Bizarre talks negative Activision influence
Plus, bosses discussed buying studio back.
Former Bizarre Creations senior staff have revealed how the now-defunct studio changed for the worse while under Activision ownership.
According to an Edge interview with creative director Martyn Chudley and his wife, commercial manager Sarah Chudley, the publisher slowly chipped away at the UK outfit's independent ethos and forced a development-by-committee approach upon them.
"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."
Former design manager Gareth Wilson added that the change in atmosphere was "just the reality of managing so many people. It's a challenge for any studio these days to make everyone on the team feel like they're really contributing to a game when there could be well over 100 people on a single game in production."
Bizarre closed its doors earlier this year following disappointing sales of its new racing IP Blur and James Bond 007: Blood Stone.
Elsewhere in the interview, Martyn Chuddley revealed that management was offered the opportunity to buy the studio back from Activision rather than shut up shop.
"Without going into details, yes, there was [an opportunity]," he explained, "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, 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," added Sarah Chuddley. "Martyn and I were always small-company people, which is why we stepped aside when we realised it needed big-company skills to manage."
So far, Bizarre's demise has spawned two new studios: Lucid Games, set up by senior manager Pete Wallace, and Hogrocket, set up by by Peter Collier (senior level designer on Blood Stone/The Club), Stephen Cakebread (creator of Geometry Wars) and Ben Ward (community manager).