Guitar Hero creator Budcat Studios shuts down

Budcat Creations, an Iowa City studio that created the hit video game Guitar Hero, apparently has been shut down by its California-based owner, Activision Blizzard.

Budcat, 332 S. Linn St., was acquired by Activision Publishing, a subsidiary of Activision Blizzard, in late 2008. The studio, which reportedly employed about 70 at the time it was closed, helped developed games within the Guitar Hero franchise, including Guitar Hero III, Legends of Rock and Guitar Hero: Aerosmith.

Activision Blizzard, a publicly traded company, issued a statement about the closing of Budcat Creations and shutdown of its quality assurance division in California.

“We continue to streamline our music development resources to ensure that they are aligned against our slate and strategic goals,” Activision Blizzard said in its release. “As a result, we are implementing a targeted reduction in jobs in our quality assurance team in California and closing our Budcat studio in Iowa. Budcat has been a great partner to Activision and has created a lasting impact on the Guitar Hero franchise.

“Approximately 88 positions, or 1 percent of our global work force, will be impacted by these reductions. We are working to redirect those employees that are impacted to other parts of the company where possible, as well as offering them outplacement counseling services.”

Budcat employees reportedly had no advance warning that the studio would be closed. Their first indication was the presence of security guards when they arrived for work and were told that the studio had closed and they were no longer employed.

Budcat moved its operations from Las Vegas to Iowa City in January 2006. The company came about after University of Iowa graduate Isaac Burns met former Iowa Citian Jason Andersen in 1998 while both were working at EA Tiburon in Maitland, Fla.Burns and Anderson left EA Tiburon two years later to start their own gaming company in Las Vegas and were joined by Andersen’s brother, Jeremy.

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