Hirshberg: Not all studio analysis periods are “a fait accompli”

By Stephany Nunneley
30 August 2011 14:07 GMT

Activision publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg has said that not all studio analysis periods lead to closures, like with Bizarre, as the firm does its best to find buyers for the product like with True Crime developer United Front Games.

Speaking in an interview with GI.biz, Hirshberg said Activision is pleased it was “able to keep that group together and complete their vision,” and the firm is currently looking into what it can do for DJ Hero developer, Freestyle Games.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled and we worked very hard to create that opportunity,” he said. “We’ve got some opportunities in the hopper for Freestyle – I think very, very highly of that studio and the creative talent within it. We’re doing everything we can to keep that group together.”

Hirshberg also reiterated the fact Bizarre ending up being shuttered do a shrinking racing genre.

“The analysis process has to do with, not only marketplace performance, but also potential. In the case of Blur, for example. I thought Blur was a great game. I think Bizarre did a tremendous job. When we greenlit that game, the racing category was on fire, there seemed to be a lot of growth there. In the three years or so it took to create the game, the racing genre really shrunk.

Everything else happened in the industry that you mentioned before, people started playing fewer games, and so we found ourselves in this position where we were like, okay – this is the world’s sixth or seventh racing title now. It’s new IP in a category with huge franchises like Gran Turismo and Need For Speed and Forza which are very well established.

So we had to be honest with ourselves and say, do we think we can out-execute the entire category by so many laps, excuse the pun, that we can break through all of that brand strength in a shrinking market? We just felt that our investment dollars were better spent on other projects where we had more of a competitive advantage.

I think gamers have spoken there too. Blur was a really great game, but the world didn’t seem to have the appetite for another racing game. So that’s not to say that it’s not important. We often get painted with the brush that says we’re only just working on our existing franchises. New IP with Bungie, new IP with Skylanders, doubling down on new IP with Prototype. What we’re focused on is making the games that we feel we can make better than anybody else, the places where we have a unique advantage, idea or development partner, that can set us apart.

“Obviously we have to be beholden to our shareholders and we have to run a profitable business in every way that we can. But this is a creative business and the road to profitability is hand-in-hand with creative excellence.”

You can read the entire interview through the link.

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