Kinect Sports Rivals just landed on store shelves a few weeks ago. It’s the latest game to come from Rare, a studio that is known in the gaming community for being one of the most prolific during the 90s. Unfortunately, this isn’t the Rare that we remember from the golden age of gaming, and it shows in their latest game.
Kinect Sports Rivals is far from the Kinect liberator that Microsoft wanted it to be. It hasn’t scored particularly well, and consequently has sold less than anticipated. Microsoft has decided to layoff staff at Rare, reducing it from its previous size of 200~ employees. These layoffs include the departure of 20 year Rare veteran Chris Sutherland, a programmer who has worked on several of the studio’s most noteworthy titles.
In a statement to Eurogamer, Microsoft said:
At Xbox, our goal is to constantly create new fun, social and interactive entertainment experiences. As part of Rare’s commitment to this goal, we have made a decision to change our development process and methodology at Rare to best support our future projects, this has led to us reviewing the skills and the makeup of our development teams in our business.
It’s sad to see Rare fall into a state of near irrelevance, but that’s exactly what has happened since its acquisition by Microsoft in 2002. To put it in perspective, in 1997 it released GoldenEye 007 on the N64, and three years later would publish Perfect Dark. In the past five years all it has made are Kinect games, all of which have scored a 75% average or lower. How’s that for a decline?
For anyone still hoping for a great next-gen Conker game, you may want to consider letting go.