Bizarre Creations Shutting Their Doors on Friday
The developers behind such projects as Project Gotham Racing and the much under-appreciated Blur are being closed down by Activision, not sold.
It’s always a sad day to hear about a studio closure, and today is no different. It has been known for the past few weeks that Activision was seeking to sell or close down Bizarre Creations, of whom they acquired back in 2007 after they parted ways with Microsoft.
Before coming on to Activision, Bizarre Creations were most known for their work on the highly acclaimed Xbox-exclusive racing franchise Project Gotham Racing. Have been part of both the Xbox and Xbox 360 launch lineup, Bizarre delivered four titles in the esteemed franchise that has been rumored for a fifth iteration for some time now.
Bizarre also helped launched the Xbox Live Arcade alongside the Xbox 360 with the solo release of Geometry Wars, a once mini-game that came exclusively with PGR. Geometry Wars is iconic in the industry for having helped bring to mainstream the ideal of dual analog stick arcade shooters. Such games as Everyday Shooter, Zombie Apocalypse, and Blast Factor all came to life under the influence of Geometry Wars.
Bizarre’s first step outside of PGR and Geometry Wars was with their 2007 sleeper hit, The Club of which Sega published. From my personal standpoint – to this day The Club remains to be one of my most preferred arcade shooters on consoles but it was a tough game to market at a price of $59.99. I highly recommend picking it up as you can find copies for under $20 all over the web.
Bizarre’s first creation with Activision returned them back into the world of racing. While having influences from Project Gotham Racing, Bizarre’s 2010 release of Blur was one of the more under-appreciated releases of the year. Activision had decided to release the title up against two other new racing IPs – Split/Second from Disney Interactive and ModNation Racers from SCEA. Blur has faced a tough slate with future game of the year nominee Red Dead Redemption releasing just one week prior.
Blur combined the arcade style racing of PGR minus the beloved kudos system and mixed in the car combat stylings of Mario Kart. Players would race against each other, picking up weapons and abilities to fight their way against the pack in on and offline mayhem. Unfortunately the game received poor reception despite above average reviews. Accomodating the earlier mentioned poor release window, Blur has received very low to no marketing supporting from Activision.
This would be proved further later that year in what has become Bizarre’s final studio release, 007: Blood Stone. Activision acquired the James Bond license from EA in years prior but only churned out one game – the 2008 tie in the 007: Quantum of Solace (Treyarch developed it). Blood Stone was the first non-movie based James Bond since 2004′s Everything or Nothing.
Once again for Bizarre, Blood Stone faced a harsh release window – this time facing competition from Activision themselves. Just one week later after Blood Stone came out, Call of Duty: Black Ops launched to become the best selling piece of interactive media in history. The questions were once again asked, why did they release the game so close to a blockbuster title, this time being one of their own?
Blood Stone went on to above average reviews, but like Blur before it received very little marketing support from Activision. Personally, Activision missed the boat on this. James Bond as a movie franchise was in a hiatus. With Bond fans being deprived of a new Bond flick, some would turn to video games to fill in the waiting gap. Blood Stone was the perfect opportunity, though it seems all of Activision’s priorities were on the launch of Black Ops.
In early 2011 rumors began to surface of Bizarre’s possible closure, but Activision came out and stated they were interesting in selling the studio. It is now confirmed that Activision will be closing down Bizarre Creations this Friday. There has been no official word of what is to become of the online servers for both Blur and Blood Stone. Unfortunately as much as we believe that video games are entertainment, we must remember it is a business and like any other business practices, closures do and will happen. Activision may have come under much scrutiny the past few years but let us remember that it was just years ago we painted the face of evil on EA until Activision merged with World of Warcraft developer Blizzard. It seems whichever publisher is on top, the gamers will hate with a passion.
For fans of Bizarre, make Friday a Bizarre day. Boot up your copies of Blur and PGR4, or whichever Bizarre titles you want. Give the house of Geometry Wars one final hour of glory.
R.I.P. Bizarre Creations 1994-2011