According to excerpts from a soon-to-be-published Edge interview with former Bizarre Creations creative director Martyn Chudley, commercial manager Sarah Chudley, and former design manager Gareth Wilson, company leaders had the opportunity to buy back Bizarre Creations back from Activision. Now at Sumo Digital, the trio talk about the last days of the studio responsible for Project Gotham Racing and Blur. Activision shut down Bizarre Creations in February of this year after a three-month search for a buyer.
"I don’t think the atmosphere differed too much during the years before Activision," said Martyn Chudley. "We were always proudly independent. However, when Activision took over, 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. 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 the products of committees and analysts. The culture we’d worked on for so long gradually eroded just enough so that it wasn’t 'ours' anymore."
Wilson went on to say that that change in atmosphere was "just the reality of managing so many people" and that it is always a challenge for any studio to make everyone on the team feel like they’re really contributing to a game when there are well over 100 people on a single game in production.
Martyn Chudley also admitted that the final version of Blur "failed to resonate with the games-buying public." Wilson agrees, saying that the studio underestimated "how difficult it was to get a new IP off the ground at this stage of the console cycle."
But the most interesting information to come out of the interview is that Activision offered the studio back to its founders, who declined the offer.
"Without going into details, yes, there was [an opportunity]," Martyn explains, "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."
"In any case," Sarah adds, "Bizarre had grown even more since [Activision] took over, and we just didn’t have the skills, capability or finances to look after over 200 people. Martyn and I were always small-company people, which is why we stepped aside when we realised it needed big-company skills to manage."
The full interview is set to go live April 12 in Edge Issue 227.