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Bizarre Creations: 'Perfect Storm' Led To Studio Closure
Bizarre Creations: 'Perfect Storm' Led To Studio Closure
February 24, 2011 | By Mike Rose

February 24, 2011 | By Mike Rose
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More: Console/PC



Ex-Bizarre design manager Gareth Wilson has said that the closing of the Blur and Project Gotham Racing developer was due to "a perfect storm of unfortunate circumstances".

Activision announced last month that it was closing the wholly-owned Bizarre Creations studio. Activision Worldwide Studios COO Coddy Johnson said at the time, "This decision comes after a few months of exhausted examination of a number of different options across the board."

Speaking with Eurogamer, Gareth Wilson discussed in more detail why Activision chose to shut down the studio. Wilson said, "It was a perfect storm of unfortunate circumstances. The landscape of the industry has changed massively even in the time from when Bizarre was acquired."

"In particular getting a new IP noticed at this stage of the console cycle combined with the global economic situation meaning gamers are less willing to 'take a risk' is really difficult."

The studio's final game, racing title Blur, "did not find a commercial audience," and Wilson believes the release date for the game was a factor.

"The release date probably didn't help" he noted. "But nowadays that 'middle ground' of 2-3 million sales is getting harder to find."

"Games either 'break out' and sell 4 million-plus, or really struggle to break even. Also the quality bar has risen enormously. Did you know there were more 80 percent plus rated games in 2010 than any other year?"

Wilson also said Blur wasn't the only new IP to struggle in 2010, as Ninja Theory's Enslaved, Remedy's Alan Wake and Platinum Games' Vanquish were all critically well-received games that "didn't sell well."

Bizarre Creations was founded in 1994 and specialized primarily in racing games, including Metropolis Street Racer, Project Gotham Racing and the previously mentioned Blur.


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Comments


Carlo Delallana
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Activision went on a binge and started gobbling up studios. Them biting off more than they can chew plus the changing landscape had a ripple effect on the franchises and studios they purchased along the way.



One thing we may never know for sure; if Bizzare remained independent could they have stayed in business longer? Would they have had more options to approach other partners? Could I be playing PGR5 right now?

Oliver Godfreed
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"Ninja Theory's Enslaved, Remedy's Alan Wake and Platinum Games' Vanquish were all critically well-received games that "didn't sell well.""



It's a shame that studios can produce great games but not be rewarded for it.

Eric Geer
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I would say all three of these games had super poor timing.



Castlevania Vs Enslaved



Red Dead Vs Alan Wake



Fallout:NV Vs Vanquish.



Its been a real hectic year for gaming..but I feel that releasing alongside big IPs had a lot to do with games not getting the attention they deserved.

Jeffrey Crenshaw
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What I think is a shame is that, for whatever reasons, games are only able to sell shortly after they come out. As if the game is somehow less fun six months later. If we didn't have such a hype-driven, trend following society, good games could come out as soon as they are ready and have evergreen sales until everyone that would be interested has purchased it.

hitman eidos
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I have not played Project Gotham Racing, but any studio that made Blur deserve to be closed down. It was an awful game and I don't think releasing it at a different time would have helped.

Banksy One
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Lol, i havent played it, but i remember people saying it was like Wipeout with cars. I remember seeing the Dev diaries and it looked average, no destructible environments, no memorable characters to speak of, no car damage. Racing game studious seem to be falling by the wayside, first it was the Midnight Club team, not its Bizarre. Not that i mind, most racing games are boring as shit. Cant wait til JAffe and Campbell deliver Twisted Metal though, it will look good next to my copy of Dirt 2 (which rocks btw).

Jason Hughes
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Console developers are dying because there aren't enough gamers buying enough games to support the costs. Simple as that. Either they need to make games more cheaply, or get more gamers to buy (the corollary is to produce fewer games).



Meanwhile, social networks produce more revenue for their (relatively unimpressive) games than a lot of successful console games. That tells me the audience for consoles is shrinking relative to social games. You can also interpret that as the market expanding, but I think that's overly optimistic. I think a lot of console gamers have given up on consoles due to the up-front expense of games and short duration of gameplay, and only buy the titles that really grab their attention.

