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Blizzard Absorbs Activision Studio After Dismantling Classic Games Team

Inside The 2017 E3 Electronic Entertainment Expo
Photographer: Troy Harvey/Bloomberg

Video game publisher Activision Blizzard Inc. took another step in consolidating control over division Blizzard Entertainment, which once took pride in its autonomy, by shifting a 200-person design studio to its ranks. 

The studio, Vicarious Visions, had been a subsidiary of Activision since 2005 and worked on franchises like Skylanders, Crash Bandicoot and Tony Hawk. It will now focus entirely on Blizzard’s franchises, including Diablo, instead of making its own games. Former Vicarious Visions studio head Jennifer Oneal will take a seat on Blizzard's leadership team, reporting directly to the president.

The news, reported by GamesIndustry.biz, arrived just a few weeks after Blizzard quietly dismantled one of its internal development teams, according to people familiar with the company.  

Blizzard, the maker of games like World of Warcraft and Overwatch, has traditionally developed most of its games in-house. But in recent years, the Activision publishing arm has taken a stronger hand in Blizzard’s operations. Vicarious Visions, based in Albany, New York, has been working with Blizzard since last year on the Diablo franchise, including a planned remake of Diablo II, people familiar with the plans said. They asked not to be identified discussing private information.