Nick's Gaming Blog

Development Studios Shut Down (My Fault?)

Yes, this is their logo. No, I have no freakin' idea what the pumpkin has to do with anything.

Today was “just one of those days when you don’t wanna wake up,” as the great poet Limp Bizkit so pithily phrased it.  Why?  Well, Activision told Bizarre Creations that they needed to go stand in the corner and think long and hard about their lack of sales.  For those who don’t remember Bizarre “jumped ship” after providing Microsoft Game Studios with its “cash cow” known as Project Gotham Racing (Batmobile not included, much to my initial dismay) as well as the profanity-inducing, controller-flinging, home-wrecking masterpiece that was Geometry Wars.  Understandably, they caught Activision’s eye (just envision the Eye of Mordor) and were brought on board to do two simple things: create a new arcade racing IP in the “flashy, power-up-y vein of Mario Kart with licensed automobiles, and create the next James Bond game, with an emphasis on Aston Martin racing.  Personally, I found Treyarch’s Quantum of Solace tie-in to be fine, if a little short, but when they got tied up with Call of Duty: Franchise Whoreage Black Ops, somebody new had to be brought on board.

You probably remember that new IP of theirs, Blur?  Despite being critically acclaimed (if perhaps just a wee bit underwhelming), Blur only sold 31, 000 copies in its first five days (that’s bad, by the way).  You also might have remembered their fairly extensive (and, to add another “-ive” adjective on top of that, expensive) ad campaign that parodied its Nintendo predecessor.  Blood Stone, the “latest and greatest” Double-Oh-7 game, probably doesn’t ring any proverbial bells, however.  That’s because its ad campaign consisted of a handful of press releases that stated in a droll fashion that “We have a game coming out.”  C’mon Activision, in the past decade you’ve convinced stupid children (yes, I recognize “stupid children” is a redundant phrase) and uninformed adults to buy crap again and again, why not this time?  Was Blood Stone a sanguinary “diamond in the rough?”  Not really.  But when Activision can’t sell average games attached to a proven license, I’d reckon they’ve lost their touch, more than anything else.

Tron's alright and everything, but pirate ships on fire just tend to top most other offerings.

Bottom line, Activision doesn’t like developers (regardless of critical acclaim, or pedigree of past titles) that don’t bring in teh moniez.  There were rumors that they’d allow the prodigal son to return home to Microsoft Game Studios, but MGS doesn’t appear to be in the mood for a joyous homecoming of sorts.  It was thought for a while that they’d simply resume their work on the PGR series, but it appears that if the franchise is revived, Turn 10 studios (developers of the Forza series) will likely take the reins.  Bottom line, barring a last minute intervention, Bizarre Creations will be making a permanent pit stop of sorts.

On a slightly more alarming note (one that confirms my clairvoyant powers, once and for all) mere hours after I published my “mostly meh” review of Tron: Evolution, it was announced by Disney Interactive that they’d be “derezzing” (note the clever topical pun there) the game’s creators, Propaganda Games.  Yes, Evolution was average with infrequent moments where I wasn’t gazing at the clock on the wall, and yes, Turok‘s sparse checkpoints made it an excerise in sadism, but one has to still feel bad when people lose their jobs.  Even more so, because they were tasked with Evolution roughly a year into their pre-existing project Pirates of the Caribbean: Armada of the Damned, which looked infinitely more impressive, despite (to my knowledge) lacking Olivia Wilde.

If anything else, I think today adequately reflects the double-edged sword that is being a second-party studio/subsidiary (you are technically an independent entity, but you are still owned by a publisher).  We also learned that, contrary to common knowledge and our basic understanding of modern science, that the presence of Olivia Wilde cannot ensure a promising game.  It can, however, give me license to post a picture of her in this entry…which is almost as good.

Oh Olivia Wilde, you can lounge on my living room furnishings any time you like. Sidenote: Bear my children.

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