Rare restructures, Microsoft warns of earnings slip

[UPDATE] Following disappointing Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts sales, UK studio reorganizes to "speed" four projects in pipe; corporate parent says economic downturn will hit sales.

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In 2002, Microsoft paid $375 million to buy Rare Ltd., developer of such Nintendo 64 hits as GoldenEye 007, Perfect Dark, and Banjo-Kazooie. However, sales of Rare's subsequent releases have failed to recoup its then-record-setting purchase price. Despite solid reviews, Perfect Dark Zero, Kameo: Elements of Power, Viva Pinata, Viva Pinata: Party Animals, and Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts generated just over $66 million combined domestically over three years, according to the NPD Group.

Why is this bear smiling?

Now, after shutting down internal studios FASA, ACES, and Ensemble, Microsoft has set its reorganizational sights on Rare. In a statement released to GameSpot, studio manager Mark Betteridge said the UK-based shop is undergoing a restructuring that could result in layoffs.

"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," explained Betteridge.

Currently Rare has four unnamed projects in development, and Microsoft Game Studios reps did not say which--if any--would be affected by the changes. However, the reps did say that the publishing label "will be implementing a new approach to current projects in the pipeline" and that "a small number of current positions could be lost" at Rare as a result.

The Rare restructuring comes as Microsoft is grappling with wider issues related to the worldwide economic crisis. Just under a month after it announced that it was slashing 5,000 jobs due to falling profits, the software giant's CEO, Steve Ballmer, revealed that its sales will continue to slide.

"Revenues in our industry, and in our company, will be affected by the economic conditions," Ballmer told the Reuters news service yesterday.

Discussion

423 comments
patsfan1112
patsfan1112

hopefully they make another good banjo game in the next five years

rob_42
rob_42

rare's changed alot (staff wise) since the golden age of the snes (DK land 1/2/3 etc) and N64 (goldeneye, PD, banjo, conker's BFD, oh and Jet Force Gemini, that game's freakin awesome). im just not sure they're the same company creativly that they were know for (other opinions on this welcome..?) i just cant wait for the new port of perfect dark for XBLA, any updates on a release date?

gnrlstuart
gnrlstuart

im sorry but the games rar have churned out apart from perfect dark may have been good, but mini games with pinatas in them dont appeal to me. when a new perfect dark, or decent banjo, maybe a new cool ip comes out, they will sell.

hahamanin
hahamanin

its all u people's fault first of all...........i have asked many stupid people on xbox live b4 launch of banjo-kazooie that r u gonna but the game......n they just said(i think mostly frm A)its a stupid kids game .oh hell no................

VXLbeast
VXLbeast

Thats too bad. Rare made some awesome stuff, they deserve to survive. I hope to see mroe good things from them in the future.

Nicksonman
Nicksonman

Rare's downfall had nothing to do with the 360 or Microsoft - the 360 is just a console. The problem is in the developer's choices in the content of the games they make. Kameo and PDZ were great, but rather than go further with that level of quality and style in later games, they took the N&B route instead. Their choice, not Microsoft's. The only real disadvantage of being on a Microsoft system is that they can't use Nintendo characters, but that doesn't affect the quality of the title at all. I'm completely open to new characters if the games are quality. Besides, the 360's hardware can do a lot more for Rare than the Gamecube or Wii ever could, but because of their choices in their games, the potential hasn't been used. Rare is privileged to be allowed to work on such a hi-end system, but they changed their thinking in their ideas, and that's what stuffed them up. Microsoft didn't tell Rare to make Banjo 3 a vehicle-creation game - that was Rare's choice. Microsoft don't have any input on the content of the games, they just told Rare "Hey guys, here's a cheque, now make games exclusively for the 360" but they didn't tell them what or how to make the games. Blame Rare, not Microsoft.

