Rare has reportedly been hit with a round of layoffs following the launch of their Xbox One exclusive title Kinect Sports Rivals. A number around sixteen employees have been let go as Microsoft has, quote, "made a decision to change our development process and methodology at Rare to best support our future projects." A shift in "methodology" to Microsoft, a cold farewell to several senior employees of the once proud Rare brand.
At the top of the list of those laid off is unfortunately Chris Sutherland, a 20-year Rare veteran and the lead programmer of Battletoads, the Banjo Kazooie titles and the Donkey Kong Country series. Sutherland is reportedly joined by 15-year veteran Gavin Price, both prominent members of the team which worked on Kinect Sports Rivals. While the the other team members who have lost their jobs are no less important, the dismissal of such historied employees portrays just how much the once beloved studio has changed.
A Microsoft representative provided the following prepared statement with regards to layoffs in response to CVG's inquiry:
"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 the overall numbers for Kinect Sports Rivals are not enough to determine whether the game was a success or failure, these layoffs are a rather clear indication towards the latter. What's next for the studio, now more than a dozen employees the lesser, is yet to be determined.
We at Neoseeker wish all of the employees affected by the Rare layoffs a quick turnaround. Hopefully they are each back on a team and working on a project they love as soon as possible.