Activision Nearly Freed Rare from Console Exclusivity

Activision Nearly Freed Rare from Console Exclusivity

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Rare has been tied to a single company's consoles for more than a decade, but almost saw freedom in 2002.

Rare, the studio behind the original GoldenEye 007 and the upcoming Kinect Sports, went from working exclusively with one first-party to another when Microsoft purchased Nintendo's stake in the company back in 2002. Previous vice president of game publishing at Microsoft Ed Fries recently revealed the details behind this deal, including how Rare was almost bought by Activision.

Microsoft paid a pretty penny when it bought Rare, to the tune of $375 million. This number may have shot so high due to competition from Activision and strategy by Nintendo. Though some have said that Nintendo dumped Rare and sold the studio to Microsoft, Nintendo actually did express its own interest in purchasing Rare.

Fries says that Nintendo owned nearly half of Rare, and had the option to purchase the other half. Nintendo kept letting the deadline for the purchase expire, which allowed other bidders to come in. the problem was, if another company put in a low bid Nintendo would be able to match it with priority. Microsoft and Activision put in big bids to ensure that Nintendo wouldn't match them. This, in addition to competition from Activision, were the primary factors that led to the giant bid of $375 million.

Despite the giant dollar signs Microsoft flashed in front of Rare, Activision's offer was more intriguing. Fries says that Activision won the bidding war for Rare at first because "[Rare] wanted to be third-party, independent of all platforms." However, something mysterious happened and the deal with Activision fell through.

"Something happened between them and Activision," Fries said in an interview with Develop. "I don't know what it was, but relatively far along in the deal things got cold, and we made a counter offer ... The prices were getting so high, by this point, that it didn't look like Nintendo was willing to participate."

Activision backed out, and Microsoft won the day, if you consider spending $375 million for Rare a win. Rare may have faltered in recent years with disappointing titles like Perfect Dark Zero, but is set to win back some of the prominence it gained in the N64 era when Kinect launches if Kinect Sports becomes a success. I wonder how differently things would have gone for Rare, whose founders left in 2007, if it was now under the umbrella of Activision instead of Microsoft.

Source: Develop

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I'd still put my money on Rare doing better away from Microsoft, although looking today, not in the hands of Activision.

I could see it now. Mediocre games, but a new edition of said mediocre game once a year.

Alas, my dear Banjo Kazooie, Donkey Kong, Conker...where are you now?

"Rare may have faltered in recent years with disappointing titles like Perfect Dark Zero, but is set to win back some of the prominence it gained in the N64 era when Kinect launches if Kinect Sports becomes a success."
Kinect Sports could be the greatest sports minigame compilation ever created and it would still come nowhere close to the greatness of Banjo Kazooie, Tooie, DK64, and Conker's Bad Fur Day.
I just want DK64 on the virtual console.....

i love you rare but i cant see kinect becoming anything special.

Microsoft should just Sell Rare to Nintendo. Then all will be good(Even though it won't be the original RareWare members)

Should have spent the 375 million somewhere else.

Rare was use to be one of the best game developers during the SNES era and they happen to fall way back when Microsoft bought them.

I still miss the Banjo Kazooie and Conker series.

Rare made the serious mistake of joining up with Microsoft.

Those guys ain't goin' nowhere now. XD

Now all Activision could do is put Rare out of it's misery.

Tom Goldman:
but is set to win back some of the prominence it gained in the N64 era when Kinect launches if Kinect Sports becomes a success.

Hehe. 'Some' should be underlined twice in that sentence.

I miss the days when Rare worked hand in hand with Nintendo to make some of the greatest titles around. Those were the AAA days, then. Some of my favorite older titles have either the Rare or Rareware brand stamping. Titles like Battletoads, most of the Donkey Kongs, Killer Instinct, Goldeneye 007, Banjo-Kazooie/Tooie, Diddy Kong Racing, Perfect Dark, and Conker. Ahhh...I miss you Rare. And I know you'll do your best with Kinect, but that's far from the best you've done.

*looks at Infinity Ward*

well if Rare had been successful with Activision...

I wouldn't have paid $3.75 for Rare, much less $375 million. Most of the N64 games were pretty bad, a few were mediocre, and maybe one or two were in between mediocre and awesome.

So yeah, I don't blame Microsoft for Rare not making "good" games anymore, I blame Rare for never really making them that often in the first place. Rare killed Rare, not Microsoft.

Pretty slick, Nintendo.

Wonderful. $375 million more dollars poured into the sinkhole that is Kinect. Rare probably isn't even worth a third of that.

mjc0961:
I wouldn't have paid $3.75 for Rare, much less $375 million. Most of the N64 games were pretty bad, a few were mediocre, and maybe one or two were in between mediocre and awesome.

So yeah, I don't blame Microsoft for Rare not making "good" games anymore, I blame Rare for never really making them that often in the first place. Rare killed Rare, not Microsoft.

wrong

Microsoft should sell Rare back to Nintendo

Well, it probably would have put out worse games, only to then have half it's studio axed when Activision decided that they weren't focusing enough on WoW/plastic musical instruments.

Anyways, I'm not gonna say that Microsoft killed Rare here, since I don't know if Rare really is as good as nostalgia makes them. Who knows if Rare killed themselves, if Nintendo was what was keeping them alive, or if it really was Microsoft, but well, the results are obvious.

I knew Activision were big, but I didn't realize just how encompassing their various arms were.

Wow. 375M for this studio with titles I cannot bear mentioning? Right, Kinect saves the day.

$375 Million for the honor horror of Perfect Dark Zero, Nuts and Bolts, Xbox 360 Avatars, and now a Wii-Sports, motion control-whoring clone. It's almost criminal considering the phenomenal titles Rare was behind with the N64. I'm curious, after Microsoft bought Rare, did they call a meeting and say "Remember all of those good games you used to make exclusive for the N64? Well now you're going to be dumping all over some of your past successes, make a game controlled by flailing, and create virtual T-shirts."

As bad as Activision is, at least Rare could have been part of something better than 360 Miis and Kinect Kopy-kats.

Tom Goldman:
Rare may have faltered in recent years with disappointing titles like Perfect Dark Zero, but is set to win back some of the prominence it gained in the N64 era when Kinect launches if Kinect Sports becomes a success.

I guess they have nothing to lose by making a Wii Sports rip-off. Afterall, after their own fansite closed down due to a dispute with them, I can't imagine it can get any worse for Rare.

But then again, it's possible that Murphy's/Sod's Law is in effect in regards to anything Kinect-related.

sigh...

It's sad to think how close we may have come to a proper Banjo-Threeie.

HigherTomorrow:
I could see it now. Mediocre games, but a new edition of said mediocre game once a year.

Alas, my dear Banjo Kazooie, Donkey Kong, Conker...where are you now?

coming out next year for the 360 while also being kinect freindly.

[/coprateconsolejoke]

wow, just think, back in 2002 Activision was actually nice. But it does suck from a business standpoint, being exclusive to just one console just gives you less cash in the long run.

 

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