OverviewSilicon & Synapse was founded in 1991 in Irvine, California by Allen Adham and Michael Morhaime, with Brian Fargo, the CEO and founder of Interplay Entertainment, being granted a share in the company to improve the prospects of working jointly for the young studio. Frank Pearce also joined the studio upon inception as the first employee.
The small company initially did many "ports", converting games from one platform operating system to another, including board games (Battle Chess, Lexicross), strategy games (Castles), sports games (Amiga Baseball), and others (Dvorak Teaches Typing), though the company did become the first American developer to release a Super Nintendo title with RPM Racing, which became one of the first ten launch titles for the platform in North America.
It was not until Interplay Entertainment and Silicon & Synapse collaborated on the SNES side-scroller The Lost Vikings that its critical -- though not commercial -- breakthrough came. With some acclaim, the game hit the shelves in 1993. The game's release, along with Rock & Roll Racking (also 1993) led Nintendo to name the studio its "Developer of the Year". Tragically, the release of the two games coincided with the death of the 16-bit console market, and neither title sold well.
Facing a lack of success in the console market, and not willing to bet solely on one market, the company continued developing several 16-bit console titles while branching out by starting development on two new games: Games People Play, a crossword/word-game that was never completed, and Warcraft: Orcs & Humans, whose development was led by its second employee and VP of Research & Development, Patrick Wyatt.
The company temporarily rebranded itself as Chaos Studios and released the game Blackthorne under that studio name, but conflicts with an unregistered trademark for the name "Chaos" caused the company leadership to consider a new name. Upon acquisition by Davidson & Associates, then the #3 North American educational software publisher, in February 1994, the company changed its name to Blizzard Entertainment.
Blizzard became an influential development studio thanks to well-received franchises such as Warcraft, Diablo and StarCraft. With the release of those games the studio garnered many awards and a great deal of commercial success; building one of the most profitable games ever with the release of World of Warcraft in 2004.
A good deal of the success for the company's online games can be attributed to Battle.net, a free online gaming service on the internet, that enabled players throughout the world to play its games.
The company's ownership has shifted many times over the years, through mergers, name changes or acquisitions:
- Davidson & Associates (1994-1996)
- CUC International (1996-1997)
- Cendant Software (1997-1998)
- Havas (1998)
- Vivendi (1998-2007)
- Activision Blizzard (2007-...)
- Games People Play: crossword puzzles, boggle, and other word games
- Nomad: the precursor to World of Warcraft
- Pax Imperia: Eminent Domain: picked up and finished by Heliotrope Studios.
- Shattered Nations: a turn-based isometric perspective strategy game
- Warcraft Adventures: a point-and-click adventure game set in the Warcraft universe.
Contributed by Kartanym (12825) on Jun 05, 2002. [revised by : 5 other people].