Raven Software Made History, Only For Activision To Say “You’re Tech Support Now”

Nothing stands a chance against the killer of studios.

Story Highlights

  • Raven Software, the FPS legend, has been reduced to a mere support studio by Activision.
  • From Hexen to Quake 4, Singularity to X-Men Origins: Wolverine, its gems speak for themselves.
  • Raven Software is but one of many studios whose future Activision crushed; it’s lamentable.

While browsing my classics collection to get my daily dose of nostalgia, I happened upon X-Men Legends 2: Rise of the Apocalypse. When I reached this legendary name, I just knew this was the one to boot up today. So, I went for it. Things were going well until the Raven Software logo came up. That’s when my excitement suddenly turned into grief.

A gaming industry icon responsible for many mindblowing gems only to be handicapped by Activision, join me as I try to shed some light on the extent of this loss.

YouTube video

The “id Software” Projects, Featuring Heretic

We begin this journey in 1990 when the name Raven Software appeared on this planet. It wasn’t until id Software discovered this boundless talent that its rise to prominence started.

Raven Software has its origins in working closely with id Software and using its game engine and even some IPs. This is where the legendary Heretic/Hexen franchise was born. This game series, utilizing the Doom engine and borrowing certain elements yet a completely distinct and magnificent experience is among my all-time favorites, and a cult-classic deserving mass applause.

Honestly of all the games on the Doom engine, Heretic’s my favorite.
byu/AndyanaBanana inretrogaming

Raven also developed Quake 4 and Wolfenstein for id Software down the line, but these are among the developer’s less-renowned works. However, it’s without a doubt that Heretic and the subsequent Hexen were a landmark in the classic FPS genre, towering icons of their time, and overwhelmingly entertaining games I’ll give anything to see return.

Will I ever get another Hexen? | Source: Steam
Will I ever get another Hexen? | Source: Steam

Raven Software, The Master Of FPS

Heretic was just the beginning of what would be Raven’s triumphant parade through the FPS landscape. Under the (unfortunate) Activision banner, the developer was responsible for quality first-person shooters one after the other.

The sliver I hope out of this deal is that Raven Software can go back to being an awesome AAA developer again and not just a support studio for maps and DLC. Hopefully once Phil takes over he can change a lot up about the structure over there.
by inxboxone

The extremely graphic and violent Soldiers of Fortune filled with a meaningful and engaging campaign and the iconic Jedi Knight series which stands among the best Star Wars shooters are just the opening act of my argument. Next is something that is a personal favorite and a highly underrated gem.

Jedi Knight is underrated | Source: Steam
Jedi Knight is underrated | Source: Steam

Imagine this. An old-school first-person shooter with horror elements, except you blow the tension away with wacky weaponry and time-travelling shenanigans. A shooter that discards logic in favor of a more entertaining power fantasy, and enables messing with time to show the foes whose boss. How does this sound? Fascinating and possibly addicting, right? That’s exactly what Singularity is.

Singularity: The game that went under the carpet.
byu/SIR_VELOCIRAPTOR inpatientgamers

A Little Superhero Goodness

Did you think Raven Software was only good for FPS games (and playing second fiddle)? Think again. Before its imprisonment, the developer was also responsible for some games that still make waves in the superhero domains.

As you’re aware, it’s been a long time since we’ve got a proper X-Men-themed game. The Wolverine one is on its way, but the series has stayed dormant in gaming for quite some time now. But there were two games vastly superior to the rest and outclassed all competition. And guess what? Both of the best X-Men games were by Raven Software.

The best X-Men game | Source: IMDB
The best X-Men game | Source: IMDB

These are none other than X-Men Legends 2 (and 1) and X-Men Origins Wolverine. The former is a party-action RPG with an immense roster, awe-inspiring level design, mind-blowing mechanical depth, and an unforgettable journey all around. Even Marvel’s Ultimate Alliance series based on this structure was pioneered by Raven. And X-Men Origins Wolverine? Need I even say anything about the best X-Men game ever?

Any of you play this OG game back in the day? Man, I loved the X Men Legends games.
byu/AdEfficient2209 inxmen

The Present — A Caged Raven

Finally, we come to the cruel reality and the eventual fate of this brilliant developer. It was Singularity where it all began. Activision wasn’t completely on board with it from the start, and when the underrated title was, well, underrated, overshadowed by stuff like Bioshock, Activision said “I told you so,” and stretched Raven Software extremely thin with all the layoffs. Afterward, the studio was shuttered to a supportive role.

The story of Raven Software
by ingaming

What was it supposed to support? What else? Call of Duty, Activision’s golden goose. Singularity was the last we saw Raven Software in control. Now, it’s just an assistant, forever bound to “help out” the big players in making Call of Duty even more of a profit machine.

Raven’s creativity can still be seen in some of the Call of Duty projects it aided in, and seeing this fills me with grief every time. What puzzles me is why Activision won’t allow Raven Software to develop a Call of Duty game in earnest. Considering the developer’s vast and solid experience in essentially shaping the FPS genre, why can’t Activision trust it with a solo project?

It makes me really sad that Raven Software, a company I knew for so long as a source for unique but usually very high quality games, is now relegated to assisting with Call of Duty development.
byu/Joyrock inGames

Raven Software Is But One Of Activision’s Many Victims

Alas, it is what it is. I still curse the day Raven Software fell into the nefarious paws of the company we call Activision, but that’s all I can do, nothing will change this grim reality. Besides, Raven Software is but one of the creative names Activision wiped from the face of the Earth. Countless studios that thrived perfectly suddenly died mysteriously upon getting admitted into this haunted house. 

Am I the only one sick of my favorite game studios being consumed by large corporations.
byu/Old-Win7318 indestiny2

The Half-Life publisher Sierra Entertainment, Web of Shadows’ dev Shaba Games, the racing expert Bizarre Creations, The Prototype legend Radical Entertainment; and countless more I may not be able to mention by name here, but their loss is no less lamentable. Activision really did a number on the industry with these cruel decisions.

All in all, Raven Software’s life has been an unfortunate one. From a rise to glory to being forced to live the “second fiddle” life which is an insult to its legacy, I sincerely hope things turn around for this hero.

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Hanzala is a dedicated writer who expresses his views as opinion pieces at eXputer. He's always been fascinated by gaming and has been an avid consumer of many different genres for over a decade. His passion for games has him eager to encounter the latest RPGs and actively look for new Soulslike to challenge. He puts forth his experience and knowledge of gaming into captivating opinion pieces.

Experience: 8+ months || Education: Bachelors in Chemistry.

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