Activision & Blizzard
What it is? What it isn't? Let's clear the confusion once and for all!
Time and again we come to this problem, people tend to assume things and conspiracies they hear from internet are more true than the actual truth, so I'm writing this post to later use in the future too, to settle those needless debates :b
With that, let's do this with a Frequently-Asked-Questions format.
Here we go:
– Does Activision own Blizzard?
Short Answer: No.
Long Answer: Both Activision and Blizzard Entertainment, and also King Digital Entertainment, Major League Gaming and Activision Blizzard Studios are seperate and independent companies, owned by "Activision Blizzard", an umbrella corporation, whose main goal was to make both Activision and Blizzard more free in publishing and developing games, unbound by the publishers' expectancies. Thanks to the merger, both companies are now their own publishers, unbound from external higher-ups who prioritize profit over quality.
– Does Activision affect Blizzard's game making decisions?
Short Answer: No.
Long Answer: Activision is a seperate Game Development company, who makes their own games, their decisions are about those games, not Blizzard's. Think it like a sports club having a Basketball team and a Football team under the same brand, does Basketball coach make decisions about who should play in the Football team? No? Same thing going on there ^^
– Then, what is Activision's thing with Blizzard?
Short Answer: Activision has no thing with Blizzard, they are basically the same corporation.
Long Answer: The confusion comes from the name of the merger, so let's explain where does it come from and what it is. Directly quoting information perfectly summarizing the corporate situation of these names from
Activision Blizzard is the holding company formed from the merger of Blizzard Entertainment's then-owner Vivendi Games and Activision, the video game producer behind Call of Duty. The merger was finalized on July 9, 2008. Vivendi became the majority shareholder of Activision Blizzard with 54% of the stock.
Almost no changes occurred at Blizzard Entertainment, and it and Activision continue to exist as separate entities under the Activision Blizzard umbrella. The holding company does not publish games under its central name and instead uses its subsidiaries to publish games, similar to how Vivendi Games operated before the merger. Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. remains as Blizzard's brand.
On July 25, 2013, Activision Blizzard announced that it would purchase 429 million shares from Vivendi for $5.8 billion. This purchase was financed with $1.2 billion of cash that was on hand and $4.6 billion of debt proceeds, leaving them with a $1.4 billion of net debt at the end of the deal in September 2013. An investment group that includes Bobby Kotick and Brian Kelly (who put up $100 million together), as well as Tencent and other partners, purchased 172 million shares for $2.3 billion. This group owned 24.9% of the company, and Vivendi retained ownership of 83 million shares (12%) of the company. By January 15, 2016, Vivendi had sold the remainder of its shares.
– So, does Activision Blizzard make all decisions for Blizzard?
Short Answer: No.
Long Answer: Activision Blizzard and its shareholders, or owners, do not give direct orders to subsidiary companies. Especially about gaming decisions.
They supply the production costs and in return, they ask for overall success of the companies under it to continue. But to do that, they don't and can't enforce anything to either of those companies. But they can do things like re-arranging production budgets if certain projects go bad.
Or they can re-arrange work force, for example because of the over-hiring that Blizzard had done in the past, they had excessive amount of workers in not-working or stale areas, mostly in Esports and similar areas, so the shareholders decided to lay off around %20 of the workers from those areas to reduce overall costs so they can direct more resources to make ongoing projects better and faster.
Also, they didn't just fire them, they gave all the heads-up many weeks ago, gave them one of the best severance packages in corporate world and also helped them to find new and better jobs in similar areas.
– I'm confused, so what is Activision Blizzard then?
Short Answer: It's an umbrella corporation owned by Activision and Blizzard.
Long Answer: It's a video game holding company, made up mainly of five operating units, which are:
<directly quoting from their own website>
Develops, distributes, and publishes deeply immersive interactive entertainment for gaming consoles, mobile and tablet platforms, and PCs, including blockbuster franchises like Call of Duty® and Skylanders®.
Develops, distributes and publishes some of the most iconic entertainment experiences in gaming, such as World of Warcraft®, StarCraft®, Diablo®, Hearthstone®, and Heroes of the Storm™, for PCs, mobile and tablet platforms, and consoles.
"King Digital Entertainment"
Creates leading interactive entertainment for the mobile world. With more than 200 fun titles, King's franchises include Candy Crush ®, Farm Heroes®, Pet Rescue®, and Bubble Witch®.
"Major League Gaming"
Builds on Activision Blizzard's competitive gaming leadership by creating all-new ways to deliver best-in-class fan experiences across games, platforms and geographies.
