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Activision studios deny "heavy-handed" corporate atmosphere

Raven, Vicarious Visions and High Moon support parent company's approach to developers

Representatives from three of Activision's development studios have denied that their parent publisher is "heavy-handed" in its dealings with them, and supported its approach to the way the business is structured.

In a session at PAX East, entitled "Owned but Independent", host Dan Amrich - formerly a journalist but currently social media manager at Activision - quizzed senior figures from Raven Software, Vicarious Visions and High Moon Studios about the atmosphere, and their relationships with the publisher.

Jennifer O'Neal, executive producer at Vicarious Visions, noted that life as part of Activision was less risky "of a position than when we were independent," as reported by Gamasutra, adding that her company was free to spend budget as it saw fit - including some areas that an indie would find difficult to justify, such as motion capture.

Meanwhile Eric Biessman, senior project lead at Raven, noted that the studio's current owner was less controlling than previous publishing clients had been, recalling: "If we didn't turn in a milestone every month that wasn't exactly what was listed in our contract they wouldn't pay us."

And Peter Della Penna, head of High Moon, talked up the studio culture as "key" to the relationship, adding that the studio wasn't forced to work on projects it didn't feel were suitable - and that compared with external license-holders, Activision's approach was "structured, but not heavy-handed".

Amrich had prefaced the session by explaining his desire to overturn the prevailing notion that Activision's studios were stifled by corporate management - an impression he admitted to having before joining the firm.

Vicarious Visions has recently been responsible for the Wii version of Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock, while Raven Software released FPS title Singularity last year. High Moon's most recent title was Transformers: War for Cybertron.

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