News Article

Ex-Rare Staffer: Exodus Wouldn't Have Happened Under Nintendo

Posted by Damien McFerran

Former employee admits that Microsoft sale has changed the company

In September 2002, Microsoft purchased UK developer Rare for $375 million, effectively ending the firm's long-running association with Nintendo - a relationship which resulted in some of the best games ever created.

Fast forward a decade, and Rare is a very different beast. Many key staff members have left, and Microsoft has installed a new set of managers to replace them, including Scott Henson (Xbox), Craig Duncan (ex-Sumo Digital and Codemasters) and Simon Woodroffe (creator of Simon the Sorcerer).

However, in an interview with RareFanDaBase, former designer Chris Seavor expresses the opinion that the company would have retained its original staff roster if it had remained under Nintendo's wing:

RFDB: If Rare were still with Nintendo today, do you think the company would have still been the same as it was all those years ago?

Chris Seavor: Pretty much. Tim and Chris would still be around, Mark [Betteridge], Simon, loads of other people who subsequently left as well…even me maybe. A company isn’t defined by bricks and mortar. It’s a people thing, so yeah , bar a few tweaks it would have been pretty much the same, both the good and the bad.

Of course, change isn't always a negative thing. The team at Rare right now is packed with proven industry professionals with enviable track records. But it's always tempting to wonder "what if?", especially when you look back at the sparkling list of Nintendo/Rare collaborations, which includes such hits as GoldenEye 007, Jet Force Gemini and Diddy Kong Racing.

[via gonintendo.com, rarefandabase.com]

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User Comments (41)

Tsuchinoko

#1

Tsuchinoko said:

I...hmm, maybe their presence in Japan has changed a lot as well in recent years. I can't name a single Rare game in the last several generations of consoles.

Trikeboy

#2

Trikeboy said:

Rare used to be god like in this industry. Microsoft were jealous and tore them down. What I don't get is why the people who left don't form a new team and head back to Nintendo.

Kirk

#3

Kirk said:

I use to go for curry's with that guy...when I worked at Rare.

antdickensAdmin

#5

antdickens said:

I guess things come together at a certain time with a certain group of people, if the team was still together now it's not a guarantee they would be making equally good games now, sadly these things always fracture over time. I don't think anyone should be blaming Microsoft or Nintendo for this.

MikeDanger

#6

MikeDanger said:

All this team needed to do was make a new Killer Instinct... but it isnt going to happen.

HugoSmits

#7

HugoSmits said:

They only went to Microsoft because Nintendo didn't want them. So putting the full blame on Microsoft is a bit weird.

Also their working style wouldn't have worked in the currently industry. This is really visible in their Star Fox Adventures game. Nintendo knew Rare wasn't able to make the leap to next-gen and that's why they didn't buy them.

Gunorgunorg

#8

Gunorgunorg said:

The picture in the article doesn't neccesarily fit. Nintendo aquired Banjo and Kazooie, so there could be games for the Wii U

DestinyMan

#9

DestinyMan said:

We'll never know what it would've been like if Rare games such as Donkey Kong Racing had been produced for the Gamecube and Wii, but it's true that some of the people whom made Rare the studio it was have left for other things, like the Stamper brothers.

Technically, however, they could make a game on the 3DS since Microsoft doesn't have a handheld of their own. Just look at Diddy Kong Racing DS.

XD375

#10

XD375 said:

@Gunorgunorg

That was just a silly rumour.

And to everyone else, Nintendo is just as much to blame as Microsoft. Nintendo had first dibs on Rare and they rejected. It's been said many times. The only two companies interested in buying Rare were Activision and Microsoft.

Linkuini

#12

Linkuini said:

When is everybody gonna move on from this? I stopped being sore about Rare years ago.

SLiM

#13

SLiM said:

They need to get back together with Nintendo and make a new Killer Instinct. Then all will be forgiven :D

hydeks

#14

hydeks said:

Rare was the best company, than it went to Microsoft and we got games like Grabbed by the Ghoulies....so sad :( Now Rare is ripping off Wii Sports and doing the whole casual thing with Kinect Sports, wow, how the great have fallen.

@Linkuini agreed, I stopped caring years ago, especially when they went to Microsoft and made two ok games (Kameo and Perfect Dark Zero) than after that, they have completely SUCKED. Retro, so far, is WAAAAY better than Rare ever was.

TheChosen

#15

TheChosen said:

I dunno. Around the time Playstation hit the scene several employees left Rare and formed their own studio, because they weren't happy with Rare's decision to work with Nintendo exclusively. Considering how Gamecube and Wii went, I could see that happen again if they werent bought out.

Banker-Style

#16

Banker-Style said:

If Nintendo brought back Rare,the only thing they'd use them for would be when they want a new Mini-Game complatation made.

