Activision Reportedly Closes Bizarre and Budcat Studios [Update 2]

By Xav de Matos, Nov 16, 2010 10:55am PST [Update: 4:30pm] Regarding the rumors of a closure at Budcat Creations, Activision released the following statement to Shacknews:

We continue to streamline our music development resources to ensure that they are aligned against our slate and strategic goals. As a result, we are implementing a targeted reduction in jobs in our Quality Assurance team in California and closing our Budcat studio in Iowa. Budcat has been a great partner to Activision and has created a lasting impact on the Guitar Hero franchise.

Approximately 88 positions, or approximately 1% of our global workforce, will be impacted by these reductions. We are working to redirect those employees that are impacted to other parts of the company where possible, as well as offering them outplacement counseling services.

[Update: 12:58pm] Activision has released the following statement to Shacknews regarding the rumored closure of Bizarre Creations:

Over the past three years since our purchase of Bizarre Creations, the fundamentals of the racing genre have changed significantly. Although we made a substantial investment in creating a new IP, Blur, it did not find a commercial audience. Bizarre is a very talented team of developers, however, because of the broader economic factors impacting the market, we are exploring our options regarding the future of the studio, including a potential sale of the business.

We are still looking for word regarding Budcat Creations.

[Original Post] Rumors are swirling that Activision will close Bizarre Creations, the studio behind James Bond 007: Blood Stone, Blur, and Microsoft's Project Gotham Racing franchise.

The rumor began with a thread on NeoGAF that said "all 200 staff" at the Liverpool-based developer had been made redundant. According to a GiantBomb source, Bizarre Creations will be going through a "90-day consultation period, statutory redundancy." According to UK redundancy practices, employees must be given a 90-day notice from employers if a company is set to close its doors [via Joystiq].

VG247 claims "multiple sources" have told them that the studio will close, and will put 200 staff members out of work. Multiple tweets on the rumors have also been circulating.

Additionally, Iowa-based Budcat Creations--known for developing Wii and PS2 versions of the Guitar Hero games--is also rumored to be closing, according to "anonymous development sources" speaking with PC Gamer.

In late 2007, Activision purchased Bizarre Creations. At the time, the company had been working on Microsoft's racing series Project Gotham Racing and had become industry favorites for creating the Geometry Wars franchise.

Shacknews has contacted Activision for comment on the report but has yet to hear back at the time of publishing. [Ed. Note: Activision comment added to the top of this post.]

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  • Bizarre was pretty damn stupid to sell themselves to Activision-Blizzard. This is a studio that can shut down all its console development and they'd still be in the green. Because of Blizzard. Especially WoW. People are throwing $25 at Blizz to get a mount, $10 per pet to get pets, $15 per month for a subscription, $30 for a server transfer, $25 for a faction transfer, $25 for a race change. Plus Starcraft 2 divided into three pieces and upcoming Diablo 3.

    Kotick can shut down whatever he likes because owning these studios holds no accountability. Don't want to pay Infinity Ward owners their royalties and/or want to make a modern Call of Duty without their permission? Kick 'em out with trumped up charges of violation the year after they've delivered their product and disappear in a cloud of lawsuits. Want to effectively close down Raven Software? Reduce them to DLC duty. Want to shut down Red Octane and Bizarre after they didn't make a hit? Do it. And they did. I wonder how Neversoft is doing. I know Radical was downsized into oblivion after Prototype didn't become an immediate hit.

    None of it matters. Activision always has the Call of Duty, Guitar Hero, and Tony Hawk names. And even when one of those falters, they always have Blizzard to make them profitable. EA can't just go shutting down studios willy-nilly because soon they'd have no one making games. With Activision, they know they've always got Blizzard to prop them up, so they can buy and/or dump whatever they like, they'll still be making loads of money. The funniest part of this is that Activision effectively does not run Blizzard, so not only do they buy and crap away everything they got, but the one thing that keeps them propped up is not something they're responsible for.

    Blizzard should have gone on their own for a while longer. Then they'd have bought Activision cheap and kicked Kotick to the curb in favor of pushing their own franchises (and new franchises). As for Bizarre, well... when Bungie is being bought by Activision, I hope they know they won't be together for more than a year after their first "merely moderate success."