Microsoft’s head of the Xbox division states that the failed reboot of Rare’s first-person shooter GoldenEye 007 always boils down to being about a “rights issue.”

Following the recent online emergence of GoldenEye 007 remastered gameplay footage for Xbox 360, it’s quite possible that many fans of the classic Nintendo 64 title have been wondering what exactly caused the project to get cancelled, or to an even greater extent, has stopped a reboot from ever happening. Interestingly enough, the explanation is both simple, yet complicated as far as its legal implications go, as Xbox boss Phil Spencer has stated that the whole matter stems from a “rights issue.”

As seen in the tweet below, a gaming fan recently shared the footage of GoldenEye 007‘s now-defunct gameplay for Xbox 360 with Spencer, asking him if it were indeed true that the James Bond first-person shooter was in development for the console. Although the Microsoft executive neither confirmed nor denied the direct line of questioning, he did, however, elucidate that a proper remaster or reboot has never come to be due to copyright concerns, and not because of technical issues, or worries about the quality of the final product.

@ShahnoorAli GoldenEye has always been a rights issue, not a "getting code to run" issue.
— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) August 24, 2016

For those unaware, back in 2007 and 2008, Rare was apparently trying to update the title for audiences during the last generation of consoles by partnering with Microsoft and Activison, the latter of which owns present and future rights to making James Bond games. However, that license doesn’t grant the company retroactive ownership of the title GoldenEye or of the actual character in Agent 007, which allows fan projects like GoldenEye: Source 5.0 to continue to exist and receive mod updates without having legal action be brought against it.

Perhaps most interesting is the fact that the GoldenEye 007 remaster for Xbox 360 resulted in Nintendo agreeing to a publishing deal with both Microsoft and Activision at the time. Unfortunately, though, the project was nixed for unknown reasons, with many speculating the reboot never seeing the light of day due to the logistical nightmare of navigating the property’s legal attributes.


In any event, it’s safe to say that GoldenEye 007 remains one of the most beloved titles in the gaming world, especially with fans continuing to talk about the shooter and pining for a proper sequel almost 14 years after its initial release for the Nintendo 64. After all, we continue to not only hear it brought up in one-on-one discussions, but also see it used as inspirational fodder for fan projects, such as the budding developer who remade the game’s Facility level with Unreal Engine several months ago.

Bearing all of this in mind, with GoldenEye 007‘s 15 year anniversary coming up in August 25, 2017, it’s possible that fans might receive some sort of special playable treat from Rare involving one of the best video games based on a movie, but the likelihood is considerably low. With that being the case, folks might just be relegated to pulling out the genuine article for old time’s sake, and reliving the 64-bit graphics in all of their glory.

The original GoldenEye 007 is available for Nintendo 64.

Source: Phil Spencer – Twitter