Earlier this year, Activision celebrated the release of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2 by announcing developer Vicarious Visions would be repositioned to solely support Blizzard games (opens in new tab). Now, Polygon reports (opens in new tab) that the studio will drop its name entirely as it fully merges with the Warcraft-maker.
Sources at Vicarious Visions told Polygon that the name drop was announced at a town hall yesterday, and that while no new name has been confirmed, many suspect the studio will be rebranded as Blizzard Albany in line with the studio's other satellite offices. Prior to the announcement, staff told Polygon they expected Visions would continue to operate as its own entity under (but not explicitly a part of) Blizzard.
While staff noted that this wasn't an entirely unexpected move, some felt blindsided by its positioning in a "light and quick" meeting. Bizarrely, management also made the announcement during a studio Halloween costume day, with Polygon noting that many employees were dressed up in spooky outfits when the news broke.
"For all of the leadership’s talk about being more transparent in response to the lawsuit and resulting fiasco, the fact they decided to blindside us all with this feels about as far from transparent as you can get," commented one employee.
That "fiasco" refers to Activision Blizzard's ongoing lawsuit (opens in new tab) with two government bodies over accusations of sexual harassment, abuse and discrimination (opens in new tab). This week the publisher's attempt to kill the lawsuit over a conflict of interest was denied (opens in new tab), though it's unlikely Activision will stop trying to use the dispute between California's Department for Employment and Housing and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (opens in new tab) to its advantage.
Vicarious Visions leadership reportedly told staff that no layoffs are planned as part of the merge. In May, Activision similarly pivoted Spyro developer Toys for Bob into a Call of Duty support studio (opens in new tab), though it remains to be seen if that studio will similarly be absorbed by one of the publisher's bigger hitters.