Above the Black Night | What happened to Rare Studios?


When we talk about Rare Studios today, we think of titles like Sea of ​​Thieves; But does this’s the end of the company?

When it comes to gaming companies, we all think of companies like Rockstar and Naughty Dog. Throughout history, there have always been studios that set high standards in the gaming industry and have remained in the minds of gamers. When today the name of the studio Rare We remember titles like Sea of ​​Thieves; But does this’s the end of the company? Join GGROLER to review the story of one of the oldest studios in the game industry…

Formerly known as Ultimate Play the Game, Rare Studios was founded by Tim Stamper and Chris Stamper. Following the release of several high-quality commercial products, including Jetpac, Atic Atac, Saber Wulf and Knight Lore, the company became one of the largest gaming companies in the UK. Rare Studio was formally established in 1985. The company initially chose the Zedix Spectrum platform, the eight-bit computer of the time, as its target platform for building the game.

The studio’s first product was Jetpac; An arcade game that has been successful in attracting various players around the world. The game had an interplanetary and sci-fi theme that was pursued in space. Interestingly, one of the first studios to suffer from the crunch phenomenon in game development was Ultimate or Rare. The company’s employees are said to spend about 18 hours a day working for the company. However, it is said that the studio staff themselves did not have a complaint about this issue, which seems unlikely!

It was even said in various interviews that Ultimate executives gave their employees only two days off a year. Obviously a lot of work can bring high quality. Ultimate Studio was one of the founders of 3D titles in the gaming industry, and did so with Knight Lore. The turning point in the company’s history was the introduction of Nintendo’s gaming platform called Famicom. Seeing the console’s potential and capabilities, they decided to move on and no longer play games for their eight-bit platform.

It is interesting to know that the first Rare outputs on the Nintendo Famicom platform were done through reverse engineering and illegal use of the console code. Finally, Rare Studio employees decided to show their first software release to Nintendo. Since they were the first Western developers to run the game on Famicom, they were able to attract the attention of Nintendo executives. The result was the production of high-end exclusive games for Nintendo, and from that day on, Rare entered a new era in its history.

From that day on, the company continued to operate as Nintendo’s representative in the United Kingdom; There was a big problem ahead. No one in the UK was interested in the Famicom platform and the company’s games were not sponsored. From the first collaborations of Rare and Nintendo, we can mention the making of big and small games such as A Nightmare on Elm Street and Hollywood Squares. Rare activities for Nintendo continued until the popular NES console. In addition, the collaboration between Rare and Nintendo continued for years, and even spread to the hugely popular GameCube console.

As expected, with the budget provided by Nintendo, many high-quality and shocking games were made. The workload and holiday constraints paid off, and the studio developed nearly 60 games for Nintendo and SEGA in just five years; While the early release of the SNES console did not help the company. The first use of cinematic trailers and CGI was also made by Rare and was flagship in this regard. One of the highlights of the collaboration between Nintendo and Rear was that Rear was playing games for Nintendo all this time as a third-party studio.

Finally, in 1994, Nintendo bought about 25 percent of Rear, and that number has risen to 49 percent over the years. The result of a long-term partnership with a Japanese company was the creation of one of the most enduring games in history, Donkey Kong Country. The game was first released in 1994 and was later released for various consoles such as SNES and Game Boy Color. This game was a great Side-Scrolling title. Entertainment was literally displayed in this game and brought a pleasant and memorable experience for gamers.

Donkey Kong Country was a reboot of the Donkey Kong franchise and was able to revolutionize these games. The game received an average score of 89 on the Game Ranking website and became one of Nintendo’s System Seller games with insane sales of 9 million copies. The ambitions of the creators of Rear were not complete and they wanted to make a game to compete with the Mortal Kombat series. The output of this ambition was Killer Instinct, which was made available to the public in 1994. This game also became one of Nintendo’s successful ips and received good scores from critics.

Undoubtedly, Rear was one of the best Nintendo makers of those years; As a result, the Oriental company had complete confidence in Rear Studios. After lengthy negotiations, Nintendo was able to obtain a license to make a game adaptation of the James Bond films. The outcome of this deal was the creation of one of the most enduring and revolutionary games in the history of the gaming industry, GoldenEye: 007. Rear was trying to do something that no one had done before. The game was made for the Nintendo 64 console. GoldenEye: 007 became one of the most revolutionary first-person shooter titles in history.

The game earned an incredible meta of 96 and became one of the most lucrative games in the world with sales of $ 250 million. This game was not Rear’s last masterpiece for Nintendo, and over the years, other good games like Diddy Kong Racing and Banjoo-Kazooie were made for Nintendo. Gradually, as the peak reached, the financial problems behind the scenes became apparent. Rear now had more than 100 employees. Not only did this high number impose restrictions on pay, but Crunch was not to the liking of all employees.