BLuFAlc0n
BLuFAlc0n

THIS IS ALL Microsoft's Fault!!!! Rare became weaker, because a very ego-centric company must steal one of the best Game Developers of THE Best Video Game Company Ever! Result, the game developer became crap...... Microsoft needs to learn that Good Rare games, doesn't feel and suit well for the 360. In fact ALL Rare games released so far on the 360, ARE MEANT TO BE Gamecube GAMES!!! like: Kameo: Elements of Power Perfect Dark: Zero Viva Pinata Banjo-Kazooie ....and all Rare games. It's all Microsoft's FAULT! Because Microsoft SUCKS! There's NO Good Donkey Kong Games... There's NO DK Crew There's NO Good games MADE by Rare. It's a shame.........

LittleDuck
LittleDuck

I've always been a fan of rare, it's a shame to see them failing. Maybe they'll go back to nintendo. Although the day that happens the world will implode.

kbaily
kbaily

The problem is Rare is catering to an audience that doesn't exist on the 360. Rare has fun, cartoony, family games and your typical Xbox 360 owner is an adult male between the ages of 15 and 35 who wants to play bloody, online shoot em ups. Xbox continues to defend Rare with an almost Hilary Clintonesque sense of determination in efforts to push themsevles as a "family system" which is outright laughable given that all their top selling games are T and M rated games. It also doesn't help that Rare tried to "reinvent" Banjo instead of making a familiar platforming sequel that everyone wanted. If Rare doesn't want to get shut down, they need to stop this "experiementing" and crank out a few familiar sequels to Perfect Dark, Jet Force Gemini and Killer Instinct and make something that might actually sell on the Xbox for a change.

CoiledNewkirk
CoiledNewkirk

poor rare they try so hard to make these games that dont even sell well. yea lets face it, banjo was changed alot but it was still a good game if you played it. it just lacked the old banjo feeling we used to get when we were young. Kameo was excellent for an adventure game. Perfect dark great too. they should just make new ideas. If they make the most original game out their (like bungie did with the Halo series) Rare Would be back on their feat. Keyword: DECENT FRANCHISE.

Supremegamer64
Supremegamer64

I hope they REMAKE PERFECT DARK FOR XBLA. Nothing can stop them as they have all rights to PD. (Closest thing we may ever see to Goldeneye for XBLA)

truckerbozo
truckerbozo

I tell ya, those crazy kids over at Nintendo! What were they thinking ditching RARE? HEHEHEHEHEHEHE

dark_surge
dark_surge

As sorry as I feel for Rare, they really set themselves up for this by getting bought by Microsoft. Now people are going to get laid off because Microsoft isn't pulling the profits they were expecting by buying Rare. Maybe if microsoft wouldn't have bought Rare for 375 MILLION they wouldn't have such high expectations for sales. To put in perspective, Rare would have had to sold almost 1.5 million copies of every game they've released for the 360 to keep up with Microsoft's deep pockets.

CharlieFubar
CharlieFubar

banjo with cars and gummi pieces from kingdom hearts = a very dumb idea someones not paying attention at microsoft

hkisam
hkisam

PLEASE GOD SHOW US A NEW CONKER

firehawk110
firehawk110

(Shadowfire41:................wait.....Conker.....and RPG.....together? ..............Someone mail that idea to Rare right now!) Are you kidding me? A conker rpg? That would suck

edant79
edant79

For the most part, Rare's success was mainly based on timing and innovation. Now that there property of MS, I honestly can't see them going back to there roots. And sequels just ain't gonna cut it. They need something fresh.

remi06
remi06

rare is still a good company but they just need to go back to there roots. THEY ADDED CARS TO BANJO WTF RARE. But im sure if they do make a new conker which they better it'll be great

Shadow_Fire41
Shadow_Fire41

review ninja is right, we got too many damn shooters and thats all most gamers play, and there are too many casual gamers, i also agree that rare should make a RPG, that would be interesting, especially if it was a Conker RPG! ................wait.....Conker.....and RPG.....together? ..............Someone mail that idea to Rare right now!

Shadow_Fire41
Shadow_Fire41

lets see what they did wrong. A. no new conker. B. they changed Banjo too much. C. relied to much on Rare D. your complaint here.

KhanhAgE
KhanhAgE

If Rare was still with Nintendo and they had released Nuts & Bolts on the Wii, it would have sold like hot cakes I bet.

