Vicarious Visions – the studio behind multiple Crash Bandicoot, Tony Hawk, Guitar Hero and Skylanders entries – is to be merged with Blizzard, it is being reported.
According to Polygon, which has spoken to various staff at the studio, the decision to abandon the Vicarious Visions name and merge fully with Blizzard was delivered during what was supposed to be a light-hearted company call, with staff urged to dress up for Halloween prior to the "light and quick" meeting.
Parent company Activision Blizzard is currently involved in more than one ongoing sexual harassment lawsuit relating to claims that it fosters a toxic workplace environment, so the move has understandably gone down rather poorly with some of the staff involved.
Speaking to Polygon, one staffer said:
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.
Founded way back in 1991, Vicarious Visions worked on titles such as the award-winning Terminus and Spider-Man 2: Enter Electro, as well as a series of ports for the Game Boy Advance, such as Tony Hawk's Pro-Skater 2, Jet Set Radio, Crash Nitro Kart and Batman Begins.
In 2005, it was purchased by Activision and has since worked on the likes of the Skylanders: SuperChargers, Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2 and Diablo II: Resurrected. The last of those games is significant because it was the first project the studio had worked on since it was aligned with the 'Blizzard' side of Activision Blizzard, with the view to working on the Diablo series.
Polygon reports that it has reached out to an Activision Blizzard representative about this story, but received no reply prior to publication.