This is a pretty sad story for the videogame industry. Bizarre Creations used to be an independent company which has developed a number of great and popular games, especially in the racing genre over many years. Their first major game was the Formula 1 game in 1996. Psygnosis put great faith in a very small and unproven team by giving them a huge license to deal with. It was a great success and was the highest selling game in Europe in 1996.
Since then, they’ve been known for the Metropolis Street Racer game and the unofficial follow ups called Project Gotham Racing, which were all for Xbox consoles. All were popular and did well commercially. There were 4 titles in that series.
One series that is still a fan favourite, especially with early Xbox 360 adopters is Geometry Wars. It first appeared on the 360 at or near after launch and due to the lack of great retail launch games, it was played extensively during that launch period. It spawned a sequal which was also well received as well as multiple spin-offs for Nintendo consoles Wii and DS as well as iOS devices.
After their buyout by Activision, which severed their ties to the PGR series and Microsoft Game Studios, things went downhill. Although Geometry Wars was still popular, it didn’t do as well on other platforms as it had on Xbox live arcade and Blur wasn’t a great success. The game looked great and was unique in that it took elements of PGR, Mario Kart and WipeOut style weapons systems and brought them all together. Unfortunately it didn’t sell as well as hoped and presumably this is what has led to Activision wanting to close the studio.
Obviously it’s easy to look back now and say that they should have stayed independent and taken less risks, but I suppose staying independant of a huge publisher such as Activision could also be seen as a risk in itself. I wish the guys from the studio the best of luck whatever happens and I hope they reform under a new name to continue to innovate in the industry. They have a pretty terrible name and logo anyway so it’s a nice chance for a new start.