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Fallout From the Activision and Vivendi Merger

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the metaphorical-fallout,-and-not-the-game-either dept.

Businesses 51

SlappingOysters writes "Despite being announced last year, the merger of Activision and Vivendi into the company Activision-Blizzard only became official recently. Gameplayer investigates how the merger has affected upcoming games and development studios between the companies. As part of that investigation, they received official word that only three Vivendi games made the cut, and in this article they detail which titles have been dropped, which studios have been dropped, and who is likely to snap them up and add them to their portfolio. A lot of big names have been affected."

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Yes... (4, Insightful)

The Living Fractal (162153) | more than 4 years ago | (#25184599)

This was expected. It's a common concept in resource application. It applies in all sorts of things, ranging from development to things like battle and war. It's called "focus fire" by some.

They are simply focusing their resources on the most important (they think) projects in order to release the best possible ones they can and maximize their business potential.

Fallout? Is that the right word? I guess... Unless you see it like I do: We're going to get a few really good products instead of a bunch of just ok products. I'll take the former every time.

Re:Yes... (3, Funny)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#25184729)

Fallout is a REALLY bad word to use in a news headline (especially one with the text hidden on main /. page) for people waiting for release of Fallout3...

Re:Yes... (0)

crossmr (957846) | more than 5 years ago | (#25189787)

I'm not waiting. I fully expect Bethesda to let everyone down. I might be surprised, but after the shiny borefest of Oblivion I'm not holding out hope.

Re:Yes... (1)

rtechie (244489) | more than 5 years ago | (#25199429)

Just out of curiosity, if you considered Oblivion "bad" what do you consider to be a "good" RPG released in the last 3 years and what makes it better than Oblivion?

Re:Yes... (1)

crossmr (957846) | more than 5 years ago | (#25201189)

Why limit it to the last 3 years? Simply saying that makes it obvious that you're aware the gameplay sucked and it was nothing more than shiny mediocrity.

Re:Yes... (1)

rtechie (244489) | more than 5 years ago | (#25210363)

To evaluate your sincerity. Oblivion was widely-praised by most everyone, with the notable exception of some Japanese style console RPG fans, in particular those who favored old SNES rpgs like Final Fantasy VI. Much the same was true of Morrowind. You also attacked the graphics as "shiny", implying to me that you haven't favored many modern RPGs. By not mentioning a modern RPG you're confirming my suspicion that you're mainly influenced by nostalgia, not valid critique.

Personally, I think the 'open world' aspects of Oblivion were ALONE enough to make it the RPG of the year. I never finished the main quest, I just ran around collecting crap and going on sidequests. There were annoying aspects to the gameplay, the scaling enemies tended to make the game more difficult than it should have been (especially for me) because I leveled up so much with sidequests, but didn't get any money, that by the time I went back to the main quest I kept getting slaughtered. And I think fighting with melee weapons was a little awkward.

And graphics matter. They're called VIDEO games.

Re:Yes... (1)

crossmr (957846) | more than 5 years ago | (#25210723)

you make a lot of assumptions. None of them remotely right. Oblivion wasn't that widely praised among many of the forums, including their own. Reviewers are fairly meaningless as that Kane and Lynch bit with gamespot showed us. However people constantly derided its gameplay choices (auto-leveling of enemies being the chief one). I called the graphics shiny because they took the time to focus on graphics rather than good gameplay. It is called a video GAME remember? Not a movie or TV show. An open world isn't that special if its a boring place.

As for recent games I've had more fun playing and played more than Oblivion. Temple of Elemental Evil is an extremely accurate interpretation of the D&D rules for a modern Video game. The critics were a little hard on it, but fan mods restored all the content Atari forced Troika to rip out at the last minute (some areas, quests, children, etc), really improving the game. The graphics were also quite nice.

Two worlds, while a mess in the beginning was patched many times to fix it. I only first played it after their 1.6 patch which fixed all the major issues. I played it through twice which is more than I can say for oblivion (I finished it once) and it is an open world as well. The graphics are not quite 'oblivion bloom' but they're very nice (the people look a heck of a lot better) and the gameplay is also nice. It features real horse combat, and an interesting inventory system. Melee combat seemed better than Oblivion. Quests were interesting, though the voice acting was pretty terrible. The second time through I could skip most of it as I already knew what they were going to say.

I'm not much of a fan of JRPGs, I've only played a couple I liked. FF7 and Phantasy Star IV. The rest never did anything for me. Don't confuse nostalgia with wanting to play games that aren't boring with bad controls and bad gameplay choices.

Re:Yes... (1)

Bieeanda (961632) | more than 4 years ago | (#25184737)

Many people would debate the 'really good' status of a new Crash Bandicoot title.

