Dev: Rare Lost its "Spark" After Microsoft Purchase

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Dev: Rare Lost its "Spark" After Microsoft Purchase

Rare Logo 2

Phil Tossell, lead programmer for StarFox Adventures, says the company "loved working closely with Nintendo."

You may remember Rare Ltd as the developer behind the NES classic Battletoads. No? Well, maybe a game by the name of Donkey Kong Country will ring a bell. If not there's always Killer Instinct, GoldenEye 007, Banjo-Kazooie, Perfect Dark, Conker's Bad Fur Day and Jet Force Gemini. If you owned a Nintendo console during the 1990s, you've probably played a game made by Rare. The high volume of Nintendo titles can probably be attributed to Nintendo owning a majority stake in the company until 2002 when Microsoft swooped in and purchased Nintendo's shares for a whopping $375 milllion. The purchase may have arguably been less than fortuitous for both parties. While Rare would create some decently regarded titles for Xbox platforms, its sales were not what Microsoft had hoped for, leading to a reorganization of the studio in 2009.

If Microsoft has any disappointments with its purchase of Rare, there are some hailing from the studio that share the sentiment. "We loved working closely with Nintendo," said Phil Tossell, a former Rare employee and lead programmer for Starfox Adventures. "Rare was also a close knit family and so it was something of a shock to suddenly become part of such a huge organization as Microsoft. There was a severe culture clash which perhaps didn't become apparent at first as Microsoft mostly allowed us to continue as we had always done. However as time passed and there were staff changes at [Microsoft Game Studios], together with [Rare's co-founders] leaving, the culture changed and it began to feel more Microsoft and less Rare. While Rare continues to put out high quality games, for me it lost some of the spark that had made the company special."

Despite these feelings Tossell is excited to see where the future takes Rare. "I'm excited to see what they do next. Whatever Rare does it will always hold a special place for me." Millions of gamers, growing up with games developed by Rare Ltd, can probably relate.

Source: Nintendo Enthusiast

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that is the nature of corporations, soulless money making machines, I know this because I own lots of apple products :D

You now, I doubt there really is much I can comment on this, besides the fact that the guy who made Starfox Adventures has no right to tell me which games are good. Other than that...

I wouldn't say they lost it immediately after Microsoft purchased them. Hell, for the most part I enjoy their Microsoft properties more than the Nintendo ones. The problem was when Microsoft decided in their infinite wisdom to stick them on silly avatar and Kinect shit.

LET THEM MAKE ANOTHER VIVA PINATA GAME, MICROSOFT!

Nintendo lost its shine for me when Nuts and bolts came out i just hope to god they dont try for another conkers game the thought gives me the chills because Conker is one of my all time heros >.>

Don't know why this dev felt the need to point that out. Everyone came to this conclusion long before.
Even Grant Kirkhope on Game Grumps stated this sentiment before he got the boot. (or left idk)
The issue that Microsoft doesn't understand is that Rare's demographic which are mainly kids, platformers, and collector enthusiasts are not on their system. They are on Nintendo's system.

The same way Nintendo has the stigma for being a console more directed more towards family and kids, is the same way Microsoft has the stigma for belonging to dudebros, and hardcore gamers. It is also known as the land of the bad language squad.
To emphasize this point- how many kid games did they even show at E3? How many new kid games did they show last year? One? Two? Zero? Maybe. I can only remember one kid game announced this year, and I know it will flop because nobody on the Xbox One will give a shit about it.
Just like nobody really cared about Viva Pinata. A game that had it been on the Wii, would've sold in the millions.
I also don't see Nintendo buying back Rare either.
They know have their own little Rare clone Retro Studios, that have shown to be fully capable of capturing the magic that Rare has now lost. That and the ex-Rare employees have formed a sort of independent studio of sorts that make swell games on iOS.

saintdane05:
You now, I doubt there really is much I can comment on this, besides the fact that the guy who made Starfox Adventures has no right to tell me which games are good. Other than that...

He was just the programmer though. It's not like he did anything really involving the creative process.

