Last October, Xbox 360 veteran Scott Henson signed on as studio manager of Rare. At the time, he said the studio's new focus on the Kinect motion-sensing system would be a boon to the venerable shop. "Kinect Sports is the opening salvo for what I believe will be an exciting, Kinect-enabled future for Rare. I have two words to describe the studio's future: bold and bright."
Unfortunately, it appears that Henson's words didn't apply to Rare's art department. According to an Edge report, Rare's entire art department has been told that their positions are now at risk of being eliminated and that they must reapply to new managerial positions at Rare's new offices in Birmingham, England. The rest of the art staff will apparently be made up of temporary workers.
The catch? Edge says that there are apparently 42 people currently working in Rare's art department and just 23 art jobs awaiting them at the Birmingham offices. Therefore, ostensibly 19 staffers will be let go in a human-resources version of musical chairs.
Microsoft responded to GameSpot's request for comment with the following statement:
"We can confirm that a small number of employees in the art department of Rare Studios were informed that their roles are at risk of redundancy. While redundancies are never easy, these organizational changes are part of Rare's ongoing strategy and operational planning which typically coincides with the shipment of a title. We are working closely with the affected employees to support them through this transition and help them apply for other roles within Microsoft."
The company did offer a bit more clarification to Edge, saying:
"Whilst we're not discussing the exact numbers involved, I can assure you that it's far fewer than you've indicated and represents a small percentage of the total Rare team."
Ironically, the layoffs come as Kinect Sports proves to be a solid hit for Microsoft--and Rare is performing well. "Rare is currently in a position of some considerable strength as Kinect Sports sales have far exceeded global expectations and the title is No. 1 on the Kinect platform," the company said.