Kinect-focused developer Rare lays off employees

Rare, the in-house developers focused on Microsoft's Kinect sensor, has suffered layoffs as a result of poor sales of its latest game, "Kinect Sports Rival." The news comes a week after Microsoft announced that it will start selling the Xbox One without a Kinect sensor.

After Microsoft's announcement last week, Rare said it was “in the process of evaluating what they want to do next,” but now it seems the studio is in more trouble than what's been revealed publicly.

There's no official number, but Eurogamer estimates that 16 people were let go following the disappointing sales of "Kinect Sports Rivals." The game was originally destined as a launch title for the Xbox One but was delayed until April of this year, when it finally launched, with disappointing results. Rare's layoffs happened before Microsoft's announcement related to the unbundling of Kinect, but it proves that Kinect titles have had little traction and that things aren't going well for the devs.

You can look at this both ways either celebrating that Kinect is no longer pushed down users' throats by Microsoft and that's a great thing; or that Microsoft is making a serious mistake and dooming the Kinect, which is a great piece of technology, to being just a gimmick. Either way, one thing's clear: both Kinect's future and the future of the developers that have focused on it is very uncertain. 

Source: Eurogamer | Image via Microsoft

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astropheed said,
Sadly Rare is just a shell of its former self. I have no sympathy for them anymore.

That's what happens when MS buys a company and lets it operate as a discreet entity. They get fat and lazy.

Look at Skype.

People put to much connection into unrelated news because they can make a connection in their minds.

Rare recently finished a game, developers like this always let team members go after games are launched and then hire again as needed. This has nothing to do with rare sizing down or because they're selling without kinect.. It's business as normal.

Just search neowin for rare+lay off. They've done this several times. And look they're still around cause they re-hire when needed. It's a ###### way to run a business for the employees, but it's how all game devs are run with a few exceptions, and even they have sub companies that are run like this.

I interviewed for a job at Rare last year... nice studios, but they really need to make another great game, all this Kinect Sports stuff is nonsense that shouldn't be dumped on a studio with their history :/

It's definitely not the end for Kinect. Microsoft just needs to give it a lower price point. In the end, unfortunately it always boils down to cost.

It's only the beginning of Kinect getting bigger. Kinect for Windows just got cleared by FDA for treating stroke patients (I've actually already seen it been used in 2 hospitals already) and many developers are interested in coding for it the only fear is because they back tracked on bundling it, they now won't know how many consumers actually have one. They really should have just lowered the price and taken the hit at least for the beginning.
http://www.wpcentral.com/kinec...d-fda-treat-stroke-patients

I believe this is a sign of two miscalculations by Microsoft. Either they failed to realize that Kinect is not going to succeed in the gaming world or they simply implemented it wrong.

I thought the game was okay, but I must say that I expected more. Rock climbing and bowling I fun however rest of the games are so so. I expected so much more out of Soccer and Tennis.

16 people isn't much without knowing the total that Rare has, how many of them were doing minor work etc?

I mean hell Irrational fired 90% or more of it's staff for example, and is going to go on with a small group etc.

Let the speculation run wild. I'm sure this story will get more traction since the Kinect-less XB1 is releasing soon. It can't be that they are laying people off, because company lay people off sometimes. nah, "B" it's got to be because of Kinect right?

I don't really get your lingo, so I'm not sure if the following is agreeing with or is against you. Companies don't just lay people off for no reason, potentially due to poor sales in their sole products, being Kinect only, they have to lay people off to reduce overheads. As Rare is only dealing with Kinect only games at the moment, then yes, it's more than likely got to be because of Kinect.

Munroe said,
I don't really get your lingo, so I'm not sure if the following is agreeing with or is against you. Companies don't just lay people off for no reason, potentially due to poor sales in their sole products, being Kinect only, they have to lay people off to reduce overheads. As Rare is only dealing with Kinect only games at the moment, then yes, it's more than likely got to be because of Kinect.

Okay, let me clear it up for you. Even if they are Kinect only, Kinect is not the reason they had to lay people off. They had to lay people off due to poor sales, less to do with Kinect and more to do with a suck game or just as they said poor sales. Being that Kinect is (at least until now) on every xbox, the lack of people having Kinect is not the problem. Additionally, being that people do have Kinect, I'm sure that if you make and excellent high quality Kinect game, people would buy it.

So instead of blaming Kinect as your comment did, I disagree, it's not because of Kinect, if because of poor sales and the lack of being able to make a game that people want.

And then on top of that it's only 16 people? Really, that's Kinect's fault, come on now.

Since Kinect is not required anymore then, most likely, developers will put all their effort into kinect-less games rather in games that use kinect.

Brony said,
Since Kinect is not required anymore then, most likely, developers will put all their effort into kinect-less games rather in games that use kinect.

That's my biggest fear

Rivals is a mediocre game at best and reviewers agree with me. I was very disappointed by it. Can you say, "Lipstick on a pig". Come on, all their Xbox 360 Kinect based games were better. It is not that the Kinect is the issue, if you build a good game they will come. But, the game has to be fun and not just certain aspects of it. Several of the sports were fun to try but, did not hold their own continuously. How can you screw up bowling? They should have charged $29 for the game.

+1 on Kinect Rivals being just a bad game. Additionally, the demo that they released when XB1 released was so bad, in fact, TERRIBLE, that I uninstalled it in disgust and never even thought to get it when it releases.

What I really want is updated Kinect Sports series, with better tracking and all that. I'd buy that in a heartbeat. There is simply not a good Kinect family title out there for XB1 as of yet, IMO.

This is a shame, however, Rare are sitting on a gold mine of IP's. A sequel or even a remake would probably sell well. They need to stop focusing on Kinect only products and focus on more mainstream products.

NeoTrunks said,
Agreed. Their last great run was during the N64 days, sadly.

I don't think everyone would agree, maybe these games didn't set sales records but Kameo and Viva Pinata were solid games.

Ha. I enjoyed PDZ, as well as Kameo and Viva Pinata. But those 3 games out of so many that generation didn't make it a good one. They were consistently good in the N64 days, then dropped the ball during the GCN days :(.

Munroe said,
Rare are sitting on a gold mine of IP's. .....

I'm fairly certain Nintendo owns the IPs you're thinking of, and that is why they have not surfaced as sequels on Microsoft consoles.

Kinect Sports Rivals is a crappy game so I never expected it to sell well. In my opinion people had enough of motion controlled games after the Wii so now it is kind of boring as it isn't really all that different to what Nintendo was doing 5 years ago.

They really should re-release Kinect Sports 1 & 2, as well as Adventures on the Xbox One. I really enjoy playing those with family and friends at parties and other gatherings.

Surely it wouldn't have been THAT hard to port them over to Xbox One for launch so there was at least something available for the Kinect 2 at launch?

Edited by Ryster, May 19 2014, 4:47pm :