A few ex-Rare staffers have given their thoughts on the nature of Rare's transition from creative partnership with Nintendo to Microsoft subsidiary. Although most suggest that the "old days" were better in a number of ways, it's interesting to note that one or two reflect on the necessity of the deal, suggesting that Rare would not be here today had Microsoft not stepped in and arguing that the company's fate holds a mirror up to the changing nature of the games industry as a whole.
"I think what has happened to Rare really just reflects what has happened in the industry at large: larger teams, larger budgets and reduced risk," said Phil Tossell, director of gameplay and HCI at Rare until September 2010.
"And in that sense I think the Rare of today is in a better position to deal with the demands of the modern game industry. It was undoubtedly a challenging process for everyone at Rare and I'm sure at Microsoft as well, but ultimately I think it was necessary for the continued survival of Rare. The games industry is driven by certain cycles, and with escalating team sizes and production costs, I don't think the Rare of old could have continued as it was."
Justin Cook, who was principal designer until November of last year, agreed, saying that comparisons between "old" and "new" Rare were somewhat reductive, asserting that Rare has done what many studios have failed to do: survived.
"You can't compare 'old' and 'new' Rare because the comparison is no more valid than comparing steam engines to bullet trains," said Cook. "What is incredible is that Rare still exists. It is still making high-quality games that millions of people play. There have been bigger and more successful studios but there aren't many that are still in business and going strong. Rare is a survivor and as we approach the next massive upheaval in the games industry it would be foolish to write off a studio as talented and adaptable as Rare."
You can find the full feature, which looks at Rare's history from the 1990s onwards, over at Eurogamer. It makes for exceptional reading.