Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. is an American video game developer and publisher based in Irvine, California, and is a subsidiary of the American company Activision Blizzard.
Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.
|Formally Called||Silicon & Synapse
|Founded(s)||February 8, 1991|
Heroes of the Storm
The company was founded on February 8, 1991, under the name Silicon & Synapse by three graduates of the University of California, Los Angeles: Michael Morhaime, Frank Pearce, and Allen Adham. The company originally concentrated on the creation of game ports for other studios before beginning development of their own software in 1993 with games like Rock n’ Roll Racing and The Lost Vikings. In 1994 the company became Chaos Studios, then Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. after being acquired by distributor Davidson & Associates.
Shortly thereafter, Blizzard released Warcraft: Orcs & Humans. Blizzard created several other video games, including Warcraft sequels, the Diablo series, the StarCraft series, and in 2004 the massively multiplayer online role-playing game World of Warcraft. Their most recent projects include the first expansion for Diablo III, Reaper of Souls, the online collectible card game Hearthstone, the sixth expansion for World of Warcraft, Legion, the multiplayer online battle arena Heroes of the Storm, the third and final expansion for StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, Legacy of the Void, and the multiplayer first-person hero shooter Overwatch.
On July 9, 2008, Activision merged with Vivendi Games, culminating in the inclusion of the Blizzard brand name in the title of the resulting holding company. On July 25, 2013, Activision Blizzard announced the purchase of 429 million shares from majority owner Vivendi. As a result, Activision Blizzard became a completely independent company.
Blizzard Entertainment hosts conventions for fans to meet and to promote their games: the BlizzCon in California, United States, and the Blizzard Worldwide Invitational in other countries, including South Korea and France.
Blizzard Entertainment was founded by Michael Morhaime, Allen Adham, and Frank Pearce as Silicon & Synapse on February 8, 1991, a year after all three had received their bachelor’s degrees from UCLA. During the first two years, the company focused on creating game ports for other studios. Ports include titles such as J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Vol. I and Battle Chess II: Chinese Chess. In 1993, the company developed games such as Rock n’ Roll Racing and The Lost Vikings (published by Interplay Productions).
In early 1994, they were acquired by distributor Davidson & Associates for $6.75 million ($10.9 million today). That same year the company briefly changed its name to Chaos Studios, before finally settling on Blizzard Entertainment (after it was discovered that another company with the Chaos name already existed). Shortly thereafter, Blizzard shipped their breakthrough hit Warcraft: Orcs & Humans.
Blizzard has changed hands several times since then. Davidson was acquired along with Sierra On-Line by a company called CUC International in 1996. CUC then merged with a hotel, real-estate, and car-rental franchiser called HFS Corporation to form Cendant in 1997. In 1998 it became apparent that CUC had engaged in accounting fraud for years before the merger. Cendant’s stock lost 80% of its value over the next six months in the ensuing widely discussed accounting scandal. The company sold its consumer software operations, Sierra On-line (which included Blizzard) to French publisher Havas in 1998, the same year Havas was purchased by Vivendi. Blizzard was part of the Vivendi Games group of Vivendi. In July 2008 Vivendi Games merged with Activision, using Blizzard’s name in the resulting company, Activision Blizzard.
In 1996, Blizzard acquired Condor Games, which had been working on the game Diablo for Blizzard at the time. Condor was renamed Blizzard North, and has since developed the games Diablo, Diablo II, and its expansion pack Lord of Destruction. Blizzard North was located in San Mateo, California. The company originated in Redwood City, California.
