Activision Publishing

From the Audiovisual Identity Database, the motion graphics museum



Background

Activision Publishing was founded on October 1, 1979 by Atari programmers David Crane, Alan Miller, and Bob Whitehead. It was the world's first independent developer and distributor for video game consoles. Their first titles were games for the Atari 2600 video computer system and they were the first third-party developer for it. In 1988, their name was changed to "Mediagenic" when it began involvement on video game systems. However, in December 1992 after emerging from bankruptcy, it was officially renamed back to its current name.

In December 2007, it was announced that Activision would merge with Vivendi Games, the owner of Blizzard Entertainment; the merge was completed in July 2008. The company is currently a subsidiary of Activision Blizzard and is known for publishing and distributing the Tony Hawk, Call of Duty and Crash Bandicoot franchises, and was also known for publishing the Vigilante 8, Spider-Man, Tenchu, True Crime, Guitar Hero and Skylanders franchises.

On July 20, 2021, holding company Activision Blizzard was sued by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing due to widespread allegations of sexual harassment. As a result, on January 18, 2022, it was announced that Microsoft would be acquiring Activision Blizzard, but due to rising fears that it would drastically impact distribution of games for non-Microsoft consoles, several organizations filed suits to block the acquisition starting in late 2022. Regardless, the deal was closed on October 13, 2023.



1st Logo (1979-January 21, 1993; November 19, 2002-November 14, 2008)

Visuals: Copyright info for the game's year of release appears. It then moves upward, with the Activision logo (the text "ACTIVISION" in a custom font with the "V"'s horns expanded to the top and connected to the letter "T", and a rainbow to the left of the "A", respectively) appearing under the info.

Trivia: This logo was designed by Landor Associates in New York, who were also responsible for the animated version seen on Activision commercials.

Variants:

  • On Activision Anthology, the logo is redone in a better quality. There is the rainbow sliding from the left, pulling the Activision logo on-screen from the right. The complete logo flashes.
    • This variant is based on the logo used in Activision commercials from the 80's; there was also a slogan saying "We put you in the game".
  • Some Atari 2600 games don't have the rainbow attached to the "A".
  • The rainbow's color is different on some Atari 2600 games.

Technique: None; sprite-based animation for the variant.

Audio: None. On the variant, a brief brass-synth rock ensemble plays, a theme originally used in the aforementioned commercials.

Availability:

  • Seen on some Amiga games from the company, as well as on the bottom of the screen when an Activision game for Atari 2600 is inserted and running. It also reappears when the game ends. Both A Collection of Activision Classic Games on PS1 and Activision Anthology on PS2 keep the logos intact on all games emulated on the discs.
  • The variation is only seen on the PS2 version of Activision Anthology. It doesn't appear on Activision Hits Remixed for PSP or Activision Anthology for iOS, as the former used the 5th logo instead and the latter did not use the variant. This logo also made surprise appearances on the PS2 game Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s and the Nintendo DS game Guitar Hero On Tour: Decades.

2nd Logo (Still variants) (1984-)

Visuals: There is the Activision logo in white without the rainbow.

Variants:

  • On some games, like the SNES version of MechWarrior, MechWarrior 3050 and Radical Rex, the logo is on a blue background with scattered white fragments.
  • On Zork Nemesis, the logo is white with "presents" below.
  • On NetStorm: Islands at War, the logo is white with "presents" in Copperplate Gothic Regular font below.
  • On some GBC and GBA games, the logo is blue with a white outline.
  • On the trailer for Quake 4, the logo has a crystallized orange look.

Technique: Depends on the variant, but usually none.

Audio: None or the opening theme of the game.

Availability: Seen on the games mentioned above on their respected platforms using their respected variants. It is currently used in tandem with the sixth logo.

3rd Logo (January 1, 1985-1988)

Visuals: On a starry background, there is a white figure flipping in, from the top to near the center of the screen, revealing an outlined rectangle with the text "ACTIVISION" at the top, with a line below it, and "HOME COMPUTER SOFTWARE" at the bottom, and a trademark symbol to the right of the rectangle. The logo shines, then fades away via turning black slowly.