Re:Yes... (1)

The Living Fractal (162153) | more than 4 years ago | (#25185849)

You must be talking about the Crash Bandicoot series of video games that sell very well...

I guess a lot of people might debate the 'really good' status of a game that hasn't been released yet... But I think there's a word for those kind of people ;p

Re:Yes... (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 4 years ago | (#25186521)

Do they really still sell? The series seems more like an also-ran these days, a desperate grasp for its glory days that ended along with the PSX era. Same goes for the Spyro games. Another mascot platformer in the long list of has-beens. Weren't these series done by a different team back in the day anyway?

Re:Yes... (1)

SL Baur (19540) | more than 4 years ago | (#25184945)

Yes, but will this have any affect on the release of Wrath of the Lich King? Inquiring minds want to know!

Re:Yes... (2, Interesting)

The Living Fractal (162153) | more than 4 years ago | (#25185861)

I seriously doubt the November release is in danger. I'm wondering more about Diablo 3's release.

Re:Yes... (1)

SL Baur (19540) | more than 4 years ago | (#25188151)

Hmmm. After reading the Diablo III FAQ I see that they will support systems I want to play games on (Mac OSX has a bit too many proprietary things for me to be totally comfortable with it, but hey, it's still Unix inside). I guess I will buy a copy on general principles. Thanks for the tip.

Re:Yes... (5, Insightful)

Ren.Tamek (898017) | more than 4 years ago | (#25186625)

No, that's not how it goes. The titles Activision-Blizzard chose to keep for release were the safe bets - Spyro and Crash Bandicoot. Not great games by any accounts, but playable family entertainment. Games they're dropping include World in Conflict (critical gem) and Brutal Legend (developed by the Psychonauts team). The entire dev teams behind these titles now have no funding and an uncertain future.

Fallout is the right word, because what we're going to get is a few cash cows instead of a bunch of products of varying quality, including niche masterpeices.

Now I can see why A-B want to have few titles which sell in big numbers, but if every company did exactly the same thing our industry would collapse overnight under the weight of it's own mediocrity.

Re:Yes... (1)

Nossie (753694) | more than 4 years ago | (#25187341)

"but if every company did exactly the same thing our industry would collapse overnight under the weight of it's own mediocrity."

the sad reality is that it already has at least twice.

the NES brought them out the last hole... who will bring them out the next?

Atari was one of the biggest culprits the last time where are they now?

Re:Yes... (1)

Walpurgiss (723989) | more than 4 years ago | (#25188537)

Doh. I put down $5 on Brutal Legend at Gamestop the same time I reserved my Rock Band bundle last year. They better give me a refund if development ceases because of this.

I was really looking forward to that game, not so much for quality, but just for a bit of fun in a ridiculous mashup of heavy metal and fighting.

Holy 1MB background image Batman (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25184741)

And text spanning 4 pages, which could very well be put on 1 page.

Awful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25184805)

Awful piece, offering no knowledge whatsoever. Why was it slashdotted? I'll leave industry analysis to the experts, thanks.

Only ones worth mentioning... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25184817)

... are Brutal Legend and the Caesar series, IMO.

Re:Only ones worth mentioning... (1)

Maserati (8679) | more than 5 years ago | (#25213909)

Red Baron

Is ANY company better after a merger? (3, Interesting)

JonTurner (178845) | more than 4 years ago | (#25184823)

Serious question: can you name any company that was better after a merger? I can't think of a single example! (And when I say "better" I mean better from the customer's or employee's point of view not just a short-term-stockholder's view.)

Re:Is ANY company better after a merger? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25185089)

Serious question: can you name any company that was better after a merger?

From the customer's standpoint?
Netscape. It died and the corporate culture that produced the bloated hog of a browser/editor/e-mail/newsgroup/kitchen sink died with it. What the customer sees is the final product, which became Mozilla, which became Firefox. Firefox is arguably better than the direction Netscape would have continued taking: it is far better at implementing standards, it is open-source, it releases on a competitive schedule...

I could joke about AOL being better after the merger -- better being defined as no longer existing -- but I think the Netscape example works.

Companies don't merge to benefit customers. (3, Interesting)

EWAdams (953502) | more than 4 years ago | (#25185109)

Or employees. Customers are just people they sell their products to; employees are people they hire when they need labor. The definition of "better" doesn't include them. Better, in business terms, means more valuable and more profitable.

Electronic Arts was definitely better after it bought Tiburon. Tiburon was a truly excellent development studio, working closely with EA, and it was in both their interests for EA to buy them.

Re:Companies don't merge to benefit customers. (1)

k-macjapan (1271084) | more than 5 years ago | (#25191239)

With the exception that EA has ruined what was a great game in Madden... Although its better after the second update Madden 2009 should not have been released.