WhiteTrashGuy

#17

WhiteTrashGuy said:

@ A-Hungry-Banker

That's all Microsoft is using them for, their last 2 games were KINECT SPORTS 1 & 2. Rare would be handling the Mario Kart series most likely and ok course DKC. I also imagine we would have seen a pretty amazing follow-up to JET FORCE GEMINI on Wii U. And for me Rare began to die after CONKER'S BFD. I love that game, but to me Free Radical took up the mantle that fell from Rare.

iZAYA47

#18

iZAYA47 said:

It would be nice if they made a remake for the 3DS perhaps. Nuts and Bolts....xD

TheDreamingHawk

#19

TheDreamingHawk said:

I never liked Rare in the first place, so I can't see why there are so many comments on Nintendo's facebook saying BUY RARE over and over. It's not like they made a game all by themself that was good. RETRO STUDIOS is better

sketchturner

#20

sketchturner said:

StarFox Adventures doesn't give me much hope that the Rare magic was still left even before they went to M$.

@TheDreamingHawk, I'm not sure why you say Retro Studios is better. They haven't made a good game all by themselves either. Don't get me wrong--I LOVE Retro, but they have worked with Nintendo just like Rare did.

bahooney

#21

bahooney said:

What has Retro made besides the Prime series and Donkey Kong Country Returns? It's silly to call one studio better than the other when one of the studios has a sprawling portfolio of gold and the other, good though it is, hasn't developed nearly as many titles.

Boo_Buster

#22

Boo_Buster said:

@hydeks agreed. It's a bummer Rare is no longer the secondary weapon for Nintendo, but the levels Retro created or re-created in Mario Kart 7 were great, the Metroid Prime games are great and are still fun, and Donkey Kong Country Returns is one of the best 2.5D platformers of the past 5 years

birthgirth

#23

birthgirth said:

I wish I could be playing follow-up games to Donkey Kong 64 and Banjo-Kazooie right now. Rare was great. ;(

JebbyDeringer

#24

JebbyDeringer said:

Starfox Adventures is a bad example because it was created for the N64 and then rush ported to the Gamecube.

seronja

#25

seronja said:

man i wish there could be a deal that nintendo would buy back rare and find the stamper brothers to get back and mentor developers, and start making games for the wii-u such as killer instinct 3, banjo-threeie, conkers bad fur day 2 and PERFECT DARK 2!! if retro and rare would work together just imagine how many epic games would they make... but i belive rare will close the studio before any of that will happen =/

aaronsullivan

#26

aaronsullivan said:

Love the games you chose to attribute to RARE.
I miss Diddy Kong Racing the most: Adventure game plus Kart racing (and flying) is sorely missed.

Jet Force Gemini was also amazing and completely under appreciated, the game play could translate into a brand new version for the Wii U and it would feel fresh. It was one of those late Rare games where they extended out the game play length so far that it got a bit repetitive (Donkey Kong 64 being the most egregious offender), but the music helped with that.

I really wish Nintendo would just go Diddy Kong on Mario Kart with an Adventure mode, maybe in the Mario Galaxy universe to bring in a bit more variety than the typical Mario landscapes. Diddy Kong Racing was so good.

FonistofCruxis

#28

FonistofCruxis said:

It would be great if they were still with Nintendo, especially now that I know that some of the members that left the team would still be with Rare if they were still with Nintendo.

misswliu81

#29

misswliu81 said:

can't nintendo just buy the I.Ps off them instead? just jet force gemini, killer instinct, banjo and perfect dark. they can let rare keep the rest.

XD375

#30

XD375 said:

Banjo-Kazooie wouldn't work without Leigh Loveday's humour. Nintendo would have to hire him as a writer if they wanted to buy Banjo-Kazooie.

But yeah, the employees who left Rare were from the Goldeneye team:
http://img90.imageshack.us/img90/4033/timelinenew4bl.jpg

The DKC/B-K team went onto make Viva Piñata and Nut & Bolts, which were objectively Microsoft's highest quality Rare games. Nuts & Bolts just shouldn't have been a Banjo game...

Undead_terror

#31

Undead_terror said:

If only nintendo would buy the contracts or whatever for killer instinct, BK and a few other games, I wouldn't care for rare.

Henmii

#32

Henmii said:

Does this mean that old Rareware employees don't hold a grudge against Nintendo? Because I always though part of the reason why Rare went to Microsoft was because they where pissed off by Nintendo's behaviour! That's just what I suspect!

VincentV

#33

VincentV said:

Makes me want to see Microsoft get them developing great games again. They're wasting talent. Rare may not be what it used to be, but I think they still have some potential. If only it was used for more original games.

doctor_doak

#34

doctor_doak said:

Yep, and you can pretty much say the same for EA and Activision. They just have a different way of seeing the world, and they operate through very rigid corporate structures. They are structures that their execs see as producing big profits, but they are structures that are largely indifferent to the idea of fostering an environment of creativity and innovation.

