Ex-Bizarre exec says closure was result of "perfect storm"

But Wilson is philosophical about shuttering, "extremely proud" of achievements

Ex-Bizarre Creations lead designer Gareth Wilson has told press that the closure of the Activision studio was the result of a "perfect storm" of market and industry conditions.

Speaking exclusively to sister site Eurogamer, Wilson was pragmatic about the reasons for the closure, putting no blame on the Activision board for the actions it took.

"It was a perfect storm of unfortunate circumstances," he said. "The landscape of the industry has changed massively even in the time from when Bizarre was acquired. In particular getting a new IP noticed at this stage of the console cycle combined with the global economic situation meaning gamers are less willing to 'take a risk' is really difficult.

"It's not just Blur that didn't sell in 2010, great new IPs like Enslaved, Alan Wake and Vanquish have struggled to make to make an impact while Halo and Call of Duty have broken sales records.

"The release date probably didn't help," Wilson admitted, "but nowadays that 'middle ground' of two to three million sales is getting harder to find. Games either 'break out' and sell four million plus, or really struggle to break even. Also the quality bar has risen enormously. Did you know there were more 80 per cent plus rated games in 2010 than any other year?"

The process of searching for a buyer for Bizarre began in November, 2010 following the release and poor performance of 007: Bloodstone. Wilson insists that everything was handled correctly, sensitively and above board.

"When it was announced that Activision was looking to sell or close the studio the majority of people started looking around, obviously still hoping that a buyer could be found," Wilson told Eurogamer. "This wasn't clandestine at all, while the situation with the studio was unclear Activision allowed us time off to go for interviews and training.

"Now I can feel more philosophical about it, it was upsetting when it was announced back in November. As there was a three month consultation where a buyer was sought it's been more of a slow realisation over the weeks that followed that the studio was likely to close."

The PGR developer finally ceased trading last Friday, ending a sixteen year existence. Wilson was the first high-profile staff member to announce a new position: lead designer at SUMO Digital, where he hopes to "make 85 per cent plus rated games that reach a wide audience."

"As you'd expect I can't confirm or deny anything about the projects on the go at Sumo right now, but what I can say is the games Sumo are working on are some of the most exciting projects in the industry and a big reason why I joined Sumo over other studios."

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Latest comments (4)

Such an awesome studio, so sad to see it close. Best of luck to you guys!
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Greg Sewart Associate Producer, HB Studios5 years ago
One of my fave studios ever since F1 on the PS1. Good luck to all affected.
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Steven Pick Lead Graphic Designer, Atomhawk Design5 years ago
You can get Blur from Tesco for 14 now. You all have no excuse.
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Gregory Hommel writer 5 years ago
I am a monster of a Gran Turismo fan. No game could ever come close and I'll stick to that till I die. Although I played PGR 4 longer than I've ever played a game before. Unless you count buying upgrades in GT, but racing for sure. Sorry to see you go. I guess you guys saw it as a necessary step but I wonder if you regret selling your soul to the devil, Activision.
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