Rare Studio’s first dark era began in 1998; When the director of GoldenEye left the studio, dozens of people left the company. Following these splits, the company’s 1999 games failed to replicate the quality of Rear’s previous titles, and the company’s decline was evident. The process of building another blockbuster game had begun before the key makers of the company parted ways with Rear. That game was called Perfect Dark. Perfect Dark was supposed to be a title similar to GoldenEye but with unique features.

This game, with all its manufacturing problems, was finally released in 2000. At a time when the PlayStation and Sony were gaining ground in the gaming industry, Perfect Dark for the Nintendo 64 was Nintendo’s re-emergence in the gaming industry. As we said, Rear was struggling with a lot of problems and stock was falling. Nintendo, on the other hand, never bought all of the company’s stock, so another part of it was purchased. When Microsoft sought to build its first gaming console in 2002, the superpower acquired a large stake in Rare Studios in a major move.

Now one of Europe’s largest gaming companies has been added to Microsoft’s First-Party subsidiaries. Microsoft made a strange decision following this purchase. Because the Xbox was not intended to provide a handy, portable experience, Microsoft allowed Rear to build the game for Gameboy. This issue and the fact that Rear has two platforms, caused great damage to the quality of the company’s titles. However, in 2005, the license was revoked and the company’s main focus was on the Xbox 360 platform.

The change of platform, incorrect policies and the loss of a large number of former Rear employees prevented the company from repeating its former performance. One of Rear’s first exclusive games for the Xbox was Kameo: Elements of Power. Although this game was not comparable to Rear’s previous creations, but it was able to perform successfully. The game was originally supposed to be Nintendo’s exclusive flagship, but with the sale of the company, the sheet came back completely.

The next version of Perfect Dark, called Perfect Dark Zero, was released this time exclusively for the Xbox 360. This game, despite its desirable quality, could not appear in the same size as the previous version. This work managed to get Meta 81, and compared to the previous version that got Meta 96, it was definitely a step backwards. The company’s next product was the Viva Piñata. It is interesting to know that this game was one of the first experiences of Rear in the port of a product for Microsoft Windows operating system. In January 2007, Rier’s second Black Era began, and Chris and Tim Stamper co-founded Rare Studios.

From 2007 to 2008, Microsoft again released Rare to build games for the Nintendo DS. Any game made by this company, regardless of technical performance, did not experience good sales, and this was a wake-up call for this studio, a subsidiary of Microsoft. Following these problems, Microsoft made a decision that, instead of improving, made Rear’s condition worse than before; The purpose is to make a Kinect game!

Due to the widespread publicity for Kinect, the games on this device also performed well commercially. The first Rare game for this hardware was Kinect Sports, which sold three million copies. Following the wrong policies that Microsoft forced on the Xbox One and Kinect consoles, Rear Studios’ situation worsened with the poor performance of Kinect Sports Rivals. The studio, which once produced 60 games every five years, was in a situation where the number of successful titles over a decade could not reach the fingers of one hand.

Attracting playwrights such as Craig Duncan and Simon Woodruff did nothing to improve the situation; Because the management problem was raging in this studio. Finally, Sea of ​​Thieves game was introduced with a lot of promise and promise and hype. The creators of Rear called this game the best work in the history of this studio. The game was released in 2018 after a long delay, and unfortunately experienced a weak launch. The game was dubbed one of Rare’s worst creations and was a complete disappointment to Xbox fans.

Fortunately, Rear was never disappointed in achieving the goal and idea in his mind. Like a never-before-released title, Rear continued to support and release additional content to Sea of ​​Thieves. Over the course of two years, Sea of ​​Thieves improved so much that it attracted millions of players around the world. When you realize that Sea of ​​Thieves, with over 10 million players in the eighth generation, was Microsoft’s most successful player in terms of number of players, you definitely admire Rare. After Phil Spencer took over, Microsoft changed its policy toward Rear Studios and began recruiting.

As we speak, there are more than 200 game developers working for this company. At the XO19 event, the company’s new product called Everwild was unveiled. Although the theme of Everwild seemed attractive and eye-catching, the behind-the-scenes of the game did not provide us with good news. According to information obtained by the monster_wer user through the LinkedIn profile of some members of the Everwild development team, the game has apparently been under development for more than 5 years. According to rumors, Everwild has lost several directors over time.

In addition, the game was rebooted several times before release and re-developed. Gregg Mayles, a senior game designer, is currently leading the project, and the development team is optimistic about 2024 for release. Clearly, Microsoft is not giving up on Rear, and the studio is not known as a weak gaming company. Here’s the problem; How did the studio, which was Britain’s best gaming company years ago, suffer such a decline? Maybe we should ask the answer to this question from Don Metric and former Microsoft executives…

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