It’s not been a great time for Rare. Many suspected the developer’s future would be called into question after the announcement that the Xbox One was going to be available without Kinect. Most especially because Rare had been charged with creating Kinect titles for the Xbox One, and all their recent games — the Kinect Sports titles and Kinect Sports Rivals — have been tied to the motion-control device.
Those worried about the state of the British studio then had those fears solidified after Rare announced a number of layoffs in May, allegedly tied to the poor sales of Kinect Sports Rivals. Just under twenty people were informed they were losing their jobs, including some responsible for much-loved titles like Banjo-Kazooie and Viva PiÃ±ata.
However, Phil Harrison — the boss of Microsoft Studios Europe — has tried to calm fears that the much-loved studio’s future is in jeopardy. Speaking with Eurogamer, Harrison confirmed that Microsoft still has a plan in mind for Rare, and that the tech giant was supporting the studio “in every way we can.” In fact, he also announced that Rare has some new titles in the works.
“I’m very happy to go on record to alleviate any of those concerns you might have,” said Harrison. He described Microsoft as being “very fortunate” to have Rare, who Microsoft acquired in 2002 in a buyout worth $375 million, as a developer. He also described Rare, as well as fellow UK developer Lionhead, as the “crown jewels of Microsoft Studios.”
Not only did Harrison confirm that Microsoft has given Rare full support, but he also stated that the studio is working on some new games. “Rare is working on a couple of things at the moment, which we will announce at the right time,” said Harrison. There were no more details to be shared on the projects, but Harrison said that he was “really excited by the things they’re doing and I believe you will be as well when you hear about them.”
Harrison finished by reiterating his belief in what Rare can achieve, calling them “an incredible talent” and that the studio has some “very ambitious plans for the future.” Some may still be skeptical over this arm around the shoulder from Microsoft, though. After all, Microsoft also said they were having a “great time trying to work out” what Rare’s next title would be just days before the layoffs were announced.
It also remains to be seen just how ambitious Rare’s plans will be. The studio may well be hampered by the fact that new Xbox One owners have the choice of not owning a Kinect device, therefore limiting the player base that Rare can sell to. Then again, perhaps Rare will take a step back from the Kinect and work on something other than motion control. Given the huge number of beloved franchises the developer has in its locker, including the likes of Perfect Dark and Conker, it’s not as though they don’t have something special to build upon.
What do you think, Ranters? Are you excited that Rare still has the support of Microsoft? What do you want the next game to be?