemic Studios.
- Partnership with Marvel Entertainment.
- Partnership with Head Game Publishing.
- Partnership with Disney Interactive.
- Partnership with LucasArts Entertainment.
- Partnership with CD Contact Data.
- Acquired Neversoft.
- Acquired Expert Software.
- Acquired Gray Matter Interactive.
- Acquired Z-Axis, Ltd.
- Acquired Luxoflux Corporation.
- Partnership with DreamWorks SKG.
- Partnership with Valve.
- Partnership with Shaba Games, LLC.
- Partnership with Sega.
- Acquired Infinity Ward.
- Acquired Vicarious Visions.
- Acquired Toys For Bob.
- Acquired Beenox.
- Partnership with MGM Interactive.
- Acquired Bizarre Creations.
- Acquired Demonware.
- Giant merger with Vivendi to become Activision Blizzard.
- 10 Year Partnership with Bungie.
Activision has been criticized for forcing developers to release games in popular franchises on a yearly basis. Examples include the Call Of Duty franchise, Guitar Hero franchise, and Tony Hawk franchise. Due to the limited time frame, developers often cannot alter the gameplay or other features significantly, thus releasing a game every year that is usually pretty similar to the one that came before it.
In a recent interview with Game Informer, the studio head of Treyarch was asked what game he would like to develop next. He responded by saying that he isn't the one to make that decision, showing that even the heads of studios under Activision cannot escape the company's grasp.