Who Killed Rare? - Article

#1 Edited by Vegetable_Side_Dish (1727 posts) -
http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2012-02-08-who-killed-rare 
 
A really insightful look at Rare's transfer from Nintendo to Microsoft, the management and human changes that happened as a result, and the effect on Rare's work. Includes quotes from members of Rare.  
  
There seem to have been two major factors, the lack of the special creative partnership Rare had with Nintendo:  
 

However, in time it became clear that everyone had underestimated how much of the studio's success was down to Nintendo's gentle steering. "It seemed like Microsoft was really a novice in the games industry and for some time they left us to try and see how things worked," Cook explains. "They wanted hit games for their console and since they weren't sure how to go about it they trusted Rare to do what was necessary. The problem here was that Rare was a very long way from the very corporate structure of Microsoft and when Rare had made games it wasn't in isolation from Nintendo but as a creative partnership. 

And Microsoft's corporate changes to the company, which were really a necessity for the expanding size of Rare, the games they were making, and the games market as a whole:  

"The changes were imperceptible at first, but became increasingly rapid as time went on," says Phil Tossell. Hired by Hollis in 1997, he cut his teeth on Diddy Kong Racing before working as lead engineer on Dinosaur Planet (which later became Starfox Adventures). He was present at the company through the Microsoft acquisition, and was promoted to Director of Gameplay in 2009 when he oversaw development of Kinect Sports. "For me personally, the atmosphere became much more stifling and a lot more stressful," he says. "There was an overall feeling that you weren't really in control of what you were doing and that you weren't really trusted either.  



 
 Oh, and did you know Activision was at one time the most likely buyer of Rare? I didn't. 
#2 Posted by believer258 (11902 posts) -

I sense a distaste of Microsoft emanating from this post.

I will not doubt that MS might have had something to do with Rare falling from grace, but it seems like both companies were at fault instead of just one.

#3 Posted by Vegetable_Side_Dish (1727 posts) -
@believer258: Don't need to make this into a combative thing. I'm glad Microsoft exist, they've done unbelievably great things for our world's technological advancement. I'm making a comment on one article, about one game studio, that is based on what I've read in the article.  
 
So with that aside, which is the second company you're referring to? Rare?
#4 Posted by SlashDance (1814 posts) -

Viva Piñata and Nuts and Bolts are the best Rare games. That is all.

#5 Edited by Seppli (10251 posts) -

@Vegetable_Side_Dish: @believer258:

As far as I have followed the story, if I remember correctly, it was a case of buying the body without the head. Like the founders and visionaries sold-out and left the ship, which doesn't really float that well without its captains. That'd be like somebody buying Rockstar North without the Housers.

EA did it right with Bioware. They bought Bioware and made the visionaries and captains (the doctors) key players in their corporation. Say what you will about Bioware's recent games (I like them well enough personally), I find EA as a whole has become much better under Riccitiello, who likely is a key architect in the incorporation of Bioware and its leaders into EA's corporate structure. For such a big ass corporate as all hell corporation, it's kind of a neat outfit with a surprising amount of artistic and social integrity - at least looking in from the outside. I guess that comes from being big enough to be able to shuffle their workload and workforce and keep things relatively stable.

What I'm saying is, if you buy something, you better make certain you get the whole thing and not just some hollow shell with all the cream filling missing. If you buy the cookie shells off the cream filling of an Oreo, you are doing it wrong. It's the cream filling you want. The cookies are optional. You don't pay somebody 200 millions to go and retire on an island, whilst you are stuck with their business and no idea on how to run it. You pay them 200 millions to run your new shop.

#6 Posted by MikkaQ (10288 posts) -

@SlashDance said:

Viva Piñata and Nuts and Bolts are the best Rare games. That is all.

I tend to agree. Goldeneye and Perfect Dark were important shooters, but they really don't hold up very well. I feel like Nuts and Bolts could stay interesting even in 10 years' time.

