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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Vivendi Games
  • CUC Software
  • (1996–1997)
  • Cendant Software
  • (1997–1998)
  • Havas Interactive
  • (1998–2001)
  • Vivendi Universal Interactive Publishing
  • (2001)
  • Vivendi Universal Games
  • (2001–2006)
IndustryVideo game industry
FateMerged with Activision
SuccessorActivision Blizzard
Founded24 July 1996; 22 years ago (1996-07-24) in Torrance, California
Defunct10 July 2008 (2008-07-10)
Area served
North America, Europe
Key people
Bruce Hack (CEO)

Vivendi Games was an American video game publisher and holding company based in Los Angeles. It was founded in 1996 as CUC Software, the publishing subsidiary of CUC International, after the latter acquired video game companies Davidson & Associates and Sierra On-Line. Between 1997 and 2001, the company switched parents and names multiple times before ending up organized under Vivendi Universal (later renamed Vivendi). In July 2008, Vivendi Games merged with Activision to create Activision Blizzard.

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  • ✪ How Blizzard Conquered the Gaming World


In 2016, the users of Blizzard Entertainment spent almost 5 million years playing their games. As the developers of some of the most popular video game franchises in history, it should be no surprise that they have been extremely successful. That’s why, in this week’s episode we’ll be exploring the history of Blizzard Entertainment. This video is brought to you by Skillshare, the best platform for learning any skill online. The first 500 people to sign up with the link below will get a 2 month free trial. Established in California in 1991, Silicon & Synapse was the first incarnation of Blizzard. It was created by three friends: Allen Adham, Michael Morhaime, and Frank Pearce, who got their early business by working as developers on third party games for a variety of systems, from the Sega Genesis and the Super Nintendo to the Mac and PC. They would take games that already existed and would adapt them for other systems, a process that’s known as porting. After getting to work on original titles like Rock n Roll Racing and The Lost Vikings, they were bought in early 1994 by an educational software company called Davidson & Associates. They ditched the name Silicon & Synapse, initially for Chaos Studios and finally Blizzard Entertainment. Shortly thereafter, they released Warcraft: Orcs & Humans in November 1994. It was a sensation, because it tapped into the growing appeal of strategy games and the enduring popularity of the tabletop game Dungeons and Dragons, which itself falls back to earlier fantasy works like Tolkien’s The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. But while Blizzard was riding this newfound wave of popularity, the company itself became involved in some kind of corporate takeover or sale practically every year. Here’s a brief timeline of what happened: Davidson & Associates and another company, Sierra Online, were bought by CUC International, an early e-commerce company, in 1996. CUC merged with a hotel, real estate and car rental franchise called HFS Corporation , to form Cendant in 1997. The next year, it turned out that CUC had committed serious accounting fraud over the years, which became a pretty big scandal. Cendant stock obviously crashed so they sold their software operation, Sierra Online, which now contained Blizzard, all to a French advertising and PR company called Havas. Havas were then bought by a bigger French media company called Vivendi, all in 1998. Somewhat surprisingly, all of these corporate acquisitions didn’t have much of an impact on the day to day operations of Blizzard, even though they did lose some good people along the way. Nevertheless in 1995 they released a sequel to the original Warcraft game, which attracted an even bigger following that put Blizzard firmly at the top of the RTS genre. They also acquired a company on their own; a developer called Condor Games who had been working with them on an upcoming title: Diablo, which was the beginning of Blizzard’s second major franchise. One of the big contributors to the success of Warcraft 2 and Diablo was Blizzard’s decision to invest in building an online platform called Online multiplayer had mostly been a very small niche at that point because you really needed some level of technical competence to be able to set it up correctly. What’s more, you often had to rent server space from CompuServe or America Online and this could cost as much as $30 an hour. Some fans of the first Warcraft had battled online, but we’re talking about the most hardcore fans, not your average player. Blizzard realized how much potential there was for online multiplayer in the RTS genre, so they shifted the established model towards users paying a fixed fee for unlimited gameplay within a certain period, like a week or a month. So in 1998, when Blizzard released Starcraft with full integration with, the platform’s