Re:Companies don't merge to benefit customers. (1)

paudle (781865) | more than 5 years ago | (#25193547)

What is/was wrong with Madden 2009?

Re:Companies don't merge to benefit customers. (1)

k-macjapan (1271084) | more than 5 years ago | (#25200873)

Basically the game will freeze at random points when playing. This requires you to hard reboot the PS3, which from reports has bricked a number of peoples PS3's. It appears to happen far more frequently when playing in franchise mode. Basically you can play one game then you need to reboot your PS3 or the game will crash. Aside from this there are major issues with the statistic tracking for players and graphic glitches galore.

I downloaded the second patch for the game which seems to have addressed all these issues with the exception of statistics.

The lead developer of the game basically said that if people complain about this years version of the game they have less time to work on next years version. What I think he fails to realize is that if they released a functional game in the first place this wouldn't be an issue.

Re:Companies don't merge to benefit customers. (1)

paudle (781865) | more than 5 years ago | (#25201137)

Thanks for the reply. I have it on PS3 and haven't seen any issues though I haven't gotten deep into franchise mode, so hopefully I won't see those issues with the patch.

Re:Is ANY company better after a merger? (1)

eison (56778) | more than 4 years ago | (#25185189)

In my opinion, AT&T Wireless got a lot better when Cingular bought them.

Re:Is ANY company better after a merger? (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 4 years ago | (#25187629)

That wasn't a merger. That was AT&T selling off a division. Which was bound be better off under its new owners, since pre-SBC AT&T had the worst management in the history of capitalism.

Re:Is ANY company better after a merger? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25186213)

Serious question: can you name any company that was better after a merger?

I dunno. I'm curious about the term merger. That sounds as if they joined together in a mutual partnership. I don't think Vivendi does that sort of thing.

To me reading that a company was involved in a merger with Vivendi is like reading that "a gazelle was involved in a merger with a lion" or "a hobo on the tracks was involved in a merger with the train."

Re:Is ANY company better after a merger? (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 4 years ago | (#25186539)

Square-Enix, maybe?

Re:Is ANY company better after a merger? (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 4 years ago | (#25188159)

Serious question: can you name any company that was better after a merger?
.

Pixar.

Independent studios have always found it a struggle to survive.

Pixar hasn't had a commercial failure. But you can burn through $200 million dollars in production costs alone for a feature like WALL-E.

That can bring you down very fast if you have a string of failures - and not much in the way of alternative revenue streams.

Re:Is ANY company better after a merger? (1)

m0llusk (789903) | more than 5 years ago | (#25192785)

Apple returned from near death after absorbing NeXT, though that does appear to be an extreme outlier at pretty much every possible level.

Re:Is ANY company better after a merger? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25195247)

Jaguar.

Everyone knew if you got one in the 80's 90's that you had to buy 2 to keep one in the shop and in the garage. After Ford took them over they had at least some resemblence to quality control. Their styling suffered and quality of materials but at least the cars didnt break down every 3000miles.

SCO ! (1)

freaker_TuC (7632) | more than 5 years ago | (#25196431)

Oh, bother, they didn't merge but they still got the same result ...

Fallout (1, Redundant)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#25184881)

I thought Fallout 3 was coming from Bethesda, not Activision-Vivendi. ;)

Re:Fallout (1)

Eudial (590661) | more than 4 years ago | (#25186525)

Actually Fallout (not Fallout 3) is from Black Isle.

Got me worried... (2, Funny)

jddj (1085169) | more than 4 years ago | (#25185041)

Will I still be able to get cartridges for my 2600?

Re:Got me worried... (1)

Nossie (753694) | more than 4 years ago | (#25187383)

you'll get all the asteroid clones you ever wanted...

I'm going to guess you're referring to what happened the last time... did anyone EVER buy E.T?

Re:Got me worried... (1)

Pranadevil2k (687232) | more than 5 years ago | (#25190999)

I fondly remember playing E.T. in my youth. And not understanding a damn second of it, either!

Merger (1)

Slithe (894946) | more than 4 years ago | (#25185075)

Merger never changes.

Sierra (2, Interesting)

Dripdry (1062282) | more than 4 years ago | (#25185099)

As someone who basically grew up on Sierra adventure games (King's Quest was ythe first adventure game I ever played, on the IBM PC Jr, with IR Keyboard!) I have to wonder what in the world their problem is.

King's Quest? Space Quest? The adventure games haven't gotten a lot of play the last ten years, but now that we see Sam & Max coming back, and episodic content online, how hard would it be to create a 3rd person Quest for Glory action/adventure RPG? Count me as first in line to get that one!

