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Was Rare's poor productivity a deciding factor in Nintendo choosing to let them go?

APZonerunner

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Why did the Stampers want to move on from videogames so bad? Their company was producing some quality titles, they obviously were very skilled at what they did.
No idea. They'd had enough. Bored. They've not done anything else since, really, either, so it seems they just wanted to stop working period. Don't think they liked the ever-increasing fame/press attention, either.

Makes sense, but the Stampers stayed on until 2007. I understand needing to stick around for a little bit post-sale to keep things relatively smooth but half a decade and a full console generation seems a bit much.
Pretty sure it was part of the deal with MS. They stayed only as long as they had to. It's pretty standard for these cases when a sale is negotiated for a period of time from sale when the current brass stay on in order to ensure a smooth transition and not fuck the golden goose. It was probably a five-year deal, with some sort of performance-based wriggle room, as they left six months shy of five years.

Either way, the Stampers wanted to sell their share in the company and move on. They took some time to move on, but they wanted to sell to Nintendo. Nintendo said no, find someone else, and when they began looking Nintendo decided to sell their share too rather than negotiate terms constantly with another company. When it was both sides up for grabs it began to get too expensive for EA/Activision, so MS bought them. That was that.
 

~~Hasan~~

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Apr 20, 2013
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when MS bought rare, the idea behind the purchase was to boost xbox with family/ kids games.

which is why to this day all their games are for kids.

however, most of xbox owners aren't age at 10 to 13 or girls to suck up these games. which is why they are selling much less than how much they used to sell @ nintendo.
 

chertipros

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Apr 15, 2012
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when MS bought rare, the idea behind the purchase was to boost xbox with family/ kids games.

which is why to this day all their games are for kids.

however, most of xbox owners aren't age at 10 to 13 or girls to suck up these games. which is why they are selling much less than how much they used to sell @ nintendo.
Maybe the drop of quality and mass appeal in their software also has something to do with it
 

APZonerunner

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Maybe the drop of quality and mass appeal in their software also has something to do with it
I don't think there's really been a drop in quality overall. Ghoulies and PDZ were mediocre, but those two games came from a weird place and a weird time, switching from GC to Xbox, and in some cases even with N64 lineage in there.

If you look at their output this gen, though -- you've got Viva Pinata and its sequel, which are both excellent period. Nuts & Bolts isn't what people wanted from a Banjo game, but is also an excellent game all of its own. Kameo is probably still the great underrated 360 launch game, a little gem.

Xbox Live Avatars, Kinect Sports and Season Two aren't what people with fond memories of the company with Nintendo want from Rare, but all three have been extremely profitable endeavours. The Kinect Sports games have sold well and are polished/well-accomplished titles.

They had a shitty time for a few years after the buy-out, but I actually think Rare still makes quality games - just not what people who remember Banjo/Conker/DKC want.
 

Jackano

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Poor productivity? OP's is all wrong.
$400M was a good deal for it, and the story make this deal even better each day.

However gamers lost the most in this. I can't imagine a Gamecube/Wii/WiiU line-up with both the power of Retro's games and Rare's games.
 
Oct 1, 2009
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Poor productivity? OP's is all wrong.
$400M was a good deal for it, and the story make this deal even better each day.

However gamers lost the most in this. I can't imagine a Gamecube/Wii/WiiU line-up with both the power of Retro's games and Rare's games.
Why are so many people misinterpreting what I wrote? I wasn't saying that their productivity was poor, I was pointing out how productive they really were despite the fact that it is alleged Nintendo let them go because of poor productivity.
 
