Episode 40: Activision Blizzard

Ben & David cover the creation of the gaming world’s equivalent of the 70’s rock supergroup: the 2008 merger of Blizzard and Activision. We tell the story from the Blizzard perspective, tracing the history of one of the most innovative companies in the business from humble beginnings at the hands of UCLA undergrads, to surviving multiple acquisition rollups (including at one point being owned by the French national water company), to joining ultimately with Activision to form the largest gaming company in the world, all while inventing multiple game genres that define the industry as we know it today.

 

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Topics covered include:

  • Blizzard’s founding in 1991 as "Silicon & Synapse” by recent UCLA grads Allen Adham, Frank Pearce, and Mike Morhaime
  • The team’s first projects making ports for other games, including Battle Chess on the Commodore 64
  • Early success on the Super Nintendo with Rock & Roll Racing and The Lost Vikings
  • Origin of the Real-Time Strategy game genre (“RTS”) and Blizzard’s fist mega-hit, Warcraft 
  • Blizzard’s crazy corporate ownership changes over the years
  • Development of further legendary game franchises like Diablo and Starcraft, along with sequels to Warcraft and the rise of the rise of player modding
  • Emergence of the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena genre (“MOBA”) from the Warcraft III modding community, and its growth into one of the biggest sectors in the games and esports industries today
  • Blizzard’s role in developing the concept of online gaming, from early hacks to play against friends to World of Warcraft and Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (“MMORPG’s”)
  • The 2008 merger with storied gaming company Activision 
  • Growth and success since the merger, including the launch of new game franchises Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm and Overwatch

The Carve Out:

Sponsor:

  • Thanks to Silicon Valley Bank for sponsoring this episode. If you'd like to learn more or start a banking relationship, you can get in touch with Shai Goldman here.