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:
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:
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.
"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.