Variants:

  • On Atari 8-bit family games, the logo turns blue, then the text "Please stand by while program is loading" is shown under the rectangle.
  • On Commodore 64 games, the logo turns lavender with the same text below.
  • On DOS games, the stars are in two colors. Some are lavender and some are turquoise.
  • Still variants of this logo exist, usually featuring the title of the game and copyright information below, but sometimes part of a title screen.
  • Starting in late 1986, the text "HOME COMPUTER SOFTWARE" is removed from the box.

Technique: Sprite-based animation.

Audio: None.

Availability: The animated version has so far been found on only three games: Garry Kitchen's Gamemaker for the Commodore 64, Hacker for the Atari 8-bit family of computers, and Ghostbusters for the IBM PC. Still versions have appeared on Mindshadow and Knightmare for the ZX Spectrum, Master of the Lamps for MSX, Adventure of the Year for the Commodore 64 and the Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum versions of Enduro Racer.

4th Logo (August 1995-September 30, 1997)


Visuals: There is the Activision logo made out of stone (and in perspective) against a cloud background, above a body of water with its reflection on it, which is waving.

Technique: CGI.

Audio: The sound of the water waves. Sometimes, the game's background music is heard.

Availability: Appears on Activision's earlier Saturn and PS1 games such as Blast Chamber, Grand Tour Racing '98 and Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain. It can be also seen on some PC games, such as the PC versions of Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure and Earthworm Jim: Special Edition.

5th Logo (September 26, 1997-June 25, 2003)

Visuals: The sequence starts on a black background. After some time, a piece of the background is broken while flying away, revealing a beam of light. More pieces break out, and more light emits through the holes. The light begins to change color as more pieces are breaking out. As all the pieces fly off-screen, the Activision logo is shown. It glows purple-blue for a few seconds, and then vanishes via a TV power off-like effect by zooming in blurring, and later disappears.

Later Variant: Starting with Heavy Gear, the animation is enhanced; the light just glows blue, the pieces are blown out faster than usual, and the effect towards the end is different.

Variants:

  • On some games, the logo is slightly sped up.
  • On games published by Activision Value, the word "Value" in cursive appears on the bottom of the Activision logo.
  • On Heavy Gear II, the logo fades out instead of disappearing.
  • A still version exists. It can be on either a black or white background.

Technique: CGI.

Audio:

  • Early version: At the beginning, there is a choir when the screen is black, then an explosion sounds when the pieces are breaking out, accompanied by a THX-like ascending synth note when the logo is revealed. Then, an electric power-off sound when the logo disappears.
  • Later version: Same as the early version, but the music and sounds were enhanced.

Audio Variants:

  • On the PS1 version of Spider-Man (the 2000 game of the same name), the last second of the audio is cut off.
  • On the still version, none or the opening theme of the game.

Availability:

  • Appears on PS1, Dreamcast and PC games from the era such as Dark Reign 2, Vilgante 8 and its sequel, Vilgante 8: 2nd Offense, SiN, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater and its sequel, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 (PS1 and Dreamcast versions only), X-Men: Mutant Academy, the PS1 and Dreamcast versions of both Toy Story 2: Buzz Lightyear to the Rescue! and Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, Toy Story Racer, BattleZone (the 1998 PC game based on the 1980 arcade game of the same name), Asteroids (the 1998 remake of the 1979 arcade game), A Collection of Activision Classic Games for the Atari 2600 and its sister game, A Collection of Classic Games for the Mattel Intellevision, Pitfall 3D: Beyond the Jungle, Spider-Man (the 2000 game; excluding its PC version, which has the logo below), Apocalypse, Tai Fu: Wrath of the Tiger, Heavy Gear and its sequel, Heavy Gear II.
  • It can also be seen on Orphen: Scion of Sorcery and the North American release of Bloody Roar 3 (the European release has the 1997-2002 Virgin Interactive logo instead, and the Japanese release outright omits it), which are the only PS2 games to use this logo.
  • This logo is kept on the iOS version of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2, but the first 2 seconds of this logo are cut off. As of 2014 however, due to incompatibility with iOS versions past 7 on video playback, the game was removed from the App Store.
  • The still version appears on games by this company, like some of the aforementioned games for Nintendo 64 and Game Boy Color (not counting the N64 version of THPS2 released in 2001, which used the Activision O2 brand instead, and the GBC version of Toy Story 2: Buzz Lightyear to the Rescue!, which was instead published by THQ). The logo described above appears mostly on some games for the PC and PS1 from 1997-1998 like Nightmare Creatures, Dark Reign: The Future of War and Zork: Grand Inquisitor.
  • The Activision Value variant is seen on low-priced PC games such as the PC version of The House of the Dead 2 and Boards and Blades 2.