#7 Posted by Tim_the_Corsair (3065 posts) -

It looks like Rare...*puts on sunglasses*...got well-done.

YEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAHHHH

#8 Posted by Chop (1997 posts) -

@SlashDance said:

Viva Piñata and Nuts and Bolts are the best Rare games. That is all.

All three are great games but...Banjo Tooie and Donkey Kong Country 2...Perfect Dark...

#9 Posted by MooseyMcMan (11003 posts) -

@Tim_the_Corsair said:

It looks like Rare...*puts on sunglasses*...got well-done. YEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAHHHH
Moderator
#10 Posted by DarthOrange (3861 posts) -

Everyone who bought the Kinect killed Rare!

#11 Edited by hawkster (13 posts) -

@Chop said:

All three are great games but...Banjo Tooie and Donkey Kong Country 2...Perfect Dark...

I loved DK2 and PD back in the day. But they really have not aged well. I think Nintendo had decent foresight to sell off Rare when they did.

#12 Posted by Contrarian (1143 posts) -

How simple is this? Nintendo killed Rare when they decided to sell them. Sure, it wasn't fatal, but they went on to life support and Microsoft pulled the plug, but still, Nintendo is to blame for it and it is a crying shame as they belonged with Nintendo and it was a sad day they were sold.

#13 Posted by jozzy (2042 posts) -

Well to be honest, it didn't sound like a great place to work for before they got bought by microsoft. Teams in different barns not allowed to communicate with eachother, 60 hours of overtime a week (sounds impossible to be honest), no internet on the workplace and your bosses trying to foster a very competitive workplace.

And Rare is selling way more of the Kinect Sport Games than they probably ever did, so it's more the gamers fault for not buying their supposedly awesome games.

#14 Posted by maskedarcstrike (701 posts) -

I always wanted a Blast Corps 2.............. *sigh*.

@Seppli: I chuckled at the pay someone 200 million dollars so they can retire on an island. You're right, it really doesn't make much sense.

#15 Posted by eugenesaxe (199 posts) -

@SlashDance: Yeah, using phrases like "That is all", besides being pointless, really makes you look stupid, esp. when you're wrong.

Hope that helps :)

#16 Posted by huntad (1939 posts) -

@MooseyMcMan said:

@Tim_the_Corsair said:

It looks like Rare...*puts on sunglasses*...got well-done. YEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAHHHH
#17 Posted by Hailinel (24748 posts) -

@jozzy said:

Well to be honest, it didn't sound like a great place to work for before they got bought by microsoft. Teams in different barns not allowed to communicate with eachother, 60 hours of overtime a week (sounds impossible to be honest), no internet on the workplace and your bosses trying to foster a very competitive workplace.

And Rare is selling way more of the Kinect Sport Games than they probably ever did, so it's more the gamers fault for not buying their supposedly awesome games.

Thoe circumstances really aren't that unusual in the industry, sadly. Development teams frequently work insane hours of overtime during crunch periods in order to meet deadlines.

Online
#18 Posted by Psykhophear (939 posts) -

The Donkey Kong Country trilogy are my favorite Rare games. I excessively played them many years ago.

Rare did a terrible mistake by joining forces with Microsoft. Like the article said, Microsoft were noobs in gaming at the time and Rare should had known better than to trust a company that have not been any good progress in technology til today. They should've stayed with Nintendo as their subsidiary. It still pains me to think that a once golden gaming company is now not even a bronze-platted company, only making mediocre games. I'm still waiting for sequels for Battletoads and Killer Instinct!

What hurts me even more was when Rare rejected MundoRare's proposal to make a documentary about them saying it wasn't "on message". MundoRare, a now-defunct Rare fanbase, had good intentions of supporting the company and to see that not allowing these guys (who have film backgrounds) to shoot a documentary about them is puzzling and stupid.

Rare may still exists today but to me, the company died years ago. Rest in peace.

