Vicarious Visions, a video game studio most recently known for launching the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy and Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 and 2 remakes has now been fully merged with Blizzard and will be "fully dedicated to Blizzard games."
This isn't part of Microsoft's historic near-$70 billion buyout of Activision Blizzard back in January. Activision purchased Vicarious Visions back in January 2005. The studio has a long history of making movie tie-ins and licensed video games, such as Finding Nemo and Disney's Brother Bear, but more recently it remade fan favourites Crash Bandicoot 1, 2, and 3, as well as Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 and 2.
In January 2021, Vicarious Visions was shifted from being a subsidiary of Activision to one of Blizzard. The reward for the studio's excellent work on the Crash and Tony Hawk remakes was to be turned into support for Blizzard's live-service titles.
A similar fate befell Toys For Bob, the developer behind the Spyro Reignited Trilogy and Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time. The studio has since been repurposed to work on Call of Duty: Warzone.
As well as the lawsuit against Activision Blizzard that alleges the company has a toxic "frat boy" work culture that excuses misogyny and unfairly passes up women for career advancement, the company consistently buys studios just to turn them into support for its existing brands. Rather than allowing them to maintain their creative freedom and develop interesting games, they're placed into the live service pipeline to generate income and content for the company's cash cows.
There's nothing wrong with live service games, far from it. They're valuable and beloved by many, but it's a shame to see studios that make games that are both critically and publically well received be turned into support for large games, rather than being left to continue making separate works for people to enjoy.
Microsoft has said it will largely allow Activision Blizzard to continue to run creatively as it sees fit, so there isn't much hope that this is the last of these sorts of moves we'll see in the future.
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