3xthrtx3
3xthrtx3

I think Rare's Banjo Kazooie and Conker (including the remake) were awesome. But Conker didn't sell and Banjo is not a Mario or Crash Banicoot. You guys are right Rare is not a golden ticket. Too bad Microsoft bet the farm on them. It wasted so much valuable marketing time and effort on them hoping for Nintendo like success. I think they should just drop Rare altogether. Why do the reward such failure? A restructuring just doesn't make sense with the track record and the economy.

Hillsy_
Hillsy_

@reviewninja - good point.. Maybe Microsoft felt they needed a contrasting range of games, like a full scale to the spectrum. The Wii has Nintendo, who create charming games - Mario, Kirby, Zelda etc... Maybe Microsoft felt Rare would make there own charming games too - Banjo, Kameo, Viva Pinata etc.. I think developers should always try and appeal to a range of gamers. If Banjo was made for the Wii, and looked as good as Mario Galaxy did on the Wii then it would have sold, sold alot; especially since the Wii doesn't have many titles worth your time. I don't think Rare's best days are over, I believe they have to adapt to the change they face with the ever closer pressures from Microsoft.

senorbusyman
senorbusyman

WELL WE KNOW WHO TO BLAME FOR OUR ECONOMY CRISIS...BUSH AND DICK 4 MESSING AROUND WITH OUR MONEY AND USING IT 4 THERE PURPOSES BUT NOW WITH THE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE GOING UP COMPANIES ARE FORCED TO LAY OFF EMPLOYEES CUZ OF THE MONEY BUSH AND DICK WASTED ON THE "NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND ACT" AND THUS BRINGING GAMING COMPANIES TO GO OUT OF BUSINESS AND MAYBE GAME PRICES SHOULD LOWER PRICES SINCE A LOT OF US PRACTICALLY SOLD OUR CONSOLES ON EBAY, OR GAMESTOP BUT 4 NOW WE JUST GOTTA SAVE OUR MONEY!!!!

Kravyn81
Kravyn81

The sad truth is MS thought it was buying a golden ticket when they purchased Rare, and they were sure they could repeat history with the success Rare has had. Unfortunately that was doomed from the beginning because when Rare was successful the entire gaming landscape was different. MS thought they were betting with an ace up their sleeve and that's just not the case. Who really knows the reasons WHY Rare has failed to perform, but I associate it with the simple reason of TIMES CHANGE. There's a reason nostalgia feels good but cannot be repeated; because it isn't meant to. I'm afraid Rare's best days have passed through no one's deliberate intentions. It's simply the time and mind frame we live in now.

reviewninja
reviewninja

shooters are cool but there are too many of them, and too many mediocre ones at that (PDZ,Haze,Area51,Turok,time shift, and others) im a fan of the hardcore games but have grown a little annoyed with the repetitive gameplay and lack of originality thus, me losing the title of "hardcore gamer" now i enjoy playing all different types of games. i think that Rare would most likely make more money if they were with sony or nintendo but i dont think that microsoft is too interested in games that aimed toward a younger/family audience. as a 360 owner id love to see a non-shooter game come out and be great (a la LBP) but i seriously doubt that 360 fans would get it because i think that this generation has developed a strong liking for "hardcore" games and has forgotten that great games can be made outside the shooter genre. now RPGs are great on the 360 so maybe rare could develop an action-adventure/RPG game and that could possibly sell pretty good. but sadly banjo would only appeal to minority 360 gamers. if they make a new banjo that is a true banjo game id buy it. i wish that rare had stayed with nintendo, they could make more money developing games anywhere else but microsoft imo.

reviewninja
reviewninja

i would like for rare to return to their roots and be the top tier game creators that they once were when with nintendo. bring back battle toads, make banjo a platformer again, bring back conker, make a sequel to kameo, bring back killer instinct and lastly i think it would be interesting if they take over development for the dead blinx character and revamp him and put him in a good game.