#19 Posted by Vegetable_Side_Dish (1727 posts) -
@Seppli said:

@Vegetable_Side_Dish: @believer258:

As far as I have followed the story, if I remember correctly, it was a case of buying the body without the head. Like the founders and visionaries sold-out and left the ship, which doesn't really float that well without its captains. That'd be like somebody buying Rockstar North without the Housers.

EA did it right with Bioware. They bought Bioware and made the visionaries and captains (the doctors) key players in their corporation. Say what you will about Bioware's recent games (I like them well enough personally), I find EA as a whole has become much better under Riccitiello, who likely is a key architect in the incorporation of Bioware and its leaders into EA's corporate structure. For such a big ass corporate as all hell corporation, it's kind of a neat outfit with a surprising amount of artistic and social integrity - at least looking in from the outside. I guess that comes from being big enough to be able to shuffle their workload and workforce and keep things relatively stable.

What I'm saying is, if you buy something, you better make certain you get the whole thing and not just some hollow shell with all the cream filling missing. If you buy the cookie shells off the cream filling of an Oreo, you are doing it wrong. It's the cream filling you want. The cookies are optional. You don't pay somebody 200 millions to go and retire on an island, whilst you are stuck with their business and no idea on how to run it. You pay them 200 millions to run your new shop.

Yeh, I'm sure the Stamper brothers were a key force in the company, but considering there were over 100 other staff there, and that they worked quite separately from each other, it seems absurd to assume that the loss of the 2 company heads would suddenly leave all this talent dead in the water.  
 
To extend your analogy, it seems that as well as only acquiring the biscuit around the creamy center, Microsoft put these biscuits in a 100 foot cookie tin, among the short-breads and the  custard creams, and hoped they could hold their own. 
 
They didn't have a chance against those custard creams...
#20 Posted by Icicle7x3 (1180 posts) -
#21 Posted by SlashDance (1814 posts) -

@eugenesaxe said:

@SlashDance: Yeah, using phrases like "That is all", besides being pointless, really makes you look stupid, esp. when you're wrong.

Hope that helps :)

Oh that's interesting... I shouldn't state my opinion as fact is what you're saying ?

I don't know dude, telling me I'm wrong for liking Nuts and Bolts and VP better than Goldeneye sounds pretty definitive to me.

#22 Posted by sickVisionz (1268 posts) -
Microsoft Office
Once the deal had been signed the question for Microsoft was how to manage the culture shift for staff. "By this point we had acquired quite a few studios and had tried many different strategies," explains Fries. "What seemed to work best was to preserve the corporate culture of each studio as much as possible so we tried not to be too heavy-handed. We thought the employees would want to think of themselves as working for Rare, not Microsoft, but apparently some people who worked there were disappointed we didn't come in and make more changes. At least that's the impression I had at the time."
For Cook, as for Tossell, the changes in the studio culture were slow and almost imperceptible at first, and many had a positive effect on the staff. "One of the biggest changes was the freedom to talk about projects that you weren't working on," he says. "We were allowed to use the internet during working hours and we were allowed to listen to music while working, so a lot of the early changes were positive to morale."
However, in time it became clear that everyone had underestimated how much of the studio's success was down to Nintendo's gentle steering. "It seemed like Microsoft was really a novice in the games industry and for some time they left us to try and see how things worked," Cook explains. "They wanted hit games for their console and since they weren't sure how to go about it they trusted Rare to do what was necessary. The problem here was that Rare was a very long way from the very corporate structure of Microsoft and when Rare had made games it wasn't in isolation from Nintendo but as a creative partnership.

So Microsoft gives Rare total freedom and control and in return Rare made a series of commercial and/or critical failures. Sounds like Rare killed Rare. They had their fates in their own hands and they started cranking out games people didn't want to buy. When their failure to work on their own without having a corporate overlord leering over them and telling them exactly what to do became obvious and undeniable (everyone can't be a leader and some people are born to be followers), Microsoft put them to work on Avatars and Kinect games, where they've likely had some of their biggest success stories post Banjo Tooie.

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