Layoffs hit Rare

Bad news for Rare:

Microsoft-owned developer Rare has suffered layoffs after the release of Xbox One exclusive Kinect Sports Rivals failed to set tills alight, Eurogamer can reveal.

Multiple, separate sources indicated to Eurogamer that the studio, which has focused on the Kinect Sports series in recent years, had recently suffered layoffs.

A Microsoft spokesperson issued Eurogamer the following statement this afternoon:

“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.

“Rare continues to invest in our people and future projects.”

While Microsoft did not confirm how many people had been let go, Eurogamer understands the number is around 16, a figure one source said was made up of some software staff, but mainly design and project managers. Kinect Sports Rivals was a 150 person project.

Microsoft also declined to explain why the changes were made, but the sales performance of the recently-released Kinect Sports Rivals may have played a part. It had been intended as an Xbox One launch title, but was delayed to April. When it did release, it entered the UK all-formats chart in 14th place. One source indicated to Eurogamer Rare suffered a significant loss on the project.

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Sources close to the Microsoft-owned studio indicated that just under 20 employees are set to depart, including veteran programmer Chris Sutherland, who has worked on Rare games for more than 20-years.

During his distinguished career Sutherland acted as lead programmer on Battletoads, as well as all three Donkey Kong Country and Banjo-Kazooie games. He’s also known as the ‘voice’ of the latter’s bear and bird protagonists.

CVG sources indicate that designer Gavin Price will also leave Rare, after a 15-year career which saw him work on Viva Pinata, Grabbed by the Ghoulies, Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts and a number of unannounced, cancelled projects.

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Terrible news to hear from such a studio that once released some of the best games for N64 and more. Here’s hoping the staff hit in the layoffs land on their feet.

– Murr

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