RedBackDragon:
Nintendo lost its shine for me when Nuts and bolts came out i just hope to god they dont try for another conkers game the thought gives me the chills because Conker is one of my all time heros >.>

I believe you mean Rare, not Nintendo.

OT: I don't know that it was necessarily the fact that Microsoft bought them, rather that the nature of the console market changed drastically within a generation. Platformers have been in decline for many years, even before the buyout, and as such everything that Rare excelled at was not where the money ultimately lay.

I remember hearing once that Microsoft thought that buying Rare also bought them the Donkey Kong license, I wonder how much truth there is to that claim, and if the reality of the situation would have changed their decision to buy if it were true.

EDIT - Apparently I heard it quite recently and tricked myself into believing it to be an old story. Stupid brain.

Well, it's nice to know that at least people AT Rare were fully aware their quality almost completely diminished with the acquisition. Anyways, this guy is just confirming what everyone already knows. Nintendo not buying Rare when the owners lost interest in the company has to be one of the worst decisions in gaming history.

Goes back to Conkers Bad Furr day on the N64

Yup little news to say here, it really went downhill fast. Like Terramax said what if Nintendo bought them it probably would still be awesome!

Well for the past 3 years MS had them churn out nothing but kinect shovelware, "they still make quality games"... ya I wouldn't agree on that.

Dragonbums:

The issue that Microsoft doesn't understand is that Rare's demographic which are mainly kids, platformers, and collector enthusiasts are not on their system. They are on Nintendo's system.

I disagree with that. Xbox has had such demographics on their consoles for sometime. The issue is clearly that the quality of games dropped, output slowed right down, and the games weren't marketed well after the takeover.

Terramax:

Dragonbums:

The issue that Microsoft doesn't understand is that Rare's demographic which are mainly kids, platformers, and collector enthusiasts are not on their system. They are on Nintendo's system.

I disagree with that. Xbox has had such demographics on their consoles for sometime. The issue is clearly that the quality of games dropped, output slowed right down, and the games weren't marketed well after the takeover.

Where were they then? Because unless your talking about 12 year old CoD pricks, they sure as hell weren't there to buy enough Viva Pinata copies to show Microsoft that Rare was a success.

In fact, the only kid games I can recall on the Xbox were Rare games.
Viva Pinata 1 and 2 did okay. Nuts and Bolts flopped.
The only thing that was an average success was the Kinect games.
That's it.

My sister was playing classic Xbox games with me back when she was 7. Halo, Jet Set Radio, ToeJam and Earl 3, Return to Castle Wolfenstein, etc. Lots of the same kinds of games on the PS2 and Cube too.

I know this is really, really hard for some people to comprehend, but not all young kids want to play, or do play, video games with fluffy bunnies n stuff in them. And not all parents are ignorant enough to buy just those kinds of games for them.

Really Rare? Maybe you lost your spark because.....you just did. MS bought you for a reason, an you did well with Viva Pinata. So you only have yourself to blame if you release lacklustre titles.

Rare games were my childhood. As a kid who grew up with the SNES and N64, Rare was my favorite developer for around a decade. They were masters of multiple genres and considered the best or one of the best in every field they participated in. Even Nintendo's products failed to match Rare's in those generations in my opinion. It was such a glorious partnership too, these two companies just carried those consoles, making enough critically acclaimed games between them to match the other consoles who had far more third party developers.

It is pretty sad to see them both now after the split. Nintendo, for the past three generations have desperately needed more third party developers. How different would the Gamecube, Wii and Wii U be if they had Rare making 6+ amazing games from their flagship IP's, with at least one new IP, each generation like they did in the past? Of course the Wii at least, was still very successful, but they still lost a huge market share from the 'core' audience which might not have happened if they had Rare.

As for Rare, they have definitely lost their touch in the years since parting with Nintendo. Every game they have made, hasn't really held a candle to their efforts when working with Nintendo. Maybe they still would have lost their touch regardless, but it is hard to believe that after being such fantastic developers for three generations until they were bought by Microsoft. Particularly after seeing them adapt to and pioneer the 2D to 3D switch for consoles.

