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Activision Considers Sale Of  Blur  Dev Bizarre Creations, Puts Staff On Notice
Activision Considers Sale Of Blur Dev Bizarre Creations, Puts Staff On Notice
November 16, 2010 | By Kris Graft

November 16, 2010 | By Kris Graft
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Activision confirmed to Gamasutra on Tuesday that it is considering selling off Bizarre Creations, the UK-based developer that the megapublisher acquired in 2007.

"Over the past three years since our purchase of Bizarre Creations, the fundamentals of the racing genre have changed significantly," an Activision rep said in a statement. "Although we made a substantial investment in creating a new IP, Blur, it did not find a commercial audience."

The statement continued, "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."

The statement from Activision comes as rumors hit the web that 200 workers were let go from the Liverpool, England-based studio.

But the rep told Gamasutra that all Bizarre staff thus far have only received a 90-day notice that some type of restructuring or closure could take place, in accordance with UK labor laws.

It's possible that parent Activision could sell off Bizarre as a whole, shut it down, reduce the headcount or sell off its assets, among numerous other possibilities. Activision has yet to make public any firm decision.

Bizarre released the combat racing game Blur in May this year, and the console versions of action title James Bond 007: Blood Stone just this month. The company is also behind the Project Gotham Racing and Geometry Wars series.

The Liverpool-based developer formed as Bizarre Creations in 1994, although the studio's roots go back into the 1980s.


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Comments


Ujn Hunter
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Well to be honest... This should have been seen coming from a mile away... you take a top studio who makes their own original IPs and then you have them work on a crappy, licensed, cash grab... where else is there to go? It is sad but no one should be shocked.

Ujn Hunter
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Yes, I'm talking about James Bond not Blur. Also I know they were bought... I'm not using "takes" in that sense. I'm talking about having them work on a certain project. Activision is in charge, they took their studio and had them make 007 instead of something that might matter.

Rob Wright
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This is too bad. I have Blur and it's actually a very, very good racing game. It's like Bizarre took Mario Kart and combined it with Gran Turismo. It's the first racing game I've played consistently since Mario Kart 64. Activision should have promoted Blur more, and why they decided to put Bizarre on a shooter like Bloodstone and push two James Bond games out in the same week, I'll never know....

[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

sean lindskog
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It's sort of weird to critique a racing game for not being original. What sort of originality is it you expect exactly? It's a pretty well defined genre, and it's more about tweaking the vehicle physics, controls, and overall fun factor.

[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Lo Pan
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Interesting, this is usually how ATVI treats its Producers. One bad game = termination.

Best to those affected - find work soon.

Wolf Wozniak
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I just love that you bring "Big Trouble" to my Gama articles everyday.

Lo Pan
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Do you have green eyes? :-)

Ian Uniacke
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Unfortunately for Bizzare the majority of their games over the last few years have been flops, through no fault of their own even. The games seemed like high quality games but just didn't take off in the market. The Club, Blur, and Blood Stone was probably the clincher. I think it's sad, and I don't think Activision are saints by any stretch (quite the opposite I would say), but in this case any company would have to be fiscally responsible about the situation.

Kevin Patterson
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MS should buy them, and have them make the next PGR.

Matthew Mouras
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All the best to the talented folks on this team. If Activision can't find a way to help you develop your careers, here's hoping a company picks you up that better leverages what you guys bring to gaming. You deserve better.

Jeffrey Fleming
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I’m curious to know how the “fundamentals of the racing genre have changed significantly.” I suppose the fundamentals have changed if what seems like a solid (if perhaps a bit silly) racing game such as Blur, sells so poorly that the studio is in danger. But where is the racing genre going? Does anyone have any thoughts?

Daniel Boy
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If the duds Blur and Split/Second are any indication, there is not enough breathing room between GT (serious) and Mario Kart (fun). There might be a third pole "action", but Split/Second missed it. Let's wait until the sales numbers of the new Need for Speed and next Dirt come in.

Ian Uniacke
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@Daniel: I think you're right. Add to this that we have Need For Speed filling the "serious, but not so serious" category.



