Split/Second Studio Shutting Down

Split/Second Studio Shutting Down

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Black Rock Studio, the developer of racing games Pure and Split/Second, 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.

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 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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I know I shouldnt say this but I blame Mickey Mouse.

Damn. I liked both of those games a lot.

RIP Black Rock Studio

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

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.

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.

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

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

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.

today is a sad day

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

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.

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!

bunji:
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.

sravankb:
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.

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.

tlozoot:
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.

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

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.

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. :)

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.

they made the only racing games i actually liked though...

I loved both those games! What happened, did they go over disney's quota for positive reviews? Were they upset that they included wolfmother and pendulum on the soundtrack for pure as opposed to disney's suggestion of Hannah Montana and the jonas brothers?

Just another reason for me to despise Disney. Here's hoping black rock employees get picked up by someone who isn't a moron.

Did the games not make profit, or not make enough profit?

I'm not really into racing games(except Rock n' Roll Racing for the SNES) but it's always sad to see another game studio go under.

Fuck it! I was eagerly waiting for a Split/Second sequel. Besides being a fantastic and unique take on the demolition racer genre, they actually added local multiplayer for the PC.

The best of my wishes to them...

I LOVE SPLIT/SECOND this is seriously sad...

Pure and Split/Second

Eh... I'd say they tried and delivered decent, but not compelling games. I can't speak for Pure, but Split/Second didn't have enough tracks and seemed to drag. DLC under a "New Season" banner would have made this game much more viable. I would say that either EA or Activision would have probably taken this route and came out ahead (if Black Ops is any indication, Activision would have definitely done this).

I pulled up some reviews and videos of Pure. For the most part, it's a good game, so long as you're into the genre. Think SSX-ATV. Good variety of tracks and race types and visuals that still hold up 2 years later. Both Codemasters and EA would have probably been better to the game than Disney Interactive. The only catch is that ATV racers are a nitch-of-a-nitch market, as many arcade racing fans (myself included) prefer cars to ATVs. Still, it looked like a good game and was received well by critics, if not the masses.

I can see the team moving en mass to another development studio under a different publisher. They can put out good games, they just need a publisher that is willing to say "okay" to a game that will likely only make a small profit.

Mediocre developer is mediocre. It's sad to see any company sink, but I doubt they'll be missed by many.

Lokko Nuclear, my kind of captcha.

Disney can do what it wants with its money.... they are only spending the money from selling mickey mouse hats right now lol

Raiyan 1.0:
Fuck it! I was eagerly waiting for a Split/Second sequel. Besides being a fantastic and unique take on the demolition racer genre, they actually added local multiplayer for the PC.

The best of my wishes to them...

I think they actually were working on the sequel but got cancelled in November when the studio laid off some employees and got it's budget cut, after that they felt they just didn't have the resources to continue development on the sequel.

One of the few racing games that truly deserved a sequel IMO

:( The only racing dev whose games I played. I especially loved Pure. Sad.

Good. Both of those games were atrocious.

INF1NIT3 D00M:
Good. Both of those games were atrocious.

Your comment is completely void of argument. Get out of here, troll.

Well, fuck. Will Disney ever stop destroying things I like? No more Spectacular Spiderman, no more SS and no more Pure. And they closed it because ? Oh, that's right. They said 'fuck them' and decided to jump the freemium content bandwagon. Way to reward a company whose games made you money and sold over a million copies even if they advertised them poorly. But when it came to Epic Mickey, oooooooh, they said, let's be dickherds and get stuck to the past.

This is something Extra Credits should tackle.

katsabas:
-snipped some emotional whining-]

Why do I have to argue with you? I don't want to. Hell, I'm not even trying to troll, I'm just expressing my (highly negative) opinion. I attacked no one and invited no comments. If you ask me, both of those games were crap sandwiches. My opinion is non-negotiable, and is neither right nor wrong. However, since you invited me to "Elaborate or GTFO"...

This studio couldn't get collision detection right if they had the programmers from Codemasters AND Nadeo come visit and write their code for them (though Nadeo is technically a bad example). If you want a better explosive racing series, play Burnout Revenge. It's pretty much the same game. Explosive cars, high speed racing, TV as a framing device. Burnout has more levels, more game modes, and overall better gameplay. The controls are actually responsive in Burnout, as an added bonus.
Pure isn't as bad as Split/Second, because it actually had some great ATV customization and the tracks were really well designed. The main problem is just that the ATVs themselves feel slow, a cardinal sin in a genre that is by definition all about going fast. In addition the collision detection either kills you when you land a trick perfectly, or allows you to hit the ground mid-trick and keep driving. It doesn't know what to do when you land somewhere other than flat ground, so some sections that look drivable or sit in plain sight either kill you or put up invisible walls.