users grew by over 800% that year. The game outshined anything they’d ever done so far and is now considered the holy grail of RTS gaming. Even today, two decades and 10 million copies later, the game still has an active esports scene and a fervent playerbase who are refusing to let it die. So it’s an understatement to say that Blizzard chose to invest their time wisely. Instead of rushing to release new franchises, they continued developing their existing properties and to reap the benefits of the boom in online gaming. Warcraft 3 and Diablo 2 were huge market victories, with Diablo 2 breaking the world record for fastest selling game at the time, selling a million copies in 2 weeks. Warcraft 3 presented a new level of depth to storytelling at Blizzard, a trait which they’ve continued to improve over the years. The game’s ultimate legacy, of course, is the creation of the MOBA genre. Today, Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas are the most popular games in the world, but it all started from an innocent mod of Warcraft 3. Despite all of that, however, even Blizzard were not prepared for the enormous success of World of Warcraft. Released in 2004, WoW became the best-selling PC game of 2005 and 2006. The game redefined the MMORPG genre and combined it with the rich history it had built up from the previous Warcraft games. By the start of 2008 WoW had 10 million users, over half being from Asia. Unlike Blizzard’s previous titles though, WoW was a massive cash cow because players had to pay a monthly subscription in addition to buying the game itself. Subscription prices varied considerably, from the equivalent of $5 per month in China to $15 in the US. Speaking of Asia, MMORPGs like WoW became a true cultural phenomenon there, particularly China and South Korea. Now, if you consider the lowest possible price level of $5 a month and the fact that WoW has never had less than 5 million monthly users, you’ll see that for any month WoW has brought in a minimum of $25 million of revenue. And keep in mind that it’s been running for over a decade, with new expansions keeping the game alive way past its initial expectations. In 2008, Blizzard’s parent company, Vivendi, merged with Activision to create the current company, Activision Blizzard. Together they also run hugely successful titles like Call of Duty and Candy Crush, which they acquired by purchasing King Digital Entertainment for $5.9 billion in 2015. The very next year, Activision Blizzard posted revenues of $6.6 billion and over half of that was from in-game purchases. Players buy pets in WoW, supply drops in Call of Duty, extra lives in Candy Crush, and loot boxes in Overwatch. And yes, this conveniently brings us to Blizzard’s latest major endeavor, Overwatch. It launched in May 2016 and by the first quarter of 2017, it had already brought in a billion dollars in revenue. A big chunk of the audience comes from what Koreans call PC Bangs, which are essentially gaming centers where people pay per hour to play games. Groups of friends, and by that I mean mostly young guys, go to these places to play games liked Overwatch and League of Legends for hours at a time. The South Korean government became so concerned about gaming addiction that they enacted laws to prevent kids under 16 from playing excessively. Blizzard’s original founders, by the way, are all still there. Allen Adham went off into the world of hedge funds for a while, but now he’s back and his return actually shows just how far Blizzard has come. When Adham left in 2004, Blizzard had 400 employees who were either working either on World of Warcraft or on Starcraft 2. But when he came back in 2016, there were ten times as many employees working on a wide range of projects, as well as a production arm to expand on the somewhat disappointing Warcraft movie and to potentially create a Call of Duty TV series. As of late Blizzard has also been making successful entries into other video game genres, like the Hearthstone online card game and the Heroes of the Storm MOBA. Just last year, Blizzard’s revenue alone was $2.4 billion so it’s safe to say that they have many years of game making ahead of them. Now, if being a videogame developer sounds appealing to you, I think you’re going to love Skillshare. It’s an online learning platform with thousands of courses that can help you master all the various aspects of game development: from coding and animation to writing and level design. For as little as $10 a month you’ll gain access to Skillshare’s full library of courses, which are easy to follow even if you’re a complete beginner. To help you learn the ins and outs of game development, I’m giving a 2 month free trial to the first 500 of you to use the link in the description. By giving Skillshare a try you’ll also be helping to support Business Casual. So thank you for watching and a huge thanks to our awesome patrons on Patreon for supporting us. Make sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Reddit, and as always: stay smart.



