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Opinion

On The Edge: The Untimely Closure Of Bigbig

As the UK industry struggles.

Four games in six years; three on the PSP and a fourth due next month on PlayStation Vita (or now, of course, if you imported a machine from Japan).  For a company like Bigbig, focused entirely on portable PlayStation products and with a great track record – and a game just around the corner – news of their closure must have been gutting.

For me, on a personal level, it all just seems a little premature.

Not that news of yet another UK studio being shuttered is anything remarkable these days, the tax issue continues to loom and the purse-strings are tighter than ever before, but we’re used to developers being laid off and offices cleared a little while after a game has hit the shelves, at least in the studio’s native market.

Little Deviants' third trailer, showing off the game nicely. The launch title is packed with all manner of game ideas.
I met one of the team at E3 as he demoed Little Deviants for me – a nice bloke, quietly confident that the game would showcase Vita’s ample array of new features.

It does, as it happens. I bought the game from the Japanese PlayStation Store (without giving it a second thought: the game was only ¥2,000) and although you can’t help shake the feeling that the above description is almost entirely fitting (it screams mini-game compilation right from the off) it’s a solid enough game with great presentation, even if there’s an overwhelming sensation that the reins were never allowed off.

At the time of writing, the Bigbig website is still up and running, but it’s eerily tragic and sad; the last post on the site a duo of Happy Christmas wallpapers, their Twitter feed a suddenly halted stream of enthusiasm.  One can only assume there wasn’t much in the way of notice of the closure, stories of their offices being renovated back in November and a tenth anniversary celebratory day out amongst recent blogs.

Bigbig were formed by four guys back in 2001, based in England and under the umbrella of Evolution Studios.  Their first game, the PSP’s Pursuit Force, was an early hit for the console and a follow-up pushed the title further.  The studio’s take on MotorStorm, though, in Arctic Edge, was a particular highlight, and is still thought of fondly as one of the best mobile racers for years.  Clearly a talented bunch of individuals, then.


One of the cute Little Deviants from Bigbig's final game.
It was Yoshida himself that gave the nod to Little Deviants, a tech demo (the one you’ll have seen where the player uses the rear touch pad to push up the ground, making a character roll) that ended up being just one aspect of several in game that uses everything the Vita offers.

It’s safe to say that that particular aspect of the game became rather iconic, a statement that said ‘Vita is different’ at a time when Sony was so keen to show what the console could do – at least it felt that way to me.

So it seems a little odd that the game you’ll be getting free (if you pre-order a PS Vita in the US) will be the last these guys produce as Bigbig.

Sony said, when the closures were announced, that Bigbig was “an important part of SCE Worldwide Studios” since it was incorporated into the group in 2007, but added that “by focusing on other Studios that are currently working on exciting new projects, we would be in a stronger position to offer the best possible content for our consumers.”

We don’t doubt that they’ll find new employment elsewhere (and we wish them all the luck in the world in that respect) but as name, a brand, this is a rather sudden end.  A shame indeed, when Sony should be pushing all the resources they can at Vita – for which some – including this author for one – think Bigbig were a perfect fit.

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17 Comments
  1. kivi95
    Member
    Since: Oct 2009

    Well are not alot of the guys going to work to help at Guriella Games?With the Killzone psvita game.

    Comment posted on 11/01/2012 at 22:09.
    • nofi
      One for all.
      Since: Forever

      No. That was Cambridge.

      Comment posted on 11/01/2012 at 22:10.
  2. Burgess_101
    Member
    Since: May 2009

    it really is sad hearing about all these closures, these clearly talented individuals will have no problem finding another project im sure!

    Comment posted on 11/01/2012 at 22:14.
  3. Bodachi
    Member
    Since: Jan 2010

    It is a shame really enjoyed their games and looking forward to Little Deviants. Seems odd that a studio focused entirely on handheld games would be closed before the Vita’s North American and European release. Guess no Pursuit Force 3. :(

    Comment posted on 11/01/2012 at 22:48.
  4. Awayze
    Member
    Since: Jul 2010

    So many closures.

    Comment posted on 11/01/2012 at 22:57.
  5. ManWithNoName
    Member
    Since: Jan 2012

    I don’t know. We all see studio closures as bad things, but some of those guys can be employed on other studios of the same publisher, either to help make existing games or to make other projects in the same studio. Hope it is the case and that all guys be employed soon.

    Comment posted on 11/01/2012 at 23:09.
    • bunimomike
      Member
      Since: Jul 2009

      I was thinking about this only last week. I fancied letting TSA know my thoughts about it but time escaped me. What I’d like to see is articles on new companies/studios/departments forming so we see both sides of the employment coin, as it were.

      I used to work for a software company and the programmers I dealt with (as the only designer there) were extremely talented. Sadly, the CEO had the business foresight of a particularly retarded goldfish. You can have the best crew in the world but put a madman at the helm and an iceberg will be hit sooner or later.

      We all went our separate ways and have flourished in a variety of ways. This I’d like to see reported on more and more with the video games industry as people will often go onto great things when a major transition happens.

      Comment posted on 12/01/2012 at 09:24.
      • Bladesteel
        Member
        Since: Sep 2008

        +1

        More good news please. Even if it’s only a short notice that “x, y and z, formerly of BigBig have announced they are starting up a new studio, SmallSmall, to work on a (so far) top secret project involving cute rodents, sharks, lasers and leftover christmas pudding.”

        Comment posted on 12/01/2012 at 16:38.
  6. Origami Killer
    Member
    Since: May 2010

    Shame to hear about this. Nearly every week a studio is being shut down. I really enjoyed Pursuit Force on the PSP and thought Little Deviants looked fantastic on the Vita.

    Comment posted on 11/01/2012 at 23:36.
  7. Gadbury
    Member
    Since: Jan 2009

    Very sad indeed. Poor guys weren’t even given a chance, it seems. I wish them all the best.

    Are Sony already stamping out the creation of innovative, Vita-focused games for rehashes of PS3 titles? Focusing on Killzone? Eurgh! Please Sony, new IP! I’d like to see them focus on games that uniquely utilise the Vita (and not just Uncharted with screen-fondling).

    Comment posted on 11/01/2012 at 23:46.
  8. TSBonyman
    Member
    Since: Dec 2009

    A sad story, it doesn’t seem right that they are shut down while at the same time heralding in the Vita. Hope they all find new projects.

    Comment posted on 12/01/2012 at 00:41.
  9. YOURMUMANDME
    Member
    Since: Oct 2008

    Is this becoming a trend with Sony in particular? I’m just asking because I don’t know, it’s not a statement. I’d be interested to know if it’s mainly UK companies that produce multi-platform games or if it seems to be companies providing exclusives for a specific platform.

    Comment posted on 12/01/2012 at 00:43.
  10. Carl
    Member
    Since: Jan 2009

    Travesty. Would much rather see some new IP for Vita from Big Big, than pooey Killzone games from Cambridge :(

    Comment posted on 12/01/2012 at 03:17.
    • Sympozium
      Member
      Since: Aug 2009

      …and a new Medievil

      Comment posted on 12/01/2012 at 03:49.

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