Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Activision, Inc. is a computer and video game publisher founded in 1979. Its first products were cartridges for the Atari 2600 video console system, and it is now one of the largest video game publishers in the world, second only to Electronic Arts.
Prior to the formation of Activision, video games were published exclusively by the makers of the systems the games were designed for. For example, Atari was the only publisher of games for the Atari 2600. Activision was the first third-party game publisher.
The company was founded by former music industry executive Jim Levy and former Atari programmers David Crane, Larry Kaplan, Alan Miller and Bob Whitehead. Atari did not credit its programmers when it released software titles, which is commonly cited as a reason the developers left. Levy took the approach of promoting game creators along with the games themselves.
The departure of the four programmers, whose titles made up more than half of Atari's cartridge sales at the time, caused legal action between the two companies which was not ultimately settled until 1982. As the market for game consoles started to decline, Activision branched out, producing game titles for home computers as well, and acquiring smaller publishers.
In 1985, Activision merged with struggling text adventure pioneer Infocom. The CEO of Activision at the time, Joel Berez , was a big fan of Infocom's titles and wanted Infocom to remain solvent. However, about six months after the "InfoWedding", Bruce Davis took over as CEO of Activision. Davis was against the merger from the start and was heavy-handed in management of them. He also forced marketing changes on Infocom which caused sales of their games to plummet. Eventually, in 1989, after several years of losses, Activision closed down the Infocom studios in Cambridge, Massachusetts extending to only 11 of the 26 employees an offer to relocate to Activision's headquarters in Silicon Valley; five did.
Activision changed its name to Mediagenic in 1988, in an attempt to capture the business software market. To this end, Mediagenic released Cornerstone, a relational database software program developed by Infocom. The effort was a commercial failure, and in 1992 Mediagenic filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. This resulted in a reorganization and merger with The Disc Company . After emerging from bankruptcy, it changed its name back to Activision. While emerging from bankruptcy, it continued to develop games for PCs and video game consoles and resumed making strategic acquisitions.
In 1991 Activision packaged 20 of Infocom's past games into a CD-ROM collection called The Lost Treasures of Infocom sans most of the "feelies" Infocom was famous for. The success of this compilation led to the 1992 release of 11 more Infocom titles in The Lost Treasures of Infocom II .
Notable published titles
- Zork Grand Inquisitor (1997)
- Kaboom! (for the Atari 2600)
- Pitfall! (for the Atari 2600)
- Shanghai solitaire
- Mechwarrior 2: 31st Century Combat
- Quake II, Quake III Arena
- Tony Hawk's Pro Skater
- Star Trek: Voyager - Elite Force, Star Trek Elite Force 2
- Return to Castle Wolfenstein
- Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory
- Lost Kingdoms and Lost Kingdoms II
- Soldier of Fortune, Soldier of Fortune II: Double Helix
- Call of Duty
- Rome: Total War
- Doom 3
- Minority Report: Everybody Runs
- Gray Matter Interactive
- Infinity Ward
- Raven Software
- Shaba Games
- Z-Axis Ltd.
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