The studio has confirmed that their development team will remain working in Albany, New York but are now solely focused on creating Blizzard games. The name Vicarious Visions will no longer be used.
Vicarious Visions was founded in 1991 by brothers Karthik Bala and Guha Bala, and became well known for its work on handheld ports of console games, including bringing the 2000 Spider-Man to Game Boy Color and early entries in Neversoft’s Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series to Game Boy Advance.
We've officially merged with Blizzard Entertainment. Our development team will remain in Albany, NY and fully dedicated to Blizzard games. We invite you to follow us @Blizzard_Ent
— Vicarious Visions (@VvisionsStudio) April 12, 2022
The studio was acquired by Activision in 2005, where it initially worked on more handheld games, including the Guitar Hero series and the Nintendo 3DS releases of several Skylanders games. It also served as the lead developer for 2013’s Skylanders: Swap Force and 2015’s Skylanders: SuperChargers. More recently, Vicarious Visions helmed the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 remakes and supported last September’s Diablo II: Resurrected.
The decision to merge the team into Blizzard was taken in January 2021, with the publisher saying at the time that Vicarious Vision’s team of 200 people will now be employees of Blizzard, and will be “fully dedicated to existing Blizzard games and initiatives”’.
Then in October, staff at Vicarious Visions were apparently told that Activision Blizzard would be dropping the Vicarious Visions name entirely, despite them believing the studio would retain its own identity.
Jen Oneal, former VV Studio Head and new EVP of Development at Blizzard, shares her excitement regarding the recent news of Vicarious Visions merging into Blizzard.https://t.co/IysQ9qJ0Wt
— Vicarious Visions (@VvisionsStudio) January 27, 2021
After the merger in January, former Vicarious Visions studio head Jen Oneal became Blizzard’s executive vice president of development. In July she was promoted to president (alongside Mike Ybarra) after former president J. Allen Brack stepped down in light of a workplace discrimination and harassment lawsuit brought by California regulators.
She quit after three months though, after expressing a lack of faith in leadership. According to the Wall Street Journal, she’d told the companies legal team “it was clear that the company would never prioritise our people the right way” while later reports by IGN suggested she was only offered equal pay to her male co-president after she’d handed in her resignation.
In other news, Blizzard has confirmed that the next expansion for World Of Warcraft will be officially revealed next week (April 19).