Lancing
Lancing

I just hope whoever is responsible for the music in Banjo Kazooie doesn't get laid off. I can't get enough of that. Also, what''s this about Bungie being in jeopardy? Is that really possible?

chinat
chinat

I would like to see another iteration of Kameo. This game as to playability and graphics is really great. For sometime we have not see anything along the lines of Mech Warrior, it would seem that another release, not a remake of the original would be in line, especially for on line play; it would be fantastic.

ronnet
ronnet

ISuPrEmAcY32I, most people would buy it just for the memories and they wouldnt want it any other way. I doubt many people would buy it just to see what its about. Besides they would find that out in the trail version anyway. As for Rare, its disappointing to see that their games arent selling that well, Im not a big fan myself either but they always make quality games. Perhaps its time to make something more aimed at the 360 audience? With their talent and interesting concept they could get out of that hole in a matter for years. Personally I wouldnt mind seeining a adventure/RPG combination set in a Fantasy world made by Rare but then a bit more serious and with a dark undertone.

ISuPrEmAcY32I
ISuPrEmAcY32I

to everybody hoping for goldeneye 007 on the arcade: Goldeneye was an amazing shooter and I have nostalgic memories about it. But it came in a pre-halo era. Try going back to play it on your N64. The controls of it and the feel just seem so antiquated now. Holding the R button to aim and move your arm around the screen is REALLY tough to get used to again. I love Goldeneye, I just don't think it would work in the era that is shooters today.

dantex81
dantex81

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

solidbanjo
solidbanjo

those american ba%%ards are laying off our hard working british brothers to hell with you americans

casket56
casket56

Rare are losing out, producers of the bear and bird but them going bust may sound quite ubsurd ...sorry still in the 90's and rhyming my life like gruntilda

Birdman1333
Birdman1333

Banjo Nuts and Bolts is a great game. Unfortunately, I think the reviewers have a hard time giving a game like this a 9, which I think it merits. The reviewers get tripped up with games that are a little "different". Too many adult gamers see the bright graphics and think it isn't for them. It really is a shame.

SonicDBZRacer
SonicDBZRacer

A new Banjo-Kazooie platformer Rare, do it now!

joesh89
joesh89

rare went down the toilet as soon as Microsoft bought them.

Lysix
Lysix

I love Rare games. Such a breath of fresh air to the otherwise stale market of crappy first person shooters.

SquareEnixFan13
SquareEnixFan13

I would also like to adress the people who say Rare's games don't come close to hollow games like Fallout 3,Gears Of Wars 2, and BioShock. Maybe you guys would be able to appreciate Rare more if you could see past your dark, polluted, Gears of Wars playing souls. Rare makes very unique and fun games (like Banjo-Kazooie, and Kameo). Personally I don't like games where you cut through people with chainsaws (as seen in Gears Of War), that seems disgusting to me, and I don't see any reason why people would like that stuff. Get your heads on straight phsycos!

Henninger
Henninger

I hope 1 of those 4 games that they're working on is Perfect Dark 2. I havent heard anything else on it in about 2 years now. I also wouldnt mind a new Killer Instinct game.

jackophant
jackophant

Rare's games are great but the 360 fanbase is more into mature games like Gears of War, Halo, and GTAIV. If Rare had released those games on the Wii they would have made much more money.

Jebril
Jebril

Jet Force Gemini would sell well as well as Killer Instinct, as well as a proper Banjoo & Kazooie, problem is RARE didn't make any of those, the market for the games it made (put aside Perfect Dark) aren't too big. I understand that M$ wanted to make games targeted at younger audience but the younger audience also plays Halo and more mainstream games as well (thus the reason why you have 12 yr olds on Xbox Live)

penpusher
penpusher

this doesn't surprise me in the least, rare have always taken a long time to make their games and as such it is now biting them in the bum

Cubbies
Cubbies

Make a good Perfect Dark, like the one on the 64.

Hillsy_
Hillsy_

One thing I will say about Rare, is they can make lovely vibrant colourful graphics. I thought the first ever trailer for Banjo Nuts & Bolts was fantastic. A shame really they are in trouble, I hope they do get back on track though. Maybe they should have stayed with Nintendo...

DarkLordPJ
DarkLordPJ

oh no the guys that made perfect dark a ****ing **** piece of **** are in trouble hang on a sec while i yawn