As someone who remembers and played through the Golden Years of Rare, today’s news that the studio has reportedly suffered a number of layoffs hits particularly close to home. It also probably didn’t help that Kinect is no longer a mandatory piece to the Xbox One. I say that fully knowing that the studio known as Rare we have now a days is not the same one from 15 years ago.
As reported by Eurogamer, the UK based studio let 16 employees go yesterday in the wake of their latest release, Kinect Sports Rivals, not selling as well as hoped. The game released to fairly mixed reviews in April and just never caught on like the company had hoped it would. In the UK alone, the game debuted on the sales charts in 14th position before quickly dropping off it completely a few weeks later. In the US alone, Rivals failed to place on the chart so that should tell you how well the game has done up to this point.
Microsoft has confirmed the layoffs at Rare and provided the following statement regarding the situation:
“At Xbox, our goal is to constantly create new fun, social and interactive entertainment experiences. As part of Rare’s commitment to this goal, we have made a decision to change our development process and methodology at Rare to best support our future projects, this has led to us reviewing the skills and the makeup of our development teams in our business.
Rare continues to invest in our people and future projects.”
Sadly, industry veterans such as Chris Sutherland (Battletoads, Donkey Kong Country series, voice of Killer Instinct and Killer Instinct 2 to name a few) and Gavin Price are among those no longer with Rare.
With the Kinect now becoming an optional piece to the Xbox One and Rare primarily focusing on software for the device, the developer seems to be at a bit of a crossroads going forward. It’s sad to see how far the developer has fallen over the years. I’m curious to see if they stick with motion style games or if they move back to more traditional gaming which may involve reviving one of their IPs. Would be interesting to see a new entry in the Perfect Dark, Viva Pinata or Banjo-Kazooie universes now wouldn’t it?