Phantasmagoria? Gabriel Knight? Those two *at least* could be crafted into horror/action games. Not that they should.

I really hope these games dont' get buried under legal BS as so many important titles have in the past. There's a lot of marketing potential there, and if it's done the right way it could make whoever has the rights a nice little pile of cash, and maybe a new following.

Re:Sierra (3, Informative)

Dutch Gun (899105) | more than 4 years ago | (#25186451)

As someone who basically grew up on Sierra adventure games

As did I - Sierra games were among my first PC gaming experiences.

I have to wonder what in the world their problem is.

Well, from someone in the gaming industry, I can tell you what happened from my perspective. It's the same reason many companies go to hell - horrible management. For the past decade or so (a few years after Sierra was sold to CUC International), it's been pretty well known in the industry to stay far, far away from Sierra. I had heard many stories from a fellow programmer who had escaped - he had worked there for a number of years before being let go in one of their many "reorganizations".

Essentially, they were borderline abusive to their employees... long hours, low pay, little respect, and constant lies. People were developing chronic health problems from the stress, etc... If anyone complained too much, they were simply replaced by new developers fresh out of college - who would tend to put up with much worse than seasoned developers. Basically, it epitomized the worst of the game development industry from a few years ago (it's not like that so much anymore).

The result was obvious and predictable. Sierra's ability to create and release a decent product dwindled along with it's company morale, and the best and brightest employees were slowly bled off. Eventually, internal product development was canceled, and they became a publisher only. However, bad management screws up all things over time, and this was no exception. Sierra eventually reorganized pretty much out of existence, and the doors of their Bellevue, Washington offices closed in 2004. At this point, they're essentially just a division in name only of whoever owns them.

I really hope these games don't get buried under legal BS as so many important titles have in the past. There's a lot of marketing potential there, and if it's done the right way it could make whoever has the rights a nice little pile of cash, and maybe a new following.

I'd love to see this happen. My bet is that Activision will be too greedy to sell the rights at a price anyone could afford, but too indecisive to make any use of them, and they'll lie unused in perpetuity. It's what happens with a lot of great properties.

I suppose I could be wrong, but I'm really not holding my breath.

Vibrant in-text ads (2, Interesting)

argent (18001) | more than 4 years ago | (#25185305)

Yet another website that uses in-frame popups when you just mouse over a word, and refuses to disable them.

This kind of annoyvertising reminds me of X10.com's popups, and shouldn't be tolerated.

Re:Vibrant in-text ads (2, Funny)

SupremoMan (912191) | more than 5 years ago | (#25191341)

It's not a problem at slashdot. We don't read the articles anyway. It's your own fault for following the link and wishing to be informed!

Perhaps... (1)

jeremiahstanley (473105) | more than 4 years ago | (#25185787)

Perhaps they'll lower the price on the old Sierra titles to a company sized more like the one that did the Penny Arcade title. That game rocked and was totally worth the $19 I spent on it. If they used that format and had an update to the Gold Rush! title I'd buy it in a heartbeat (I'm a history major, so I have odd tastes).

Episodic content in that manner is really interesting. The art style was familiar from two known artists. And the 'steampunk' styling was fresh and original for what was essentially a spoof. Space Quest would be a riot in that format.

Ghostbuster Canceled? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25186613)

They Shit-canned The Ghostbusters game? I thought it was pushed back, not canceled.

Re:Ghostbuster Canceled? (1)

Kelson (129150) | more than 4 years ago | (#25186667)

This surprises me, considering how heavily they were promoting the game at San Diego Comic-Con this past July.

No mention of Radical (1)

LordZardoz (155141) | more than 5 years ago | (#25190197)

Radical entertainment is a studio owned by Universal / Vivendi that passed to Blizzard. They are still in business, but they laid off about 100 people in Vancouver.

I know this because it has made my own job hunting a pain in the ass.

END COMMUNICATION

English Majors, Stand Back! (1)

TrekkieTechie (1265532) | more than 5 years ago | (#25190653)

This article appears to have been written by a high-school freshman. An freshman who likes to skip class to smoke whatever he can get his hands on out back.

I know this is just, y'know, the Internet, but for Christ's sake, doesn't anyone proofread any more?

Please, Jebus, make it stop! (1)

Nalgas D. Lemur (105785) | more than 5 years ago | (#25194965)

Is there some good reason /. keeps linking to stories on Gameplayer lately? People complain on every single one of them about the articles being split over several dozen pages, with a paragraph or two of text on each, but this one is a new low. It reads like it was written by a twelve year old. "Sly" it under the table? Last time I checked, they speak English in Australia, but I guess the writers for this site (and editors, if they even have any) didn't get the memo...
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