Well, officially it's "recommends closure," but let's not beat around the ruining-people's-livelihoods bush here. Back in December, word arrived that Activision wanted to wash its hands of UK studio Bizarre Creations, the bunch behind Project Gotham Racing, Geometry Wars, The Club, Blur and 007: Bloodstone. While at the time that sounded an awful lot like shutting its still-recent (2007) acquisition down, they stressed that if they could find a buyer all may yet be well.
They didn't find a buyer (or at least not one who offered enough, presumably). All is not well.
Activision exec Coddy 'The Body' Johnson (that nickname is, I stress, entirely fabricated by me, but c'mon - I couldn't not type it once it had occurred to me) to Develop today that Activision had “explored a lot of leads – pretty much anyone you can imagine in the industry.
“But unfortunately, so far we’ve not been able to find any interested parties. So we’ve made as a last resort, a recommendation to the team for closure... I want to be clear, our first choice was to try and keep this group together and find a buyer for the studio."
It's not their fault at all! It's all those naughty other companies who selfishly didn't come and wave big cheques at them!
In fact, Activision have been incredibly considerate and lovely about the whole thing. I mean, get this:
“We of course care about this team. We’re offering the studio as many resources as possible, including counselling, external placement services and external career fairs.”
Right. Except "as many resources as possible" would surely also include "not shutting down a studio you can blatantly afford to keep open."
It's easy to jump to angry conclusions, but who knows what truths will yet out. Certainly, there's much we don't know yet. But is there really any fact or justification out there which can make us accept that a company which recently released the fastest-selling videogame of all time (Black Ops netting over $650 million in its first five days on sale alone) doesn't have enough money to keep Bizarre going? And for heaven's sake don't look to Bloodstone as proof Bizarre are no good. I don't for one second believe that was a game Bizarre chose to make.
It's all about the bottom line, I'm sure. Bizarre have two recent quasi-flops on their hands in Blur and Bloodstone, plus there's Bobby Kotick's recent intimations that he wasn't super-interested in making games in the UK unless there were government incentives to do so. That's business.
Business is, in every sense of the word, bad.