European boss reveals publisher is looking into other acquisition opportunitiues

Activision: ‘Bizarre buy is just the beginning’

Activision’s European chief has told Develop his company won’t turn down the chance to acquire another key developer in the territory, or possibly even build a studio from scratch, should the opportunity arise.

Speaking to us after the top five publisher announced its surprise swoop for Liverpool, UK-based Bizarre Creations, Joerg Trouvain said that the company was “always looking at opportunities” that presented themselves as the company planned to boost its European business and strengthen its internal production resource across Europe and the world.

Acquiring Bizarre is a move that has certainly raised a number of eyebrows both amongst the UK development community and around the world, and shows another company making an important play to own part of the racing game genre, which Activision says is a 10 per cent chunk of the market. Last month Evolution and its satellite studio Bigbig were added to the Sony empire. Most recently, Bizarr has completed work on Project Gortham Racing 4 (pictured).

“There were two reasons for the acquisition,” added Trouvain. “The first was to expand our development capacity because that is the way to grow. The other is to enter the racing genre which we haven’t been in before.”

Bizarre will now be charged with devising a wholly new racing game for Activision, expected towards the end of 2009 at the earliest (although it has The Club to finish for Sega first), built with its proprietary technology. The studio will not be meddled with, either, said all involved. Founders Martyn and Sarah Chudley, who opened the studio in 1994, and other key Bizarre staff have signed up to become long-term Activision employees, but retain a large level of autonomy.

“Acivision’s independent studio model will continue giving us creative freedom to build exciting new brands,”said Martyn Chudley.

“Their financial support and marketing prowess will also enable us to build upon the commercial success that we currently enjoy, and take the company – and our games – to an even higher level.”

Of course, in entering the driving game arena, Activision won’t just be competing with publisher rivals in the charts, but also a host of other UK-based racing game specialists on the development front. Codemasters, Criterion, Sega Racing Studio, Sony’s clutch of studios in or near Liverpool, Eutechnyx, Blimey! Games, Black Rock Studio – the list goes on.

Trouvain said Bizarre’s talent will help it win the race, however: “It’s true there is a lot of competition out there but Bizarre Creations is not just a studio – it’s one of the very best studios in the world and I think the gain is that
we will be able to create a racing game that is outstanding and deliver that to market.”

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