On February 21, 1996, CUC International announced its intention to acquire Davidson & Associates (including Blizzard Entertainment) and Sierra On-Line, two American video game companies, in a US$1.8 billion stock swap.[1] The deal closed on July 24, 1996.[2] CUC International previously only operated membership shopping clubs, wherefore analysts were surprised by the company's move into the software industry.[1] Subsequently following the acquisitions, CUC International established CUC Software around the Torrance, California-based operations of Davidson & Associates to oversee the new video game properties.[3] Under that new umbrella, both Davidson & Associates and Sierra On-Line would act independently from CUC International.[4] Bod Davidson, co-founder of Davidson & Associates, became chairman and chief executive of the new establishment.[5] On November 5 that year, CUC International announced that they would additionally acquire Knowledge Adventure, another developer, in a stock deal valued between $50 million and US$100 million.[5] The acquisition was completed on February 3, 1997.[3] On February 10, Davidson announced that he had stepped down from his positions at CUC Software, and that his wife, Jan, ceased as president of Davidson & Associates, while both Davidsons stayed on CUC International's board of directors.[3] Christopher McLeod, an executive vice-president for CUC International, took over CUC Software in Bob Davidson's place.[3] In April 1997, CUC International acquired Berkeley Systems for an undisclosed sum.[6]

On May 28, 1997, CUC International announced plans to merge with Hospitality Franchise Systems to create a single, "one-stop" entity.[7][8] The merger was finalized in December that year and created Cendant.[9] As a result of the merger, CUC Software was renamed Cendant Software.[10] On November 20, 1998, French media company Havas announced that it would acquire Cendant Software for $800 million in cash and up to $200 million contingent on the performance of Cendant Software.[11][12] Subsequently, the division was renamed Havas Interactive.[13] On May 16, 2001, Havas Interactive was renamed Vivendi Universal Interactive Publishing, while its direct parent, Havas, became Vivendi Universal Publishing.[14] Under the new name, the company was split into to parts: Vivendi Universal Interactive Publishing North America and Vivendi Universal Interactive Publishing International, both of which took responsibility for their respective publishing regions.[14] On November 13, 2001, both parts were streamlined under the name Vivendi Universal Games.[15] When Vivendi Universal sold all of its media operations to General Electric in October 2003, Vivendi Universal held on to Vivendi Universal Games, which was re-organized as a direct division of the conglomerate.[16] On March 3, 2006, Vivendi Universal announced they would be dropping the "Universal" part of their name[17] The same day, the company opened a mobile games division known as Vivendi Universal Games Mobile.[18]

In December 2007, American publisher Activision announced a proposed merger deal with Vivendi Games that would create a new holding company named Activision Blizzard.[19][20] The deal was approved by Activision's shareholders on July 8, 2008,[20] and the merger was finalized on July 10, creating Activision Blizzard while dissolving Vivendi Games.[21] Bruce Hack, who served as chief executive officer of Vivendi Games, became vice-chairman and chief corporate officer of the new company.[21] Many of Vivendi Games' properties were later dropped by Activision, citing that they would not make for a good fit for the company's long-term strategy.[22]



  • Coktel Vision; acquired by Sierra On-Line in May 1994,[23] sold to Mindscape in October 2005.[24]
  • Sierra Entertainment; acquired in July 1996.[1]
    • Sierra Online
      • Sierra Online Seattle; acquired in September 2006.[25]
      • Sierra Online Shanghai; acquired in September 2006.[25]
  • Vivendi Games Mobile; established in March 2006.[18]
    • Centerscore; acquired in September 2006.[26][27]
  • Universal Interactive, absorbed through the Vivendi–Universal merger in June 2000.[28][29]
  • NDA Productions[30]
  • Black Label Games, established in August 2002.[31][32]
  • Fox Interactive; acquired in March 2003.[33]