"Activision Blizzard Studios"
Makes original film and television content based on our library of iconic and globally-recognized intellectual properties.
Plus independent studios, including Toys for Bob, Infinity Ward, Sledgehammer Games and Treyarch.
– OK then, but does nothing bad happen with Blizzard related to this umbrella corporation? Did things change? Is Blizzard not the same anymore?
Short Answer: Yes and No.
Long Answer: Blizzard became a much bigger entity way before merger, it was not "a bunch of gamers making games they would play" for a long time. So, of course there are certain downsides of going corporate. But it's the only way to keep this going and to make it work. They can't make the same games anymore, because they are making much bigger games, everything is on the highest possible level for a gaming company for them.
So, to sustain the Blizzard Entertainment company and to be even more independent, they had to combine forces with Activision. Yes they lost their small brand spirit, but they actually became more free and even more potentially open by doing that.
Think it like any business, if you become successful selling apples at your garden, you plant more trees, then you hire people to take care of those trees and you sell them yourself to a more wider area, to do that first you need to work with other distributors and at next level, you will try to create your own distribution methods to get rid of clutches of middle-men, so you can control all the distribution and get more profit in return. In Blizzard's case, they kind of combined forces with another fruit producer to create their own distribution company to make their businesses better and to reach more people.
Same thing happens here, but fruits are games and companies are way more bigger :b
Sure there will be some bad sides of it, but if this didn't happen, the scale of projects, amount of people working on them and a lot of things would remain miniscule and probably we wouldn't see any of the development that happened after 2008.
– OK but, doesn't Activision force Blizzard to sell store mounts and level boosts? Don't they force Blizzard to make levelling harder and mounts harder to obtain so you're forced to pay extra money to get those?
Short Answer: *sigh*
Long Answer: First of all, as I said before, neither Activision, nor Activision Blizzard has decision making power over these matters. Remember the Basketball coach deciding Football line-ups example? Same thing.
Besides, promotions like Store Mounts and In-game services like Level Boosts are all optional "luxury" services. Blizzard never had any "pay-to-win" service in any game and they even severely work to prevent that if it happens from outside sources. So, no, these things don't happen because some greedy higher-up orders Blizzard to do so, these happen as promotions to create interest in game and to create a side option to make the game earn even more profit when it needs to cover development costs easier, so their next product comes better and quicker.
Means, you don't have to buy those services, also by not buying, you're not hurting anything, it's an extra thing and in many cases it's also used for charity too. So, it's a good and a totally optional method of game promotion, decided only by Blizzard itself.
– But I heard this Bobby Kotick guy, who is like an irl Gallywix, greedy boss guy who owns Activision Blizzard and forces people to do stuff!
Short Answer: Yes, he is like Gallywix :>
Long Answer: …But just like how Gallywix can't affect all of the Horde, neither can Kotick.
Who and what is he? He is the CEO and main shareholder of Activision Blizzard, because he's a main investor, he also gets paid with a big amount of profit.
Is it fair? No, not at all. But that's the deal when you can pay 100 million dollars to help create an umbrella corporation that can free two major gaming labels from the clutches of distributors. So, think it like saviour's debt or something in the cruel lands of capitalism.
Also, neither does this guy own these companies, nor he can make gaming development decisions or force them. His CEO powers are only effective over the general functioning of the umbrella corporation. Like "Does it provide necessary funding for its unit companies who actually make games?" or "Does it properly distribute the games made?" and things like that. And he can't dictate anything or make the final executive decisions by himself either, there are other shareholders, board of directors and other mechanics for all those. That's how companies work, you know.
*Also about blaming just this guy, I strongly recommend this video of Bellular to get the right idea about the man himself, what he does and how things really work:
"The Uncomfortable Truth Of The #FireBobbyKotick Movement: It Goes FAR Deeper."
So, I guess with that final question.
Now, if you have bothered to read, in detail you have now learned everything about it.
You can get those tinfoil hats off, accept that we live in a world of capitalism and even gaming companies need to do what they must to survive and keep making games for us, greedy and spoiled consumers who always ask and expect more! 📷
But even faced with that terror, know that these guys try and do their absolute best. Yes, there may be some disagreements, problems, downfalls, bad times, but people who work, especially at Blizzard are best of the best, no exceptions (not even Ion and Lore! :b)
I hope this "small" article helps everyone with this confusing matter from now on ^^
the Explainer 📷
Related Links and Sources:
And in case you need more explanation:
- Activision is permanently banning players with no warning or explanation. No customer support in place for appeals.
- Activision Blizzard mobilizes. What do you think it means for the future of Diablo and all games in general?
- Why I love japanese games.
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