Yes, you should have stuck with Nintendo, so I would have had the chance to play as Joanna Dark in Smash Brothers.

Also, almost everything lost it's 'spark' when the business and culture changed around 2005.

I wonder how different things would have been with Activision.

And the sad thing is, is that it's happening to Insomniac. Not quite so fast but the Xbox One exclusivity of Sunset Overdrive has sort of sealed their fate. They made great single player games, why has Ted Price got such a hard on for Co-op and Multiplayer, when all their games that have tried it are terrible?

But back on topic, Rare was a big reason I loved my Nintendo 64; Banjo-Kazooie, Conkers Bad Fur Day, that Donkey Kong Game. I also loved Starfox Adventures, although I would admit that I liked the original pitched game with Krystal as the main character. A part of me died when I forced into Foxes shoes and I was counting the minutes until I got to play as the character again, I didn't. But still an enjoyable game.

If the Wii didn't have Metroid Prime 3, I could have let the whole thing fade into obscurity. I would sell that console off for a couple of bucks if it weren't for that game (and the HD re-releases with Motion Controls).

Evil Smurf:
that is the nature of corporations, soulless money making machines, I know this because I own lots of apple products :D

They weren't always like this. The majority of major businesses in the United States have been slowly taken over by the financial industry, which has and will be leading to an ever increasing number of problems both for the consumer and for the people working in them. The issue is that the financial industry is a service industry that doesn't understand the concerns of the employees, the work environment, or the importance of experimentation. To them, it all comes down to the bottom line and what makes for the most efficient route to gain more indentured labor rights (basically what the US dollar amounts to).

And here is where the problem lay: if in the process of gaining more dollars they have to fire and restructure the labor that is giving the dollar any worth, what exactly does that mean for the value of the dollar? It's not like the printed bills go anywhere, so even if there ultimately is less labor and fewer products, there is a set and steadily increasing number of printed dollars.

Japanese companies so far appear to be more like what US companies used to be like. They have financial guys working in the business, but they aren't running as much as advising. Also, there is more concern given to the "team" of workers, so it is more likely a group of individuals will be kept together, rather than rated individually and exchanged like car parts.

Terramax:
Well, it's nice to know that at least people AT Rare were fully aware their quality almost completely diminished with the acquisition. Anyways, this guy is just confirming what everyone already knows. Nintendo not buying Rare when the owners lost interest in the company has to be one of the worst decisions in gaming history.

I love how you can turn everything against Nintendo.
Seriously, Nintendo not rebuying Rare is a worst mistake than MS buying it?!

Until the day I die, Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie will be my favorite games of all time. There isn't a single thing wrong with either of those games just bristling with personality that I refuse to hear otherwise. Those games were my childhood, and formed the entire basis of my way of thinking today, to a certain extent.

In my mid-to-late teenage years, I wanted nothing more than to grow up and be a video game designer just so I could create games like BK/BT. They were so creative, so outlandish, so revered and ahead of their time that I wanted to be a part of that industry so bad.

I'm not going to say I am disappointed in Rare for what they have become, as I do quite enjoy their more recent titles as well. Kameo: Elements of Power was unique, as are the Viva Pinata titles. Hell, I even enjoy Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts in its own way. It's not a true BK title, but it still holds at least some of that creativity that I adore from the original pair.

Oh, and they can change their logo all they want. The company I choose to remember and will always remember in my heart will be Rareware.

image

You're still a winner to me.

We all sort of knew that.
Retro Studios seems to have filled Rare's original niche at Nintendo pretty nicely though.
Why did Nintendo sell their Rare stock anyway?

SonOfVoorhees:
Really Rare? Maybe you lost your spark because.....you just did. MS bought you for a reason, an you did well with Viva Pinata. So you only have yourself to blame if you release lacklustre titles.

when most of your games comes down as mandated by Microsoft to be on the piece of shit kinect, what more can you do than make piece of shit games?