  1. ^ a b c d Lewis, Peter H. "CUC Will Buy 2 Software Companies for $1.8 Billion". Retrieved July 20, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d e KAPLAN, KAREN (February 10, 1997). "Davidson Founders Make Quiet Exit". Retrieved July 20, 2018 – via LA Times.
  4. ^ HELM, LESLIE (February 21, 1996). "Marketer CUC to Buy Davidson & Associates". Retrieved July 20, 2018 – via LA Times.
  5. ^ a b KAPLAN, KAREN (November 6, 1996). "CUC Will Buy Knowledge Adventure". Retrieved July 20, 2018 – via LA Times.
  6. ^ a b "CUC Buys Content Maker Berkeley Systems". Retrieved July 20, 2018.
  7. ^ Bagli, Charles V. "$11 Billion Merger Plan Would Join HFS and CUC". Retrieved July 20, 2018.
  8. ^ Press, From Associated (May 28, 1997). "CUC-HFS Merger Deal to Create Strong One-Stop-Shopping Entity". Retrieved July 20, 2018 – via LA Times.
  9. ^ Jebens, Harley (April 28, 2000). "CUC Gets Renamed". Retrieved July 20, 2018.
  10. ^ "CUC Now Cendant". Game Developer. UBM TechWeb. March 1998. p. 13.
  11. ^ Hansell, Saul. "Cendant Said to Near Sale of Software Division". Retrieved July 20, 2018.
  12. ^ "Cendant Sells Software Unit". Retrieved July 20, 2018.
  13. ^ "Vivendi's High Wireless Act". Retrieved July 20, 2018.
  14. ^ a b "Havas Interactive Changes Name To Vivendi". Retrieved July 20, 2018.
  15. ^ Graser, Marc (November 15, 2001). "Viv U streamlines games". Retrieved July 20, 2018.
  16. ^ "General Electric buys Vivendi media empire". Retrieved July 21, 2018.
  17. ^ "Vivendi Universal to shorten company name". Retrieved July 20, 2018.
  18. ^ a b Maragos, Nich. "Gamasutra - The Art & Business of Making Games". Retrieved July 21, 2018.
  19. ^ Rosmarin, Rachel. "Vivendi To Merge With Activision". Retrieved July 20, 2018.
  20. ^ a b Alexander, Leigh. "Activision Blizzard Merger Official". Retrieved July 20, 2018.
  21. ^ a b Alexander, Leigh. "Activision Blizzard Merger Finalized". Retrieved July 20, 2018.
  22. ^ Pattison, Narayan (29 July 2008). "Activision Drops Several Vivendi Games". IGN.
  23. ^ "L'américain Sierra-On-Line absorbe Coktel Vision - Les Echos". Retrieved July 22, 2018.
  24. ^ "VU Games cède Coktel à Mindscape". October 21, 2005. Retrieved July 22, 2018.
  25. ^ a b Boyer, Brandon. "Vivendi Acquires Secret Lair, Studio Ch'in". Retrieved July 21, 2018.
  26. ^ "Vivendi acquires Centerscore". Retrieved July 21, 2018.
  27. ^ Dobson, Jason. "Vivendi Acquires Centerscore, Expands Mobile Portfolio". Retrieved July 21, 2018.
  28. ^ "Buy Low, Sell High: Vivendi's History in Video Games". Kotaku UK. Retrieved July 22, 2018.
  29. ^ Teather, David (June 19, 2000). "Vivendi seals merger". the Guardian. Retrieved July 22, 2018.
  30. ^ Staff, I. G. N. (November 13, 2002). "Europe Gets Hard Early". Retrieved July 22, 2018.
  31. ^ Varanini, Giancarlo (August 13, 2002). "Vivendi creates new studio". Retrieved July 22, 2018.
  32. ^ Staff, I. G. N. (August 13, 2002). "VU Creates Black Label Games". Retrieved July 22, 2018.
  33. ^ Pham, Alex (March 11, 2003). "Fox Sells Video Game Division to Vivendi". Retrieved July 22, 2018 – via LA Times.
  34. ^ Takahashi, Dean (March 1, 1994). "Technology". Retrieved July 22, 2018 – via LA Times.
  35. ^ "Vivendi Universal sells educational games division". Retrieved July 21, 2018.
  36. ^ "Vivendi Universal Publishing announces the acquisition of Massive Entertainment - Blue's News". Retrieved July 21, 2018.
  37. ^ Parker, Sam (October 3, 2002). "Vivendi Universal acquires Massive Entertainment". Retrieved July 22, 2018.
  38. ^ "VU Games acquires Simpsons: Hit & Run developer Radical Entertainment". Retrieved July 21, 2018.
  39. ^ Jenkins, David. "Gamasutra - The Art & Business of Making Games". Retrieved July 21, 2018.
  40. ^ "Vivendi nets Swordfish in new acquisition deal". Retrieved July 21, 2018.
  41. ^ "Vivendi Universal acquires High Moon Studios". Retrieved July 21, 2018.
  42. ^ "Vivendi Acquires Assault Heroes Developer". Retrieved July 21, 2018.
  43. ^ Boyer, Brandon. "Vivendi Acquires Wanako Games". Retrieved July 21, 2018.
  44. ^ "Vivendi acquires Wanako Games". Retrieved July 21, 2018.
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