Bizarre Creations Speaks Out On Activision Closure

by Matt Bertz on Apr 06, 2011 at 09:11 AM

In a candid interview with Edge magazine, members of the Bizarre Creations leadership team shed light on their move to Activision and the studio's subsequent closing.

The well-regarded studio behind Geometry Wars, Project Gotham Racing, and The Club had a difficult experience in transitioning from an independent studio to a publishing culture that emphasized a committee approach to game development.

“We were always proudly independent. However, when Activision took over, we really felt that they would leave our culture alone, and for a while it was fine, but slowly the feeling did start to change," says former creative director Martyn Chudley. “We weren’t an independent studio making ‘our’ games anymore – we were making games to fill slots. Although we did all believe in them, they were more the products of committees and analysts. The culture we’d worked on for so long gradually eroded just enough so that it wasn’t ‘ours’ anymore.”

The two projects the team took on for Activision, the racing game Blur and James Bond 007: Blood Stone, both failed to gain widespread acceptance. Blur reviewed relatively well, but consumers largely ignored the game. Chudley admits that the final product “failed to resonate with the games-buying was probably too tough to pigeonhole.” former design manager Gareth Wilson agrees, saying the studio erred in “underestimating how difficult it was to get a new IP off the ground at this stage of the console cycle.”

When Activision approached the team about closing the studio, they gave them the option to find a new owner or purchase the studio outright. "Without going into details, yes, there was [an opportunity],” Martyn tells Edge, “but I personally thought there was far greater potential for the security and well-being of the company if a third party could come in.”

“Bizarre had grown even more since [Activision] took over, and we just didn’t have the skills, capability or finances to look after over 200 people," commercial manager Sarah Chudley. "Martyn and I were always small company people, which is why we stepped aside when we realized it needed big-company skills to manage.”

Since the studio's closure last Feburary, many employees have created their own upstart studios, including Sumo Digital, Lucid, and Hogrocket.