According to Develop, Bizarre Creations will close on Friday, February 18. The Liverpool, UK-based studio was founded in 1994, and created over 20 games including Formula 1 ’97, Metropolis Street Racer for Dreamcast, several Project Gotham Racing 1 – 4, Geometry Wars, The Club, and Blur.
In 2007 the studio lost its independence when it was acquired by Activision. In a forum post on the developer’s website (no longer available) at the time Bizarre staff members described Activision’s buyout optimistically:
"Bizarre isn’t a developer in financial trouble, and we’re certainly not looking to be ‘saved’ by a bigger corporation," the post read. "We’re a dev looking to take our games to the next level, and make the absolute best products we can possibly make. Likewise, Activision is not in the business of ‘buying out’ struggling developers either."
The staff posting went on to say that Bizarre would maintain "creative control."
the first game produced under the Activision was Blur, but bad release timing (Blackrock Studios’ Split/Second and Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption were released at around the same time) hurt game sales. While Blur was not Bizarre’s last game under Activision’s watchful eye, it certainly marked the beginning of the company’s decline as a successful studio.
In November 2010 Activision announced that it was trying to sell the studio but no clear buyer ever materialized. As the studio’s future hung in the balance, the video game industry opted to pick off the company’s 200 developers instead of saving Bizarre – because hiring away developers was a cheaper option. Earlier this year the company announced that it had accepted Activision’s recommendation that the studio should be closed.
It’s a shame, and though former staff at Bizarre probably wouldn’t say it, a cautionary tale on the perils of being a acquired by a major publisher. Nevertheless, Bizarre Creations leaves behind a rich legacy of games that have touched the hearts of gamers around the world; from creating some of the most popular racing games ever imagined to its wonderful series of stylized arcade shooters, Bizarre has created some of the most memorable games in 17 year history.