NEWS - Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Rare Co-Founders Split

Founders Chris and Tim Stamper officially left Rare at the end of December after 20 years, according to Microsoft. Stepping up to lead the company will be studio director Mark Betteridge, a 19-year Rare vet. Creative director Gregg Mayles, who was the “creative force” behind titles including Donkey Kong Country, Viva Pinata and the next iteration of Banjo Kazooie, will be in charge of overseeing all titles in development and the creation of new IP at Rare. Microsoft added that the Stampers haven’t disclosed any details regarding their immediate plans and their departure “will not impact the development teams at Rare.” Microsoft acquired Rare in 2002 for $375 million in an effort to solidify the exclusive software offerings for its Xbox gaming business. Under Microsoft’s ownership, Rare released games including Grabbed by the Ghoulies and Conker: Live & Reloaded for the original Xbox and Kameo and Perfect Dark Zero for Xbox 360. Prior to the Microsoft acquisition, the studio developed classic titles including Battletoads and R.C. Pro-Am for NES and GoldenEye 007 for N64, among many other games. The recent kid-friendly Viva Pinata for Xbox 360 launched in November to positive reviews and is described by Microsoft as “the cornerstone” of its strategy to broaden the Xbox audience. However, many onlookers insist that recent titles fail to live up to Rare’s own stellar track record. Microsoft said that the departure of the pair has nothing to do with any perceived disappointment in Rare’s developer performance. Rare began in the early 1980s as Ultimate – Play the Game. According to Microsoft, Rare was officially founded in 1985 as a partnership between the Stampers and arcade pioneer Joel Hochberg.

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