Rare, the development house that developed such games as
Donkey Kong Country, Killer Instinct, Goldeneye,
Perfect Dark, and their first GameCube title Star
Fox Adventures, has been rumored to be departing from
their Nintendo exclusivity for some time. Rare had been a
second party developer for Nintendo for some time, and considering
that Nintendo owned 49% of Rare's stock, that's not much of
a surprise. Persistent rumors about Rare's departure cropped
up earlier this year, especially after an infamous Christmas
Card that showed a GameCube, Playstation 2 and Xbox wrapped
as gifts under a tree. Since then, the rumor mill has been
At times, Rare was rumored to be going third party and people
were stating that Rare had development boxes for both the
PS2 and Xbox. Then, there were the rumors that Microsoft was
buying Rare and then Activision was going to buy Rare. Nobody
could confirm anything and if you emailed either Nintendo
or Rare, neither would state anything outside of a polite
"we aren't telling you anything" response. In fact, Rare never
directly denied any of the rumors.
As reported at IGN,
it seemed that the rumors might have been actually true. Nintendo,
after reviewing the lack of financial return from Rare in
the past two years, had decided not to buy out the rest of
the company's shares and make them first party, but instead
wanted to sell their own shares. Both Activision and Microsoft
were interested, but Microsoft apparently made the best offer
at an undisclosed price somewhere between £250 million and
£350 million (source: Gamesindustry.biz).
This, of course, was undisclosed at the time of the article
as it seemed the three companies were haggling over what intellectual
property was going to go with Rare.
9/20/02 - Gamespot reported
that Nintendo was to sell off Rare, but that they would keep
the rights to Donky Kong, Diddy Kong and Star
Fox. They also cited CNN
Money that the sale of Rare would include the rights to
Perfect Dark, Conker, and Banjo-Kazooie.
9/23/02 - Another report
is posted, almost confirming that Microsoft has made the purchase,
except that Microsoft refused to confirm as it was believed
they would make the announcement at their X02 event in Seville,
Spain on the 24th.
9/24/02 - Microsoft puts all rumors to an end by officially
announcing that they have bought Rare. The price: $375
million. What they get: Along with Rare comes their new title
Kameo, which was at point in development for the GameCube,
and promises of new titles in the Banjo-Kazooie and
Perfect Dark series. It was stated that Rare planned
to develop 5 titles in the next two years, so they seem to
be warming up to their new home.
Some quotes from the recent announcement:
Chris Stamper, chairman of Rare: "Our mission at Rare
has always been to make the industry's best games for the
widest possible audience. Teaming with Microsoft gives us
the best opportunity to accomplish this goal."
Ed Fries, vice president of Xbox Game Content: "The last
time I was this excited was the first time I picked up a controller
and played a game from Rare."
Tim Stamper, Rare co-founder: "We've always insisted on
pushing the envelope when it comes to creativity, and now
we get the chance to create for Xbox."
Why would Nintendo drop a company that made so many exclusive
games for them and has such a dedicated fanbase? As stated
before, Rare hasn't been a large part of Nintendo's earnings
as of late. Also, Nintendo has been focusing more on deals
with third party developers, like Sega and Namco, to increase
their game selection for their current consoles. Of course,
there might be internal conflicts between the two companies,
but neither Rare nor Nintendo would state as much.
What does this mean for Nintendo? Except for not having Rare
around to develop games for them, not a lot. Some of the games
Rare developed for Nintendo are legally property of Nintendo,
meaning that you won't see any Donkey Kong or Star Fox on
the Xbox. But, other titles that were popular during the N64
days will not see sequels on the GameCube, but on the Xbox.
What does this mean for Microsoft? Having Rare on their roster
gives Microsoft a developer with both history and fanbase,
which can increase sales of the Xbox for those who want to
play Rare games no matter where they are. And since Rare is
bringing some favorite videogame names with them, there's
sure to be a few people to bite the bullet and pick up and
The backlash had already begun from disgruntled Rare/Nintendo
fans, as witnessed by the reaction of this Perfect Dark Zero
those with calmer heads will have to find their Rare fix on
the Xbox. After such a long, rumor-filled road, it's finally
nice to have everything resolved.