Guitar Hero and WoW Creators, Activision and Vivendi Merge

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In an unexpected move, Vivendi and Activision have announced a merger. The new company, worth $19 billion, will be called Activision Blizzard. The merge makes Activision Blizzard the largest independent video game publisher, ahead of Electronic Arts, when the deal is completed in the first half of 2008.

The portfolio of the two companies is mixed. Activision is a strong console publisher with titles like Call of Duty, Guitar Hero, James Bond and Tony Hawk. Until recently, Vivendi was in the red and relies heavily on World of Warcraft for a profit. The popular massively-multiplayer game has over 9 million subscribers. Their Sierra unit has rights to F.E.A.R., SWAT, Crash Bandicoot, and Spyro. Blizzard, also a Vivendi label, owns the rights to Warcraft, Starcraft and Diablo.

Robert Kotick, Activision’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, will remain the CEO of Activision Blizzard. “This is an outstanding transaction for Activision and our stockholders, as well as a pivotal event in the continuing transformation of the interactive entertainment industry. By combining leaders in mass-market entertainment and subscription-based online games, Activision Blizzard will be the only publisher with leading market positions across all categories of the rapidly growing interactive entertainment software industry and reach the broadest possible audiences,” Kotick said.