What's going on over at Rare these days? If a forum post is to be believed, developers are packing their bags and leaving the troubled developer. Many are apparently choosing unemployment over continuing to work for the Microsoft studio.
The story popped up on 4Chan last month (we know, we know, a haven for the truth), announcing that "In an effort to cut costs, Rare has cut their last permament members of Art staff". It goes on to explain that a significant chunk of the developer's creative team had already left, and that all remaining artists at the studio are temps.
Now, it's been a little while after that post, and it's starting to look like poster theknowledge did actually know what they were talking about.
In an effort to cut costs, Rare has cut their last permanent members of Art staff. All artists working there are temps (in other words: cheap).
A number of their creative team left much earlier than today. They didn't have any new jobs lined up, they just got so sick of working under the current management that they took unemployment over continued stay at Rare.
Also, the current studio head (a man from Microsoft who replaced a long-time Rare man late last year) has said that Rare's fate is directly, totally and unequivocally tied to the success of Kinect Sports 2.
And going by the success of Kinect Sports 1, and the unwanted, unmarketable, bandwagon-jumping bit of crap that is the Kinect in general, it's pretty clear at this point that Rare is f*cked.
How far into 2011 will it be before the studio's closure is announced?
Place your bets.
People are starting to leave the Kinect Sports developer - including former Art Coordinator Steven Crow, who's now at Lightning Fish Games, and Andrew James and Ryan Firchau, who have both embarked on a full time freelance career after 5 and 10 years respectively at Rare. Dean Smith, formerly environment and object artist on Kinect Sports, and before that, lead artist on Rare's DS range, is now merely a "contract artist".
Rare has been around in various guises since 1982, and brought us Banjo-Kazooie, Donkey Kong Country, the Viva Pinata series and the classic GoldenEye 007. Last year, the studio announced that their main focus would be developing games for the Kinect platform, starting with Kinect Sports and avatar development.
We've asked a few people a few questions, and are hoping to have some real answers soon - but, for now, it looks like Rare might be not long for this world.
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Jimmy the Geek