Vicarious Visions Co-Founder Brothers Depart After 25 Years

by Mike Futter on Apr 05, 2016 at 05:26 AM

Karthik and Guha Bala, founders of upstate New York-based Vicarious Visions, have departed the studio. The duo have been behind installments of Activision’s biggest properties, including Guitar Hero, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, and Skylanders.

“Vicarious Visions started in 1991 as a high school kid’s dream to make video games,” said Vicarious Visions co-founder Karthik Bala. “This year is VV’s 25th anniversary, and what a wonderful journey it has been!  We’ve made some great games that have had critical and commercial success, and what we’re most proud of is the people, culture and values of the company.”  

The brothers have managed the studio together since its inception, working on a number of Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, DS, and 3DS games. The company was acquired by Activision in 2005.

It’s been amazing to see the growth, especially during the past 11 years as part of Activision,” said co-founder Guha Bala. We look forward to the success which lies ahead for Vicarious Visions under new leadership and thank Activision for celebrating and supporting all that we have accomplished together. Now it’s time for the two of us to begin a new adventure.”

The team brought the full Skylanders experience to mobile in 2014, developing a bluetooth portal compatible with the toys. The studio also led development on 2013’s Swap Force and 2015’s Superchargers. Marvel fans might recall that Vicarious Visions also handled the Civil War-themed Ultimate Alliance 2, after handling the PSP and Wii installments of the first entry in that short-lived series.

Despite a recent downturn in Activision’s casual game business, this is not the end for Vicarious Visions. The studio will now be under the interim direction of executive producers David Nathanielsz and Jennifer O’Neal.

“Guha and Karthik created something very special with Vicarious Visions that has brought joy to millions of people,” said Activision publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg. “They have been wonderful members of the Activision family, and we look forward to seeing what they do next.”  

[Source: Albany Times Union via Gamasutra]


Our Take
The Balas have been an enormous part of the gaming landscape for a quarter-century, and I’m hopeful this doesn’t mark an exit from the industry. Vicarious Visions has been a stable studio that is part of two-team rotation for Skylanders, a multi-billion dollar franchise. I’m eager to see what they end up working on next.