Why Closing Bizarre Creations Is The Right Decision
Sometimes, working in this job puts me on a difficult knife-edge. By putting my honest opinion into words here, I may seem callous, but I always feel there’s room for debate, no matter how touchy the subject matter. On the one hand, I can understand the indignation from long-time fans of the studio – I am one of them and will be sorry to see it dissolved if that is its fate. Should Activision close it – or ‘restructure’ it – it will be missed, but will any of us really be missing them for Blur or 007: Blood Stone? It’s this question we need to ask ourselves before poking the finger at Activision.
I don’t feel I need to tell you that videogames are a business, and the studio has put out two lukewarm received games on the trot. If you place yourself for one minute in the big chair at Activision, could you honestly justify charitably sponsoring a loss-making arm of your business? What about the other arms? The ones that through their own innovation, foresight and talent are just about breaking even, or the ones which are thriving? Is it fair that they should suffer because of one part of the business making bad decisions? No, I don’t think so.
Whichever way you slice it, there are reasons to call unfair on both sides. Sure Bizarre is a towering talent, it has proved that in the past, but Blur showed us that there is a lot more to making successful, profit-making games than simply ensuring that they’re very good. Just take a look at Enslaved, Vanquish and others; fantastic games which have sold naff-all. Part of being a successful studio is having good horse sense. It’s about starting a two-year project at a time when you’re sure it will score a bullseye with the gaming public upon release. Bizarre, despite making good games, has proven that this is not something it is particularly good at, so why should Activision continue to fund the – at least two – projects the studio is now working on? It would be throwing good money after bad.
I’m sick and tired of reading all this negativity about Activision when for the most part, it is not to blame. It’s like blaming the apathetic gamers who didn’t buy Blur, yet are now “Up in arms” over the studio’s closure. Ultimately, if you don’t support something, it will die, but why should you buy something you don’t want to play? Activision has supported Bizarre unequivocally over the last couple of years, throwing the entire weight of its primetime TV-consuming marketing budget at Blur, and appears to have allowed the studio a large amount of creative autonomy. They too have the right not to support something that no one wants to play.
Of course, my heart goes out to its employees should Bizarre close, but going on Activision’s previous form – you may remember it came to the aid of Realtime Worlds – there most likely won’t be a lot of people out of work as a result. Activision recognises that there is talent there and won’t be keen to see it jump ship.
Bizarre Creations didn’t cut the mustard and Activision will do what it has to. So I implore the public to stop labelling the giant as some green-eyed monster. In a market where even the biggest publishers are announcing staggering losses (Ubisoft some 90m Euros reportedly, as of yesterday), publishers need to nip them in the bud or slowly drown. Believe it or not, that is for the benefit of us all.