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Ex-Rare Employee on “Severe” Microsoft/Rare Culture Clash

Rare - Kameo

Phil Tossell, a former employee of Rare, the team behind Banjo-Kazooie, Perfect Dark, Goldeneye and Kameo, has revealed that there was a culture clash when the company was bought out by Microsoft. In an interview with NintendoEnthusiast, Tossell talks about how attitudes changed and that is was in no way a quick process.

“I think most of the people who worked at Rare at the time were Nintendo fans and we loved working closely with Nintendo. Rare was also a close knit family and so it was something of a shock to suddenly become part of such a huge organisation as Microsoft. There was a severe culture clash which perhaps didn’t become apparent at first as Microsoft mostly allowed us to continue as we had always done.

“However as time passed and there were staff changes at MGS, together with Tim and Chris (Stamper) leaving, the culture changed and it began to feel more Microsoft and less Rare. While Rare continues to put out high quality games, for me it lost some of the spark that had made the company special.”

Tossell doesn’t believe it’s a permanent change though, and hopes that recent changes at the developer may mean Rare takes the long trip back to its former glory.

“I think at the moment the company is going through something of a rebirth as there are lots of new people and most of the old staff have left, so I’m excited to see what they do next. Whatever Rare does it will always hold a special place for me.”

It’s certainly true, at least in the eyes of their fans, that Rare had their golden years at Nintendo. On any given list of the top N64 games, there’s bound to be more than a few Rare titles. Many blame Microsoft for not fully utilizing their purchase, but others are less optimistic, seeing their once favourite developer as now little more than a shell of its former self. As always though, a developer is only as good as its last game, and Rare will be at the forefront of production on the Xbox One.

Tossell is now part of Nyamyam, an indie developer whose next game, Tengami, is an adventure title with a pop-up book art style.  Tengami will be available on iOS and, later, PC and Mac.


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Article By

Mat Growcott has been a long-time member of the gaming press. He's written two books and a web series, and doesn't have nearly enough time to play the games he writes about.

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