Blizzard launched their online gaming service Battle.net in January 1997 with the release of their action role-playing game Diablo. In 2002, Blizzard was able to reacquire rights for three of its earlier Silicon & Synapse titles, The Lost Vikings, Rock n’ Roll Racing and Blackthorne, from Interplay Entertainment and re-release them for Game Boy Advance, a handheld console. In 2004, Blizzard opened European offices in the Paris suburb of Vélizy, Yvelines, France. On May 16, 2005, Blizzard announced the acquisition of Swingin’ Ape Studios, a video game developer which had been developing StarCraft: Ghost. The company was then merged into Blizzard’s other teams after StarCraft: Ghost was “postponed indefinitely”. On August 1, 2005, Blizzard announced the consolidation of Blizzard North into the headquarters at 131 Theory in UC Irvine’s University Research Park in Irvine, California. In 2007, Blizzard moved their headquarters to 16215 Alton Parkway in Irvine, California.
On November 23, 2004, Blizzard released World of Warcraft, a massively multiplayer online role-playing game. World of Warcraft is the fourth released game set in the fantasy Warcraft universe, which was first introduced by Warcraft: Orcs & Humans in 1994. Blizzard announced World of Warcraft on September 2, 2001. The game was released on November 23, 2004, on the 10th anniversary of the Warcraft franchise.
The first expansion set of the game, The Burning Crusade, was released on January 16, 2007. The second expansion set, Wrath of the Lich King, was released on November 13, 2008. The third expansion set, Cataclysm was released on December 7, 2010. Mists of Pandaria and Warlords of Draenor, were released respectively on September 25, 2012 and November 13, 2014. The most recent expansion, Legion, was released on August 30, 2016.
Having peaked at 12 million monthly subscriptions in 2010, World of Warcraft subscriptions sunk to 6.8 million in 2014, the lowest number since the end of 2006, prior to The Burning Crusade expansion. However, World of Warcraft is still the world’s most-subscribed MMORPG, and holds the Guinness World Record for the most popular MMORPG by subscribers. In April 2008, World of Warcraft was estimated to hold 62 percent of the MMORPG subscription market. In 2008, Blizzard was honored at the 59th Annual Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards for the creation of World of Warcraft. Mike Morhaime accepted the award.
In 2012 Blizzard had 4,700 employees, with offices across 11 cities including Austin, Texas, and countries around the globe. As of June 2015, the company’s headquarters in Irvine, California had 2,622 employees.
Blizzard announced in September 2017 that it had acquired a studio at The Burbank Studios in Burbank, California, that will convert into the Blizzard Arena Los Angeles, featuring multiple sound stages, control rooms, practice facilities, a merchandise store, and seating for up to 450 spectators. Blizzard will use the venue to support its various eSports, starting with the Overwatch Contenders Season One in October 2017. Blizzard presently plans to use this only for their events but may allow other eSports leagues to use it in the future.
|Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal||Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness||1996||Classic Mac OS, MS-DOS, PlayStation, Sega Saturn, Windows|
|StarCraft: Brood War||StarCraft||1998||Windows, Classic Mac OS|
|Diablo II: Lord of Destruction||Diablo II||2001||Windows, Classic Mac OS, OS X|
|Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne||Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos||2003|
|World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade||World of Warcraft||2007||Windows, OS X|
|World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King||2008|
|World of Warcraft: Cataclysm||2010|
|World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria||2012|
|StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm||StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty||2013|
|Diablo III: Reaper of Souls||Diablo III||2014||Windows, OS X, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, Xbox One|
|World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor||World of Warcraft||Windows, OS X|
|StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void||StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty||2015|
|World of Warcraft: Legion||World of Warcraft||2016||Windows, OS X|
These games were ported while the company was known as Silicon & Synapse.
|Battle Chess||1992||Windows 3.x and Commodore 64 ports||Chess|
|Battle Chess II: Chinese Chess||Amiga port|
|J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Vol. I||Role-playing video game|
|Castles||Strategy video game|
|MicroLeague Baseball||1984||Sports video game|
|Lexi-Cross||1992||Macintosh port||Puzzle video game|
|Dvorak on Typing||Educational game|
|Shanghai II: Dragon’s Eye||1994||Windows 3.x port||Mahjong Solitaire|