Vicarious Visions drops its title in merger with Blizzard, sources say

Activision Blizzard knowledgeable Vicarious Visions staff Wednesday that the studio would lose its title as a part of its ongoing merger with Blizzard Leisure, sources informed Polygon.

The studio behind Tony Hawk’s Professional Skater 1 and a pair of and work on the not too long ago launched Diablo 2: Resurrected was officially merged with Blizzard Entertainment in January. Vicarious Visions had been working with the Overwatch and World of Warcraft writer for a while, however the official merger meant that its main focus would shift to “long-term assist” of Blizzard video games.

Vicarious Visions employees informed Polygon that they had been initially below the impression the merger meant their employer would proceed to function as its personal studio, though it was owned by Blizzard. The news concerning the title drop got here throughout a city corridor assembly on Wednesday morning. A brand new title for the studio has not been introduced, however some employees speculated that it might be merely known as Blizzard Albany. (Vicarious Visions’ workplace is positioned in Albany, New York. Blizzard usually makes use of this naming conference for its satellite tv for pc workplaces, for instance, Blizzard Austin in Texas.)

In August, former Vicarious Visions studio head Jen Oneal was named a co-president of Blizzard Leisure. (She was named an govt vice chairman of improvement at Blizzard in the course of the January merger.)

Polygon reached out to an Activision Blizzard consultant about this improvement. We now have not heard again as of publication time.

Many of the Vicarious Visions staff who spoke to Polygon mentioned they aren’t essentially stunned by the announcement, with one noting that the “writing was on the wall.” However at the very least one employee was dissatisfied by the shortage of transparency and sudden announcement throughout a “gentle and fast” assembly on what staff described as a fancy dress day. Some staff had been wearing Halloween costumes in the course of the name.

Management mentioned there have been no layoffs at present deliberate, based on the staff who spoke to Polygon. With the merger already introduced and underway, staffers didn’t anticipate a lot to alter in any other case, however some staff famous that there have been nonetheless numerous questions unanswered.

“For all the management’s discuss being extra clear in response to the lawsuit and ensuing fiasco, the actual fact they determined to blindside us all with this feels about as removed from clear as you may get,” an worker informed Polygon.

Vicarious Visions was based in 1991 in Albany, N.Y. by then high-schoolers Karthik and Guha Bala, who immediately lead Velan Studios, developers of Knockout City for Electronic Arts. The Balas offered the studio to Activision in 2005 and left it in 2016.

Previous to the studio’s formal merger with Blizzard Leisure, Vicarious Visions had labored on ports for titles like Final Spider-Man, Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast and Jedi Academy.

Activision Blizzard at present faces wide-ranging allegations that it maintains a poisonous office setting that’s notably hostile to girls. California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) investigated the corporate for 2 years earlier than submitting the lawsuit, and located that girls are paid much less and topic to sexual harassment, with out significant punishment utilized to perpetrators. Within the interval for the reason that lawsuit was filed in late July, the DFEH has expanded its complaint to incorporate allegations that Activision Blizzard “suppressed” proof in its investigation. The corporate denies that declare.

Activision Blizzard can be at present going through a number of lawsuits and a U.S. Securities and Alternate Fee investigation. One in all its lawsuits, filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Alternative Fee, was settled for $18 million earlier this year.

Greater than 40 Activision Blizzard staff have been disciplined within the months following the preliminary DFEH lawsuit. Additionally in its wake, Blizzard made good on its promise to rename the Overwatch character formerly known as Jesse McCree: He’s now Cole Cassidy.

Staff on the firm have continued to talk out on social media and elsewhere to encourage substantial change. You possibly can learn extra concerning the allegations in opposition to Activision Blizzard in Polygon’s explainer.

https://www.polygon.com/22749644/vicarious-visions-blizzard-albany-merger-studio-name-change | Vicarious Visions drops its title in merger with Blizzard, sources say

Aila Slisco

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