Bizarre boss ends silence on closure: 'There was a chance to buy it back'

Former MD recalls PGR dev's final moments

Three senior figures at PGR developer Bizarre Creations have ended their silence on the downfall of the shuttered studio, calling the events leading up to its closure "a perfect storm of unfortunate circumstances".

Bizarre sadly shut it doors in February after 17 years making games, and design manager and Blur lead Gareth Wilson - who's since joined Sumo Digital - told Edge the reason behind the decision was "way beyond my pay scale".

Edge 227 is out April 12

"If you want a personal opinion, though, I think it was a perfect storm of unfortunate circumstances," he told the mag in its latest issue. "If anything, the mistake we made was underestimating how difficult it was getting a new IP off the ground at this stage of the console cycle, especially in the racing space, which tends to perform better when a new console is launched."

On Blur's commercial disappointment, Wilson pointed some of the blame towards the lengthy delay which he said "messed up our marketing campaign and gave us a less-favourable release date."

It's clear from Edge's interview however that there were far deeper reasons behind the racer's commercial failure than just a slipped release date.

Former commercial director Sarah Chudley called Activision's unprecedented involvement in the game's development process - "from design meetings through feature choices, locations" and the name and branding - "a big change from what we'd seen in the past".

The switch to Activision ownership presented even deeper problems at the studio, former MD Martyn Chudley told Edge, as the Geometry Wars creator's famous family atmosphere quickly transformed into something more corporate.

"We weren't an independent studio making 'our' games anymore - we were making games to fill slots," he said. "Although we did believe in them, they were more the products of committees and analysts."

"I suppose it's a telling thing that in the last weeks, many people were saying they would never work anywhere like Bizarre again," Sarah Chudley added.

One of the more surprising revelations in the Edge piece is that Activision offered the former Bizarre MD the chance to buy back the studio.

He explained: "Without going into details, yes, there was [a chance to buy the studio back], but I personally thought that there was far greater potential for the security and well-being of the company if a third-party could come in. Sadly, this was not to be the case."

Sarah added: "In any case, Bizarre had grown even more since [Activision] took over, and we just don'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."

Edge issue 227 - which includes an exclusive look at Max Payne 3 - is on sale April 12 and with subscribers now. Buy it online and have it delivered to your door.

[ SOURCE: Edge ]