Split/Second Studio Shutting Down

Andy Chalk

One Flag, One Fleet, One Cat
Nov 12, 2002
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Split/Second Studio Shutting Down


Black Rock Studio, the developer of racing games Split/Second [http://www.amazon.com/Pure-Xbox-360/dp/B0016NM7BU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1309531621&sr=8-1], is closing its doors.

Pure and Split/Second were both reasonably well-received racing games but they weren't enough to keep the lights on at U.K. developer Black Rock Studio. After losing almost two-thirds of its staff to layoffs in May that left it with only 40 employees, studio owner Disney told the remaining staff yesterday that the entire operation is being shut down.

"Disney Interactive Studios confirms that Black Rock Studios' current project has not been greenlit for further development, consequently the company informed employees yesterday of the intent to enter a consultation process on the proposal to close the studios," Disney said in a statement released to Eurogamer [http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2011-07-01-split-second-dev-black-rock-to-close].

According to one source, Disney handled the studio "clumsily" by outsourcing games rather than using Black Rock's internal capabilities. It also failed to adequately market Pure and Split/Second, leading to relatively sub-par sales despite a positive critical reception.

Disney revealed back in November [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/105245-Disney-Closing-the-Money-Bin-for-Console-Development] 2010 that it intended to reduce game development budgets after bleeding almost a half-billion dollars over the previous two years. The company didn't specify at the time where the cuts would be made but CEO Bog Iger said he saw the industry moving away from consoles and indicated that Disney would focus on smaller-scale but more profitable ventures in casual, social and mobile gaming.



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V8 Ninja

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Freaking delayed posts! For those actually wondering about my comment, see a few posts below.
 

The Rascal King

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Well shit, this is kind of sad because I enjoyed their catalog. I once bought three new copies of Pure to give to my friends because I really liked it.

R.I.P Black Rock, I hope that it's employees get scooped up by someone more competent than Disney.
 

tlozoot

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Another blow to British game development. Maybe a good time to receive those tax breaks if the coalition government don't want to lose this industry to other countries.
 

V8 Ninja

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And another developer gets canned. But not only that, I really liked Split/Second. Needless to say, disappointment is inevitable for me.
 

RoboGeek

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Man, they were the closest studio to my home I was hoping to apply for an intern-ship there next summer. Its a shame their shutting down its always sad to see a company go especially in the UK where there's not that many studios to begin with
 

Andy Chalk

One Flag, One Fleet, One Cat
Nov 12, 2002
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First Bizarre Creations and now BlackRock? Today's business model seems to have something against racing games.

Well, at least we still have fantastic studios like Codemasters, Criterion, and Turn 10 for our racing needs. I'm not gonna include Polyphony Digital to that list considering how GT5 and GT-PSP went.
 

teh_Canape

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May 18, 2010
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today is a sad day

they made the some of the most unique racing games of these past years
 

Owlslayer

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This is sad. I never like it when a game studio closes its' doors.
It seems like making enough profit when selling games is harder and harder these days.
Or blame Mickey, either way is good.
 

bunji

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While I loathe racing games its always sad to see a studio go, but hey, the people arent executed when they shutdown a studio right? They could concievably start a new studio and continue making racing games, so take heart!
 

Korias

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bunji said:
While I loathe racing games its always sad to see a studio go, but hey, the people arent executed when they shutdown a studio right? They could concievably start a new studio and continue making racing games, so take heart!
We can always hope, but in all likelihood they'll be picked up by other development teams. I don't think a Split/Second 2 is going to be coming any time soon.
 

K V MAN

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sravankb said:
First Bizarre Creations and now BlackRock? Today's business model seems to have something against racing games.

Well, at least we still have fantastic studios like Codemasters, Criterion, and Turn 10 for our racing needs. I'm not gonna include Polyphony Digital to that list considering how GT5 and GT-PSP went.
unfortunately that is true, the biggest fear now is on the fighting genre the new generation of gamers are either casual or FPS oriented few are moving to the fighting genre.
 

LunaSocks

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This is saddening. I quite enjoyed Split/Second, and was hoping for a sequel. Maybe this will teach Disney to better handle it's assets.
 

Vie

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tlozoot said:
Another blow to British game development. Maybe a good time to receive those tax breaks if the coalition government don't want to lose this industry to other countries.
The Tories doing something rational? Don't count on it any time soon.

The only way game's are going to get tax breaks under this lot are when Rupert Murdock invests in UK based studios, or hell freezes over - which on reflection is probably the same thing.
 

Woodsey

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I don't know about poor marketing - I'm pretty sure I saw them everywhere.
 

Andy Chalk

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Nov 12, 2002
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Racing games are too much of a niche market for big companies like Activision and Disney, who don't consider a title successful and viable unless it's achieving multi-million sales across a broad market. Racers don't do that.

My hope is that these studios will go back to their roots - regroup with smaller, more efficient dev teams and start making games for the market that originally brought them success, either as self-published indie or with a smaller publisher that caters to more specialized audiences, like the aforementioned Codemasters.

It's sad when a studio gets the hammer like this but it doesn't mean that its products weren't viable, just that they don't fit into the mega-mass-market plans of huge publishers. My hope is that it's a kind of shake-out process that will ultimately lead to a better and more equitable industry that serves gamers of all stripes far more capably than it does now.
 

Vykrel

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Split/Second was the first car racing game id bought since Burnout: Revenge in like 2005.

these guys are fantastic racing developers, and im willing to bet that they were Disney's only great development studio.

lets hope a lot of the folks from the studio form a new one and continue making great racing games. :)
 

Podunk

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That really is too bad. Split/Second was a great game, and I usually avoid racing games at all cost. They are the one genre apart from sports games that I will not play, but Split/Second was different. It was well-presented, had great graphics, fun gameplay modes and overall felt like a grown-up version of Mario Kart that relied much more on skill rather than luck.