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Blizzard Entertainment is an American video game developer and publisher headquartered in Irvine, California. It is a division of Activision Blizzard. Blizzard is probably best known for its successful multiplayer online roleplaying game, World of Warcraft. They also created several other successful games including the Warcraft, StarCraft, and Diablo series.
Blizzard Entertainment was founded by Michael Morhaime, Ayman Allen Adham and Frank Pearce as Silicon & Synapse in February 1991, a year after all three had received their bachelor's degrees from UCLA. In the early days the company focused on creating game ports for other studios. Ports include titles such as J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, Vol. I and Battle Chess II: Chinese Chess. In 1993, the company developed games like Rock N' Roll Racing and The Lost Vikings (published by Interplay Productions). In 1994, the company briefly changed its name to Chaos Studios, before finally settling on Blizzard Entertainment after it was discovered that another company with the Chaos name already existed. That same year, they were acquired by distributor Davidson & Associates for under $10 million. Shortly thereafter, Blizzard shipped their breakthrough hit Warcraft: Orcs and Humans.
Blizzard has changed hands several times since then: Davidson was acquired along with Sierra On-Line by a company called CUC International in 1996; CUC then merged with a hotel, real-estate, and car-rental franchiser called HFS Corporation to form Cendant in 1997. In 1998 it became apparent that CUC had engaged in accounting fraud for years before the merger; Cendant's stock lost 80% of its value over the next six months in the ensuing widely discussed accounting scandal. The company sold its consumer software operations, Sierra On-line which included Blizzard, to French publisher Havas in 1998, the same year Havas was purchased by Vivendi. Blizzard was part of the Vivendi Games group of Vivendi. In July 2008 Vivendi Games merged with Activision, using Blizzard's name in the resulting company, Activision Blizzard.