Activision makes Bizarre acquisition

Santa Monica-based publisher acquires Project Gotham Racing indie developer as part of "ongoing strategy to enter new genres."

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At the 2006 Electronic Entertainment Expo, Activision surprised the industry by announcing its acquisition of Guitar Hero publisher RedOctane. The buyout proved more than fruitful, with Guitar Hero II selling more then a million copies in the US alone. Today, Activision set its sights on the racing genre, announcing its acquisition of Bizarre Creations, developer of the popular Project Gotham Racing series.

Previously, the Santa Monica-based publisher has only ventured into the racing genre twice, with middling success. In 2002, Activision released Wreckless: The Yakuza Missions on the Xbox, PlayStation 2, and GameCube. In 2004, the publisher put out MTX Mototrax on the Xbox and PS2, with a PlayStation Portable version following in 2006.

Bizarre Creations, on the other hand, has been in the racing business for more than 10 years. Debuting with Formula 1 on the original PlayStation in 1997, the independent developer first made a name for itself with Project Gotham Racing on the Xbox in 2001. The fourth iteration in the Microsoft-exclusive street racing series is set to hit store shelves next week. Bizarre Creations has two other projects currently in development: Geometry Wars: Galaxies for later this year on the Wii and Nintendo DS, and The Club for the PS3 and Xbox 360, which is slated for next February.

While the terms of today's deal were not disclosed, Activision said that Bizarre Creations is now a wholly owned subsidiary of the company and that Bizarre's management team and employees would continue working on its current projects.

Expressing enthusiasm for the acquisition, Activision CEO and chairman Robert Kotick said, "Bizarre Creations is the leading independent developer with a proven track record in developing highly successful and influential original properties, especially in the racing field. They are one of the most innovative and creative studios in the industry, and we are very excited to welcome this talented creative team to Activision."

As for what the deal means to Bizarre Creations, a posting on the company's Web site assures its fans that it will be business as usual for the studio--with one big exception. "Our future titles can be on whatever we please--we are a truly multiplatform studio now," the company said. Bizarre also said that it would soon begin work on two games for Activision, a racing game and a "character game," with its first offering to arrive in 2009.

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