Vicarious Visions was founded in 1994 as an independent game development company located in Troy, New York, and led by President/CEO Karthik Bala. The company released its first title, Synnergist, a PC CD-ROM graphic adventure, in Europe in 1996. Dark Angel, a fantasy action-adventure, was released in Fall 1997 as the company's second title. Game development for console platforms began in about 1999.
The company was acquired by Activision in January 2005 and operated as a wholly-owned subsidiary. Vicarious Visions had a development studio located in Mountain View, California, which primarily developed handheld games. This studio employed about 25 people and was closed by Activision in June 2007.
For Activision, Vicarious Visions worked on many licensed games such as Shrek, Spider-Man and Kung Fu Panda. The studio also created titles in the Guitar Hero series, such as Guitar Hero: On Tour and the Wii version of Band Hero. In February 2011 Activision decided not to develop any more Guitar Hero or Tony Hawk games. According to the website Develop, the studio was working on a new Guitar Hero at the time. Develop's source states that closure was averted, but about 50 people were laid off, about a quarter of the workforce.
Later that month the new studio Play Eternal was announced, with former VV members such as Albert Vazquez and Brandon Van Slyk.