Rare was a legendary developer back in the golden age of gaming. When the beloved company was perfectly partnered with Nintendo, the partnership went as well together as peanut butter and jelly and through 1994-2001 everything was fine and dandy until game development cost began to gradually increase and Nintendo decided not to provide the company with more capital nor did they buy up the remaining stake that was leftover, forcing the company to search for a potential buyer to stay in the game. In the end we all know that Microsoft purchased the company for $375 million and from that day on Rare was a first-party developer for Microsoft.
Even though the gaming world-renowned name remains with the company, Rare as we knew it is dead and everything we ever knew and loved about them was laid to rest years ago. I can already hear you now: why is this a big deal? Why does Microsoft purchasing a company that was actively seeking a buyer mean that the old Rare as we knew it is gone? They’re still around making games for the Xbox One, with Sea of Thieves on the way, but a huge chunk of their creative development team was lost during the transition from Nintendo to Microsoft and it shows. After founders Tim and Chris Stamper quit in 2007, they were replaced by Gregg Mayles, the current Creative Director for Rare.
The reason this change in creative directors is such a big deal is because the company we once fell in love with as a whole no longer existed at this point in time. Everyone who had worked on the classic smash hits such as Banjo-Kazooie, Jet Force Gemini, Donkey Kong Country and many, many others throughout their seven years with Nintendo had left the company and were replaced by a whole new group. Rare, as it stands today, has no members of the original creative team behind their ingenious games left on their roster. Much like when Star Wars was bought by Disney, a whole new creative team is now behind those films; George Lucas and his new ideas have been tossed out never to be heard from again. Meaning that Rare as we knew it is truly dead.
Now the current occupation of creative team members in the company rely on one thing and one thing alone to sell their games: nostalgia. The current Rare as we know it relies heavily on gamer’s nostalgia of IPs of gaming’s past. It’s no coincidence that Rare Replay (an amazing collection of old Rare Games) was released during the same time Microsoft was announcing that Rare was going to be making more “Traditional” games again. Don’t be confused; even though Rare Replay was released on Xbox and marketed as Rare titles, these are in no way a reflection on the current company. The majority of the games seen in Rare Replay were done by employees that no longer exist at the company.
The “new” Rare, as well call them, just made a compilation of “Old” Rare’s successful games. The creation of “old” Rare titles in a single compilation was an intentional move created by Microsoft’s very talented marketing team in order to make gamers remember how awesome Rare used to be back in the day and then, Oh wow! A new game by Rare is coming out.
The reveal of Rare Replay and the teaser for Sea of Thieves was a marketing poly to get gamers excited to play Rare games again, even though the game will not be anywhere near the same quality we have come to expect from “old” Rare titles during their run with Nintendo. This isn’t to say the game has no chance, but the point is that “old” Rare is officially dead and this new incarnation is building up hype off of titles they had no affiliation with.