Rare, the company behind such classics as Golden Eye 007, Perfect Dark, and Banjo-Kazooie, was purchased by Microsoft in the earlier part of the 2000’s for a staggering $375 million, and then became the driving force behind the popular Kinect Sports title. The story typically goes that Microsoft purchased the company, snatched them away from their focus on it’s widely popular Nintendo games, and made it focus on development for its Kinect. But in an interview with Eurogamer, former Rare designer Gavin Price says its was Rare’s decision to focus its efforts on the Kinect, not Microsofts.
Everybody likes to create this narrative that Microsoft [is] evil, but that’s not the case, …, Phil Spencer taking the mantle of Xbox is one of the best things that could have happened for Rare, because he’s always said to people at Rare, ‘Do what you want to do and we’ll back you’.
It was people in Rare’s management at the time who said: ‘Well, Kinect is a great opportunity for the studio—go all in on it.’ So when executives at Microsoft see that the management team are passionate about doing that, they back them. Microsoft to their credit did that, and perhaps the story online isn’t quite reflective of the truth.
In reference to the development of Kinect Sports, Price stated that it was its former partner Nintendo’s success with the Wii Sports that prompted the widely popular Kinect title:
I remember at some point, the feedback came down from Don Mattrick I believe, and it was: ‘No, just give us Wii Sports with Kinect’, so internally, yeah, Kinect was very much a reaction to the Wii’s success, the fact that they sold millions and millions and always sold out every Christmas.
You can check out the full interview here.