Eric Geer
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"(the corollary is to produce fewer games)"



I think this is the key to it all. There needs to be fewer, better quality games....I can't even get halfway through the majority of one game before a new group of games comes out...generally to be forgotten or surpassed by the next group of anticipated games. This happend with Vanquish for me....still haven't had a chance to pick it up because other games of more interest came out....but I loved every second of the demo...its just that there are too many games and generally not enough time to play them...also with a shrinking buying budget its just not possible.



Fewer stronger titles would be how I would deal with this situation. It's kind of like how I go to the movie theatres now. There are so many movies that come out..but due to the high cost of seeing them in theatres I only wait for the ones that I really really would like to see on big screen(think new) everything else can wait for a rental/netflix(think pricedrop/used/neverplay). The market is just full..and people just don't have the time or money to shovel out for everything that comes out.



In my view its a loss for the devs and a loss for the consumer....devs don't make money and consumers don't get to experience half of the games on the shelves. If devs/publishers decrease output as a whole industry/increase value of each experience...then maybe the anticipation/demand will increase to a level unseen since the Wii disappeared off the shelves for 2 years(06-08) like a phantom system.

Sting Newman
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The real issue is that the whole industry is in the shitter, how game developers cannot realize they've hung themselves is disturbing.



Here is the real issue: Post PS2/Xbox/Gamecube, developers have reached a scalability limit. This means only staid franchises succeed or new IP's with a tonne of money thrown behind them with mass market mechanics (FPS).



Next is game quality has been going down while AVERAGE GAME REVIEW QUALITY has been going down. I haven't seen such worthless time in game reviewing in all my life, I see utter garabage (metroid other M) rake in 70-80+? Are you serious? Lots of games get high scores that simply don't deserve it.



Right now the entire industry is in a serious slump except for developers that can hit grand slams (i.e. deadspace) I thoroughly enjoyed Deadspace 2 even though it was a standard FPS because the game itself was so well made.



The real issue is that too few resources are spent on ambitions that cannot be achieved with those resources and games suffer immensely for it.

Eric Geer
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"I see utter garabage (metroid other M) rake in 70-80+?"

--Opinion...I loved the game.

Sting Newman
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@eric



The game had horrible user scores, a metacritic of 79 and user score of 7.4 is awful for a first party game.

Banksy One
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Havent played Metroid other M, but looking at Gameplay vids it seemed a bit stiff on the controls, and switching to First Person didn't look as easy or fluid as in the Prime series. Ill have to give it a go sometime though. Dead Space 2 wasn't as well made as the original. There were too many scenarios where fighting was unavoidable through cheap locked door methods, doors which miraculously opened after you defeated the room full of enemies.

Eric Geer
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The problem with metacritic is that it is an average. An average doesn't truly weigh in on the dichotomy of scores and the narrative basis. The last time I looked---other M had scores ranging...for critics 50 to 91...while user range is 0 to 10. But on either side...a majority of the scores were positive...so its the outlying trolls(who contributed 0s) that really drove the score down.



I never even bother to look at metacritic unless I read a majority of the reviews and comments left by the users...



Generally the negative users include a 0 and say something like "THIS GAME SUCKS" So the scores end up being skewed by overly demeaning trolls that know that game is not a 0 but place it at a 0 because it did not meet their expectations.

Paul Lazenby
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@ Carlo -

I really don't think that ATVI was on a buying binge anymore than EA or others were. The bottomline is that the games BC made did not sell. The blame for that can go multiple directions but, at the end of the day, you've got to make money. And ATVI prefers you make a lot of money.

I really don't feel bad for these guys, they made the decision to be acquired and it didn't work out.

And yes Christian, 2-3 million is barely the middle ground. The gaming market is way broader than last generation and more expensive to develop for. There is nothing wrong with indie titles when you're working for smaller studios with minimal OH, but that was most certainly not BC.


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