Rare Restructures, Faces Layoffs

| 17 Feb 2009 15:45

Rare is facing possible layoffs as part of a Microsoft restructuring plan that has already forced layoffs and closures at other Microsoft-owned studios.

"As the entire industry struggles to address the increasing scale and cost of development, we too have felt a need to restructure our current approach so we can speed development and better manage the scale required to create high quality games," studio manager Mark Betteridge said. "With four projects recently underway, now is the right time to make this change."

The studio will be focusing its future efforts on furthering the success of Xbox Live, naturally, and of course continuing to put out "AAA game experiences," none of which seem to be in any jeopardy. Sounds like what they've been doing for some time now, but in the face of bigger things, the "company is reviewing the current composition of its development teams and there is the possibility that a small number of current positions could be lost as a result of these changes."

As Betteridge tells it, the restructuring may pave the way for a new model of game development in an increasingly volatile industry. "As we restructure to successfully execute against our shared strategy within this framework, we will be implementing a new approach to current projects in the pipeline that could serve as an industry-wide model for how to achieve a more efficient and scalable development process," he explained. It's sad when developers have to start portraying layoffs and restructuring as models of innovation - in the end it may turn out to be true, but for now it just sounds lie another way of putting a happy face on some grim developments.

Though the job losses may only be a "small number," Rare is nevertheless following in the footsteps of fellow Microsoft satellites Ensemble Studios of Halo Wars fame and ACES, the makers of the long-running Microsoft Flight Simulator, as it faces layoffs in the midst of a massive company-wide restructuring effort by Microsoft. Earlier this year, Microsoft announced that it would lay off around 5,000 employees across the entire company. The first wave of those layoffs hit the Entertainment and Devices division, notably resulting in the closure of studios like Ensemble and ACES as well as the departure of Games for Windows Live general manager Chris Early.

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