As mergers go, it seems the Activision/Vivendi merger is shaping up to be a particularly brutal one and also a classic case of a ‘rationlisation strategy’, for it seems that many Vivendi games have been killed off by the new combined entity.
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According to some reports games such as 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand, Brutal Legend, Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena, World in Conflict: Soviet Assault, WET and Ghostbusters: The Videogame were all on the way out and the future of the likes of Crash Bandicoot, Spyro The Dragon, Ice Age and Prototype was still up in the air.
But Activision Publishing says it will continue to support the Vivendi Games’ catalogue including The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, which was launched only days ago.
Additionally, Activision Publishing also announced that the company intends to “adapt the Vivendi Games’ studio operations to better align the studio structure against the new product slate. The company will realign staffing at Radical Entertainment and High Moon Studios and is exploring options regarding Massive Entertainment and Swordfish Studios, including the possibility of divestiture”.
But more worrying is the announcement that the company also is “evaluating options regarding two non-strategic business units Vivendi Games Mobile and Sierra Online”, which provides casual games for the PC and Xbox Live Marketplace, including the “possibility of divesting these business units”.
This strategy of divesting has many analysts puzzled as PC game sales have reshaped the toy and game retailing industry, and the trend is set to intensify in the years ahead.
IBISWorld predicts that video games will account for about 40% of global sales in the toy and game retailing industry, up from just 15% in 1998-99.
And the Interactive Entertainment Association of Australia (IEAA) notes that console and computer game sales in Australia alone reached a record high of $1.3 billion in 2007, a 43.6% increase on the previous year.