Bizarre Creations was a Liverpool based game development studio. The company was founded in 1994, marking a 17 year run of game development. The studio was well-known for such releases as Project Gotham Racing and Geometry Wars.
Raising Hell Productions
When the company was originally founded by Martyn Chudley in 1988, it was known as Raising Hell. He used this name to release games on the Commodore 64 and the Sega Genesis (including Fatal Rewind and Wiz 'n' Liz), although pressure from Sega forced the company to drop this moniker due to the connotations of the word "hell." Thus, the company was nameless until 1994, when a design document titled "Weird Concepts" was used as the basis for the name "Bizarre Creations" (an employee used a thesaurus).
The first release under Bizarre Creations was Formula 1, for the PlayStation and PC in 1996. Formula 1 was a massive hit for the (then) 11 man studio, going on to be the best selling game in Europe during 1996. The company hired more members and went on to release Formula One: Championship Edition in 1997.
Still partially a developer for Sega, Bizarre Creations worked closely with the console manufacturer during the Dreamcast's lifetime, releasing Metropolis Street Racer in 2000 (the predecessor to Project Gotham Racing). Additionally, the company released Fur Fighters, a well-received action-adventure game with a cartoon style.
After the death of the Dreamcast, Bizarre went on to develop a variety of games for Microsoft's Xbox. Most prominently, the team released Project Gotham Racing, a series which Microsoft still owns even after the company's death. During this time, there were actually four different teams within Bizarre Creations, as the company then employed 65 people. These four teams were the Gotham team, the Smokescreen team, the Nightmare team, and the Limbo team (each involved in their own development projects).
Until they were acquired by Activision, Bizarre worked on a variety of Xbox related games, including Project Gotham Racing 3 and 4 in 2005 and 2007 respectively and The Club (another game published by Sega). They were also involved in smaller profile games, such as Boom Boom Rocket and the Geometry Wars franchise.
Purchased by Activision
In 2007, Bizarre Creations was purchased by mega-publisher Activision Blizzard for $67 million (USD). This coincided with the release of Project Gotham Racing 4; Bizarre issued a statement saying that Microsoft still owns the rights to PGR, and any future PGR games will not be developed by Bizarre.
Bizarre Creations' most recent racing game is Blur, and was released on May 25th, 2010. According to GameRankings, it has an average rating of 83.94%. Bizarre Creations' next game was James Bond 007: Bloodstone, and was released on November 5th, 2010.
It was announced on November 16th, 2010 via a thread on NeoGaf that Bizarre Creations was being shut down, as Activision Blizzard had concluded that all members of the Bizarre Creations staff were "redundant". On February 18, 2011, the studio closed its doors forever.
A New Beginning
After the death of Bizarre Creations, three new companies were started by former employees:
Games Developed by Bizarre
In 1998 it was explained to Electronic Gaming Monthly how their pumpkin head mascot came into being.
"Martyn [Chudley] had always wanted to have a pumpkin character in one of his games. This eventually happened in Wiz 'n' Liz where the first incarnation of the logo can just about be seen one centimetre by one centimetre on the U.K. box. Then a couple more versions, during F1 we had the fortune of meeting up with the fantasy artist, Rodney Matthews, who agreed to do the logo for us. And with his help, the Pumpkin Man was born, and is currently being modeled and animated for the Metropolis intro screen."