Ex-senior staffers at Bizarre Creations say the studio’s independent culture vanished once Activision took over.
After Bizarre Creations closed its doors on Feb. 18, many blamed a perfect storm of unforgiving industry conditions and failed IP experimentation. However, Bizarre’s former creative director Martyn Chudley says that Activision played a much larger role in the studio’s eventual demise.
According to Martyn, Activision had taken control of a studio that was “proudly independent,” and Bizarre was hoping that it would be business as usual after the acquisition. As time passed, unfortunately, the “culture” of independence started to erode.
“We weren’t an independent studio making ‘our’ games anymore – we were making games to fill slots,” he said. “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.”
Interestingly, Activision gave Bizarre the opportunity to buy itself back during the three-month search for a buyer, but Sarah Chudley, Martyn’s wife and the former financial manager at Bizarre, says that option simply wasn’t viable.
“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,” she said. “Martyn and I were always small-company people, which is why we stepped aside when we realised it needed big-company skills to manage.”
It’s yet more evidence that gaming can be an unusually cutthroat industry. Blur seemed like a natural project for the studio that made the Project Gotham Racing, but it’s tough to recreate a hit when you’re working in a different corporate culture.