6th Logo (August 26, 2001-)

Visuals: On a black background with many different symbols sliding in from many areas, there is the "V" swooping in from the right getting to the center. Then, the letters "A", "C", "T", three "I"'s, "S" "O" and "N" appear from different areas spinning quickly around the "V". Then, they spin faster and faster, and suddenly all the letters quickly connect into a slightly different Activision logo, as the background disappears and very dark light rays appear. The logo quickly zooms to us, shaking for a brief moment and the rays dye out. The logo turns two-dimensional and fades out after a couple of seconds.

Later Variant: Starting with the Xbox 360 launch titles Call of Duty 2, Gun, Quake 4, and Tony Hawk's American Wasteland, all released on November 22, 2005, there is an elaborate HD version of the logo, which doesn't have the blur and the background is a bit darker. Also, there is a widescreen version of it depending on the selected resolution.

Variants:

  • There is a still version, as well as a color inverted version.
  • Sometimes, and on later revisions, the logo cuts to black early at the end.
  • On the PS2 version of X-Men: Next Dimension, the logo plays at a lower frame rate.
  • On some games, such as the console versions of Shrek 2, the PS2 version of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Ty the Tasmanian Tiger 3: The Night of the Quinkan, the logo is horizontally squished.
  • On the PS2 version of Guitar Hero: Aerosmith, the logo is vertically stretched.
  • On the console versions of Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, the logo is slowed down slightly.
  • On the Wii version of Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam, the logo has a slight tinge of green due to color grading from the digital intermediate process.
  • The logo has also been rendered in 60 frames per second in some games.

Technique: CGI. This was designed and animated by Christine Hermsmeyer at Herms Terms Studios.

Audio: Many swirling and whooshing sounds as the letters spin, followed by a deep bang when the logo zooms in quickly. Starting in 2009 with Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2, the whooshing sounds and the bang are different. However, some games, like Transformers: Devastation and Spyro: Reignited Trilogy, retain the original sounds.

Audio Variants:

  • On some games, like the PS2 version of Wreckless: The Yakuza Missions and Shrek: Smash & Crash Racing, the sounds are higher-pitched.
  • On Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and the PS2 version of X-Men: Next Dimension, the sounds are choppy.
  • On Tenchu: Wrath of Heaven and its Xbox port Return From Darkness, the sounds are heavily compressed.
  • An unseen variant exists on Call of Duty: World at War where the whooshing sounds are replaced with whispering voices that say the company name.

Availability: It appeared on many games published by the company since Spider-Man 2: Enter Electro.

  • Notable examples of where you can find it on include X-Men: Mutant Academy 2, X-Men: Next Dimension, Pitfall: The Lost Expedition, Shrek 2, Shark Tale, Madagascar, the Spider-Man games from the aforementioned Enter Electro to The Amazing Spider-Man 2, the Call of Duty series prior to World at War, as well as many other games including the Tony Hawk series starting with Tony Hawk's Underground, the True Crime series, X-Men Legends and its sequel, Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines, Gun, The Movies, Over the Hedge, the first two Marvel Ultimate Alliance games, and Bee Movie Game, among many others.
  • The HD version appears on later games for Xbox 360, PS3, PC, and Wii among others starting with Call of Duty 2, as well as Singularity, the 007 games from GoldenEye 007 (2010) to 007 Legends, the Skylanders series, Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse, Deadpool, and Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy. This logo strangely does not appear on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (the 2009 game).
  • This logo is still used, despite being mostly replaced by its custom variants on newer titles (especially the Call of Duty ones), as it recently appeared on Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2, as well as Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time.