A lot of Rare staffers left because they felt they'd lost control over what they were doing through interference from above at Microsoft. It wasn't necessarily that they were being 'told' what to do, but more to do with the heavy-handed bureaucracy and corporate expectations, which detracted from what they were trying to achieve as makers of imaginative and innovative games.

Their relationship with Nintendo mightn't have been 100% perfect, but I think it worked because Nintendo sort of offered Rare advice and assistance, but largely left them to create the games themselves, i.e. Rare were in the UK and Nintendo are in Japan. Rare had a lot of freedom to create software as they saw fit with a philosophy that's at odds with the strict corporate structure of the likes of Microsoft. That's why it didn't work as I understand it. It's a real shame, because those N64 Rare games still stand out in my gaming memory.

Imagine if you had Retro, Rare (with its former staff) and Platinum Games developing exclusively alongside Nintendo for the Wii U. There would simply be no debate about which console had the best exclusives!

gundam00

#35

gundam00 said:

I don't have enough tissue to wipe away all my tears! Banjo-Kazooie is one of my favorite games of all time! I miss playing it so much! It breaks my heart to see how Microsoft has treated Banjo-Kazooie since acquiring Rare. I know Microsoft has released Banjo-Kazooie on Xbox's virtual console, but they could at least release on Nintendo's VC or (preferably) remaster it for 3DS.

Gamer83

#36

Gamer83 said:

Nintendo had more to do with Rare's success than anything. Just look at what happened as soon as Nintendo parted ways with Rare, they built up Retro who has easily replaced, and I'd even go as far as to say surpassed, what Rare was. I don't put the blame on MS, I think there was something going on at Rare that was going to lead to inevitable downfall no matter who was controlling them. Maybe it wouldn't have been as drastic under Nintendo, because quite frankly they're a far better gaming company than MS, but it still would've happened. In the end though, it really is time to move on there's no way Nintendo would've sold its share in Rare if it believed the company could still have been a valuable asset. It's unfortunate how it's all unfolded but it's also something that is old news at this point.

doctor_doak

#37

doctor_doak said:

@Gamer83

Well, that's Chris Seavor saying that Rare would still more or less exist as it was under Nintendo...Martin Hollis has said similar things.

$375 million is nothing to be sneezed at, but when you have a developer that releases critically acclaimed games like Goldeneye, Banjo-kazooie, Donkey Kong, Blast Corps, Perfect Dark, Conker's Bad Fur Day, Diddy Kong Racing, and Banjo-Tooie in one console cycle....I mean Nintendo chose short term financial benefit over long term superiority over the competion in software development. I mean, those are the sort of titles that also shift console sales..

The Wii suffered in its later years because it was a SD device in an HD era...but also because it neglected the 'software' side of things. I think it was short-sighted of Nintendo to sell off one of the most talented developers going around at the time...and i just wish they'd round them up and get them working on games for the Wii U..

Zombie_Barioth

#38

Zombie_Barioth said:

Things couldn't have been too perfect if Rare decided to sellout to MS, but I agree it was rather short sighted of Nintendo to sell them thinking they could simply replace Rare.

With Nuts&Bolts it was MS's fault the game turned sour, they just kept pushing to change things thinking it would make the game better while I can only imagine ignoring the source material and what makes the series what it is.

I miss the old Rare and while I wish Nintendo never let them go I feel like the new Rare isn't even Rare anymore, to the point where even calling it a husk of its former self would be a compliment. At least we got Free Radical out of it.

sphomebiz

#40

sphomebiz said:

Nintendo did try to restrict them coming to the end of the n64 days. I think that we really needed a new Killer Instinct too, all new games from rare to be exact. and someone here said that rare would not be able to jump to next gen, that was a ridiculous statement. rare was known as one of the most advanced game developers when under nintendo. They were the first to put a 3d game on a 2d system. only they figured it out by purchasing tech that was ahead of every console at the time. plus their games used to be revolutionary anyway, giving myamoto himself competition. Donkey Kong Country, 007 GoldenEye, Banjo Kazooie Series, Conker's Bad Fur Day, Jet Force Jemini, Perfect Dark. Look under MS they made Perfect Dark Gold, was given an editors choice platinum rating, but I didn't see any kind of promotion. MS was concerned with Halo only. I wish rare would form a new team with the old guys and link up with Nintendo again or Square Enix. Those are the 2 best in the industry.

sphomebiz

#41

sphomebiz said:

I just visited wikipedia to look up killer instinct. here's what's at the bottom "On September 17, 2012, Microsoft renewed the Killer Instinct trademark."

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