At the end of the day, I want more for my $60 than a lame Burnout ripoff or a mediocre ATV racer with buggy collision.
And just FYI:
- Disney has had people making free to play games since before it was cool. Toontown, 2003. They weren't the first, but even if they were "jumping on a bandwagon" at some point, that point was 8 years ago.
- Yahtzee already reviewed Split/Second, and I have similar complaints.
- Extra Credits is a great series and there are a lot of subjects that I would like to hear them talk about. The shutdown of Black Rock studios is not one of those subjects. It's an inconsequential blip on the radar of the gaming community. Perhaps you don't mean Black Rock studios then? Perhaps you want them to make a scathing video bemoaning the fate of video games due to Free to Play systems. Problem is, you'd be disappointed. Somehow I don't see them hating Free to Play as much as you do. It's a pretty decent system that allows everyone to play, makes money for the creators and allows those with the cash on hand to make their character an individual. If you were to ask me where it works, I'd point you at Team Fortress 2. You'd be hard-pressed to call that game pay-to-win.
-This is a public forum. I've expressed my opinion and you've expressed yours. I don't really want to converse with you any more than I already have. I'm going elsewhere. Whether you decide to get really angry and defend your beloved studio to an indifferent audience or if you just declare "haters gonna hate" is none of my concern.

INF1NIT3 D00M:

Why do I have to argue with you? I don't want to. Hell, I'm not even trying to troll, I'm just expressing my (highly negative) opinion. I attacked no one and invited no comments. If you ask me, both of those games were crap sandwiches. My opinion is non-negotiable, and is neither right nor wrong. However, since you invited me to elaborate or GTFO...

INF1NIT3 D00M:
This is a public forum. I've expressed my opinion and you've expressed yours.

INF1NIT3 D00M:
Yahtzee already reviewed Split/Second, and I have similar complaints.

This ain't about Yahtzee. At least he already knew that you have to present a reason for which a game is not good. Your previous comment had nothing of this sort. And this being a public forum has nothing to do with the fact that your statement lacked depth. So yeah, my comment was pretty much 'elaborate'. The GTFO was cause I was sure you wouldn't respond. So, my bad.

INF1NIT3 D00M:
This studio couldn't get collision detection right if they had the programmers from Codemasters AND Nadeo come visit and write their code for them (though Nadeo is technically a bad example). If you want a better explosive racing series, play Burnout Revenge. It's pretty much the same game. Explosive cars, high speed racing, TV as a framing device. Burnout has more levels, more game modes, and overall better gameplay. The controls are actually responsive in Burnout, as an added bonus.
Pure isn't as bad as Split/Second, because it actually had some great ATV customization and the tracks were really well designed. The main problem is just that the ATVs themselves feel slow, a cardinal sin in a genre that is by definition all about going fast. In addition the collision detection either kills you when you land a trick perfectly, or allows you to hit the ground mid-trick and keep driving. It doesn't know what to do when you land somewhere other than flat ground, so some sections that look drivable or sit in plain sight either kill you or put up invisible walls.

They made do with what they had. Criterion (whose games I absolutely love, from Airblade to every Burnout) is owned by EA who is all about games. Blackrock is owned by Disney, for whom games are a low priority, even with ToonTown. I went in with not very high expectations and what I got surprised me. Job well done.

The one point I agree with is the collision detection cause yeah, it could have used a bit more refining. Other than that, I loved the tricks in Pure and the gameplay mechanics in Split Second.

INF1NIT3 D00M:
At the end of the day, I want more for my $60 than a lame Burnout ripoff or a mediocre ATV racer with buggy collision.

That's what trailers and 'not buying on day 1' is for. Also, when calling something a rip-off, you have to be aware of the subject material. Again, that's where trailers come in. You were aware of the subject material, deemed it a rip-off and after that, you still went out and bought the game ? That's logic.

INF1NIT3 D00M:
And just FYI:
- Disney has had people making free to play games since before it was cool. Toontown, 2003. They weren't the first, but even if they were "jumping on a bandwagon" at some point, that point was 8 years ago.

I am not pissed at the F2P trend. I bought Portal for free. I am pissed cause Disney had something decent in their hands and decided not to support it anymore (again!). If you have red the article on Eurogamer, they decided to publish games through other means and not through Blackrock. Games that the studio could easily handle.

INF1NIT3 D00M:
- Extra Credits is a great series and there are a lot of subjects that I would like to hear them talk about. The shutdown of Black Rock studios is not one of those subjects. It's an inconsequential blip on the radar of the gaming community. Perhaps you don't mean Black Rock studios then? Perhaps you want them to make a scathing video bemoaning the fate of video games due to Free to Play systems. Problem is, you'd be disappointed.

The material I want EC to tackle isn't Blackrock's closure. Rather the whole 'incorporate mismanagement' topic.

INF1NIT3 D00M:
I don't really want to converse with you any more than I already have. I'm going elsewhere.

That's the second thing we agree on.

 

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