Hell, let them make games by themselves for a few years and Rare might get back to Nintendo era quality games.

image

This is so surprising.

I completely did not notice this at all.

more like "rare lost most of its original talent"

i dont know if any of the original developers from their golden days even still work there.

saintdane05:
You now, I doubt there really is much I can comment on this, besides the fact that the guy who made Starfox Adventures has no right to tell me which games are good. Other than that...

Haha, this. I don't care that StarFox Adventures was a Starfox game that played like a Zelda game. I care that it was a really bad game.

I'd really love if Rare could come back somehow :(

Cursed Frogurt:

saintdane05:
You now, I doubt there really is much I can comment on this, besides the fact that the guy who made Starfox Adventures has no right to tell me which games are good. Other than that...

Haha, this. I don't care that StarFox Adventures was a Starfox game that played like a Zelda game. I care that it was a really bad game.

Pretty much. Hell, saying it played like a Zelda game is giving it too much credit if you ask me.

Honestly, I think Rare lost their mojo long before Microsoft bought them. Aside from Goldeneye and Perfect Dark I didn't actually like anything they did post-SNES era, and Killer Instinct was always a terrible fighting game franchise. Never really understood why people liked it.

But at least even with their N64 games, most of them had somewhat interesting and creative characters and worlds. By the time the Gamecube came around they didn't even have that any more.

Then again, I guess when a lot of your talent leaves to form Free Radical and make games that don't suck we can only continue to expect so much from you.

I have not forgotten what you did.

I must not cry, I must not cry.

No, really?

I refuse to believe that.

I mean, with such magnificent titles as Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts and Kinect Sports, how could you say that Rare is a mere shadow of the company they used to be?

Rare was awesome in the 90's and it's shit today's days since Microsoft got involved? "No shit" the people of the world echo.

CAPTCHA: "Roll Over" pretty much what they made them do..

Gotta give MS some credit, if EA bought them, everyone would be fired and the name would be changed to EA Southwest or something.

Still doesn't excuse Rare for not making a good game in over a decade.

Yeah... we all kinda knew that... but I digress, maybe they started to lose their shine after Conker's Bad Fur Day, because it's generally accepted that Star Fox Adventures is a mediocre game at best (one that I really liked... my guilty pleasure I guess :/).

But other than that, they'll always remain as the guys that made some of the most awesome games in existance, also, Retro Studios kinda fill that niche pretty nicely and I'm hopeful for what Gory Detail can accomplish on the WiiU after their little robot dog game.

Dragonbums:

The issue that Microsoft doesn't understand is that Rare's demographic which are mainly kids, platformers, and collector enthusiasts are not on their system. They are on Nintendo's system.

What Microsoft doesn't seem to understand is that Rare made all-sorts of different types of games, not just kid games. But Microsoft pigeon-holed them as a kiddy company and a way to get Nintendo's demographics from early on. A good example would be Conker: Live & Reloaded. The Rare team were looking forward to putting out an uncensored remake of Conker's Bad Fur Day for the Xbox, which would have been perfect for the system and would've faced far less opposition than it did on Nintendo. But Microsoft, who obviously didn't get it and had clearly pegged Conker as a 'cute, cartoon squirrel' actually censored the game more than Nintendo did, and the remake ended up being a piece of shit.

There were numerous other instances of Microsoft constantly getting in Rare's way, they cancelled a lot of Rare's projects because they thought they wouldn't sell. When Rare did put out a game, Microsoft gave it very little promotion (shitty Kinect games aside) and generally Microsoft just treated them badly.

I've always hated Microsoft for what they did to Rare. Seeing them get their just desserts with the Xbone criticisms is the perfect payback. Let's hope it bombs.

As for Retro being a Rare 'clone', they really aren't. There is remarkably little similarity aside from competency and being a western studio, Retro is dedicated mostly to working on Nintendo properties like Metroid and Donkey Kong. Rare revived Donkey Kong but other than that they mostly made their own games.

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