Bizarre was given option to buy itself back

Three former Bizarre Creations senior staff open up about their studio's untimely demise, how the culture changed under Activision, and how they could have bought themselves back.

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Former Bizarre Creations senior staffers have opened up about their studio's untimely demise, reports Edge. They talked about how their culture changed under Activision, and how they had the opportunity to buy themselves back.

Former creative director Martyn Chudley recalls a change in the atmosphere once Activision bought the company. "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," he said. "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 products of committee and analysts." He concedes that Blur "failed to resonate" and called it "too tough to pigeonhole."

Gareth Wilson, former design manager, said the culture changed partly because of the staff size. "It's a challenge for any studio these days to make everyone on the team feel like they're really contributing to a game when there could be well over 100 people on a single game in production," he said.

Also telling, is the fact that Bizarre was given the chance to buy itself back, but declined. "Without going into details, yes, there was [an opportunity]," said Chudley, "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."

Sarah Chudley, Martyn's wife and the company's former commercial manager, suggests they turned the offer down because they "didn't have the skills, capability or finances to look after 200 people. Martyn and I were always small-company people, which is why we stepped aside when we realized it needed big-company skills to manage."

Some Bizarre staffers have gone on to make their own new studios, including Lucid Games and Hogrocket.

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From The Chatty
  • reply
    April 6, 2011 12:15 PM

    Comment on Bizarre was given option to buy itself back, by Steve Watts.

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      April 6, 2011 12:22 PM

      It's kind of sad that they didn't, but I guess I understand after all the studio had been through.

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        April 6, 2011 12:30 PM

        I'm surprised they were actually so up front. they "didn't have the skills, capability or finances to look after 200 people. Martyn and I were always small-company people, which is why we stepped aside when we realized it needed big-company skills to manage." That's something I'd never thought I'd hear management admit.

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          April 6, 2011 12:35 PM

          Happens all the time from start-ups, it's one of the biggest reasons they sell out/hire a CEO.

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      April 6, 2011 12:30 PM

      For a second there I was sure that said Blizzard instead of Bizarre and got excited.

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        April 6, 2011 12:37 PM

        Same. How weird.

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        April 6, 2011 6:53 PM

        It had me for at least 20 seconds until I read further into the article, haha

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        April 6, 2011 11:07 PM

        Meh, a couple years Blizzard will be all that's left of Activision.

    • reply
      April 6, 2011 12:34 PM

      Summary: Three former Bizarre Creations senior staff open up about their studio's untimely demise, how the culture changed under Activision, and how they could have bought themselves back.

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      April 6, 2011 7:18 PM

      Oh too bad. I thought blur was not bad.

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      April 6, 2011 7:59 PM

      No surprise. It was bloated by Activision who hoped to make a sweatshop out of them. It didn't work. Then when the bloated dying body of what was once a great developer was gasping for its last breath, Activision says, "Hey, we screwed you up, but here, we'll sell you for more money than we originally paid."

      And the people involved decided that it'd be better to start anew than try and overcome all the crap that was left over from Activision's meddling. So I say, no surprise.

      I hope this is a lesson to all who try and work with Activision when they promise they won't interfere with a developer's culture. Yah, that means you, Bungie. Better hope your next game is as big a hit as Halo. I suspect your new taskmaster will not be as nice as Microsoft if your next game turns out to be another Oni. Else, those nasty fine print statements in your super contract are going to sneak up and drag you down the path that Bizarre, Radical, Neversoft, etc all were dragged down.

      A path that winds down the mountains around a river where all the bodies of used up developers are tossed when Kotick's done with them.

      Wait. Do you hear that? I think I'm hearing an orc screaming as it's being dragged down there right now. Kotick's got another sap on the way down...

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        April 6, 2011 8:06 PM

        Activision don't have control over bungie or even own the IP of their games so it's more like EA partners and valve, which has worked really well.