In November, Activision revealed that it had given the employees of British studio Bizarre Creations 90 days' notice that it might close the facility. The move came following lackluster sales of the well-reviewed Blur, an all-new racing/car-combat title that debuted in late May. The Liverpool, England-based studio's latest game, James Bond 007: Blood Stone, also did not make much of a mark at retail, despite a positive critical reception.
Since giving the 90-day notice, Activision had been looking for a buyer for Bizarre Creations, which also developed the Project Gotham Racing series for Microsoft. However, Develop reports today that no deals could be struck and that Activision is now recommending the studio be shut down.
"[We] explored a lot of leads--pretty much anyone you can imagine in the industry. But unfortunately, so far we've not been able to find any interested parties. So we've made as a last resort, a recommendation to the team for closure," Coddy Johnson, Activision Worldwide Studios' chief operating officer, told Develop. "I want to be clear, our first choice was to try and keep this group together and find a buyer for the studio. This decision comes after a few months of exhausted examination of a number of different options across the board."
A US Activision rep offered the following statement: "Having explored a range of options, including a potential sale of the business, and consulted with the staff about the options, we now believe that the only likely option is to close Bizarre Creations....Bizarre has been a great partner to Activision and we thank them for all of their efforts."
The rep continued, "We are moving to individual consultation with each of the employees who are provisionally affected by this proposal. These employees are highly skilled. We shall be consulting with them about potential suitable alternative employment, including possible redeployment in other parts of the business within Activision Publishing. We will be offering a number of tools and resources, including outplacement counseling services, to those who are impacted and we will continue to consult with employees."
If Activision does close Bizarre Creations, it would mark the end of the studio's nearly 17-year run. Initially an independent operation, it was acquired by Activision in September 2007, after which it released Project Gotham Racing 4, Geometry Wars 2, and the two aforementioned games.