Also, even though Blur was a very interesting and innovative take on the genre, taking on Mario Kart just seems like suicide. Perhaps there is no need to compete with Mario Kart since it basically gives its players exactly what they want already.

Christopher Braithwaite
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If it were called Need for Speed: Blur we probably wouldn't be having this discussion. The racing genre is saturated with well established franchises (one of which Bizarre created) that cover a wide gamut of play styles. Blur and Split/Second which are both very good if not great games unfortunately showed us how many franchises the market would support.

David Rodriguez
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Don't forget a new Twisted Metal is in the works, I'm stoked for that one.

Lo Pan
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It actually would be interesting to watch the Need for Speed Hot Pursuit retail performance. If any game can have broad appeal to casual and hardcore it should be that game.

Mark Venturelli
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The Club and Blur are both good games. Blur sold well here in Brazil, as far as I am concerned. I had no idea it underperfomed globally, which is a shame.



Blood Stone, on the other hand...



Anyway, I think it's a bit trollish even for ATVI standards to announce something like that. Bizarre guys must be feeling like crap now. Maybe they wanted a quick and cheap way to find out how much the market would pay for Bizarre? Not good news, nonetheless.

Amir Sharar
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"Over the past three years since our purchase of Bizarre Creations, the fundamentals of the racing genre have changed significantly," an Activision rep said in a statement.



That is perhaps a poor choice of words. Perhaps he was meaning that the racing genre's market has changed, or maybe I'm misinterpreting his words to mean, "the racing genre doesn't hold the same appeal as it has.".



During the last year we have seen a high number of high quality racers spanning all sorts of sub-genres. We have seen great sims (FM3, Supercar Challenge, GT5 soon), great sim-arcade (NFS:Shift, DiRT 2, MX vs. ATV Reflex, F1 2010, WRC), great arcade games (Blur, Split/Second, Mario Kart Wii, Sonic and SEGA All Stars Racing, Modnation Racers)...the racing genre is full of high quality titles, perhaps a saturated market at this point.



Due to this competition, sales of high quality titles can suffer. Consumers are more picky, cannot support that many titles, and marketing plays a bigger role in raising the profile of one quality racer over another.



Clearly the market itself has changed with this saturation, rather than the appeal of the genre itself (which is what the wording seems to imply). Maybe he was meaning exactly what I am stating now...thus it is possible it was a poor choice of words.

Michael Joseph
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At least they get 90 days notice.... you don't see that everywhere...

John Mickey
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Don't give Activision credit for that one. British law requires it. If Bizarre Creations was American company they'd be in the soup kitchens already.

gus one
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30 days for redundancy notice actually. I am surprised at the 90 days comment. Companies in the UK can close the next day if they want to. There's no requirement to stay open and continue losing money. It's not like France.

Christopher Enderle
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Notice how ATVI gives Bizarre, as it's in the UK an ample heads up on their company's future, whereas in the US Budcat employees find out the day of. ATVI isn't doing Bizarre a favor, they're just following the law so they don't have to deal with more costly fines. If developers in the US want the same courtesy they need to vote in their best interest, not in the best interest of their bosses.

Kris Graft
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Just based on what I've looked up, I believe that it's 30 days for companies where it's possible that 20-99 employees could be made redundant, 90 for 100-plus.

Derek Hartin
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Ooof. My first games industry interview was with BC and they were lovely folk. Good luck to everyone up there. Forget the politics and the finger pointing; this will just be a sad loss for the industry. With things as they are in the UK, having one of our better studios close is ominous.

Ethan Larson
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What a shame. Blur is excellent. I don't by many disc games these days, because they go unplayed with all the quality games on the PSN. But Blur was well worth the full-price purchase. I've know the Chudley ethos since The Killing Gameshow, and was glad I could still get stuff from his studio. I hope something good happens. Even if it's MS buying them and I don't get to buy their games anymore (PS3/Mac gamer).

jonas hart
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its bizzarre the company has lasted this long if you ask me, but the company isnt run by hardcore gamers and it shows in the games they make, there crap.


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