Bizarre founder: Activision eroded studio spirit

Bizarre founder: Activision eroded studio spirit

By Rob Crossley

April 7th 2011 at 10:39AM

Martyn and Sarah Chudley didnâ??t have finances to buy back the 200-person studio

The founder of abandoned studio Bizarre Creations has broken silence on the swift collapse of the longstanding Liverpool stronghold.

Martyn Chudley, who established Bizarre in 1995, told Edge that the studio’s culture had been tainted after publishing empire Activision acquired the group in 2007.

“I don’t think the studio’s atmosphere differed too much during the years before Activision,” Chudley told the magazine.

“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.”

Activision paid $67.4 million in cash for Bizarre in 2007, Develop understands.

Another $40 million was to be paid if certain sales milestones had been met, yet Activision put Bizarre up for sale in November last year, and closed it three months later.

Chudely, and his wife Sarah who worked at the studio to its last day, said they didn’t have the finances to realistically rescue the studio.

“Without going into details, yes, there was [an opportunity],” Martyn said, “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.”

Sarah added: “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. Martyn and I were always small-company people, which is why we stepped aside when we realised it needed big-company skills to manage.”

Despite promising interest in the Liverpool group during the three months it went on the market, no external company was willing to pay for the outfit.

Coddy Johnson, Activision Worldwide Studios’ chief operating officer, told Develop that interested parties decided instead to wait for the studio to close down so they could plunder staff.