It's been a busy month over at Microsoft's games division, with the company making several pre-E3 announcements, including the news that a Kinect-less Xbox One will be arriving in stores next month. Following further shake-ups, CVG reported earlier today that the company will be letting go roughly 20 staff members from Rareware Ltd., which it acquired from Nintendo a little over a decade ago. This news came shortly after Phil Spencer stated that the company didn't force Rare to create Kinect games, implying that the company was left to its own creative vision.
Among those being let go is Chris Sutherland, who has been with the company for more than 20 years. During his time with Rare, Sutherland acted as the lead programmer for some of the company's biggest titles, including Battletoads, all three Donkey Kong Country titles and Banjo-Kazooie. He also provided the voice for the latter's two protagonists. Microsoft has also confirmed that Gavin Price, whose 15-year stay with the company had him working on games like Viva Piñata, will also be leaving. In an official statement made to CVG, Microsoft attributed this decision to their changing focus on future projects with the company.
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.
With such an impressive track record under their belts, it's hard to imagine that either Sutherland or Price will have any difficulty in finding work at another company. Other past Rare employees have found success in forming their own independent studios, such as Nyamyam games, makers of the forth-coming Tengami. There's also the possibility that a few of the members being let go may look at companies like Retro Studios, which many consider to be a spiritual successor to Rare's days with Nintendo.
As of right now, we're still not sure what Microsoft's future plans are for Rare. In recent years, Rare has become a major developer for the Kinect peripheral, developing games such as Kinect Sports and its upcoming sequel. With the news that the Kinect will soon become an optional add-on for Xbox One owners, it seems the company may need to change their focus once again. As for its old intellectual properties, both Perfect Dark and Banjo Kazooie saw follow-up titles on Microsoft platforms, neither of which was nearly as well-received as its predecessor.