Oct 1, 2009
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That's literally in the thread title! lol XD :p
The thread title isn't representative of my own opinion expressed in the OP. I was putting for the question "was Rare's productivity poor"? I can't help it if people just glance at the thread titled and don't read the OP for context.
 

lunchwithyuzo

Banned
Jun 20, 2010
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EAD was comparably sized and on N64 they released:

1996
  • Super Mario 64
  • Wave Race 64
  • Mario Kart 64

1997
  • Star Fox 64
  • Yoshi Story

1998
  • 1080* Snowboarding
  • Pocket Monsters Stadium (JP only)
  • F-Zero X
  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

1999
  • Pokémon Stadium
  • Mario Artist: Paint Studio (64DD)

2000
  • Mario Artist: Communication Kit (64DD)
  • Mario Artist: Polygon Studio (64DD)
  • Mario Artist: Talent Studio (64DD)
  • F-Zero X: Expansion Set (64DD)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask
  • Pokémon Stadium 2

2001
  • Animal Crossing (JP only)
 

Akey

Banned
May 7, 2012
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I think there is many things others can take from the Rare buy out. Do not over spend on a company that is best known for success of games to franchises they do not own. If you are a company trying to get purchased for large amount of money like Rare make a name for your self on franchises you own. I lost some of my love for Rare once I played DK64 and later the almost unplayable because of frame rate BK2. After starfox it was all gone.
 

Shotgun Kiss

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If Rare were still with Nintendo, I think it's certain Banjo would have been in Smash Bros. Brawl.

That makes me sad.
 

Shiggy

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Jun 10, 2004
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No idea. They'd had enough. Bored. They've not done anything else since, really, either, so it seems they just wanted to stop working period. Don't think they liked the ever-increasing fame/press attention, either.



Pretty sure it was part of the deal with MS. They stayed only as long as they had to. It's pretty standard for these cases when a sale is negotiated for a period of time from sale when the current brass stay on in order to ensure a smooth transition and not fuck the golden goose. It was probably a five-year deal, with some sort of performance-based wriggle room, as they left six months shy of five years.

Either way, the Stampers wanted to sell their share in the company and move on. They took some time to move on, but they wanted to sell to Nintendo. Nintendo said no, find someone else, and when they began looking Nintendo decided to sell their share too rather than negotiate terms constantly with another company. When it was both sides up for grabs it began to get too expensive for EA/Activision, so MS bought them. That was that.

What's your proof that the Stampers wanted to leave the company? They managed the company incredibly bad and yet Microsoft forced them to stay? I'm sorry, I heard different stories which rather imply that Microsoft demanded a management change when they finally saw that the wastage of resources could not continue.

For example, after the Stampers left, the different teams were finally allowed to see the projects of the other teams. The company also became more open to the public.

How these changes are communicated to the public does not always mean that it's also what happened. Look at how they communicated the sacking of Mark Betteridge in 2010. Betteridge had been at the company for many years and became studio head in 2007: http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2010-10-28-scott-henson-appointed-rare-studio-manager
Betteridge was sacked several months before that, nonetheless they posted this story months later.
 

CamHostage

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Not only were all those games shipped over that period, but they also had a number of demos and work-in-progress games somewhere in that same period (PDZ, Donkey Kong Racing/Sabreman Stampede, Kameo, and Banjo 3 all were said to have been concepted as GC projects and probably a few had some life as N64 demos previously.) They had so many games in the works that they constantly ran into running out of game platform life on development projects (Starfox Adventures was Dinosaur Planet on N64, Kameo was on Cube and Xbox before 360, etc.)

And on top of all that, a fair portion of these games had GB/GBA versions developed alongside them, especially in Rare's glory days. PD, KI, Conker, Mickey's Speedway, DKL/DKC, DK/Banjo Pilot, all saw portable products (and Banjo Pilot was the only one not developed concurrently with console releases.)

Putting aside their SNES games and numerous handheld titles...
Heh, don't forget, they also made practically every NES game not made by TOSE.
 

POWERSPHERE

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Nov 4, 2006
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Remember this?
It gives a good idea of their (prior) success (data as of Jan 2007)

Blue=SNES
Yellow=GB
Green=N64
Pink=GBC
Purple=GC
Aquamarine=GBA
Lime green=XB/360
Silver=DS
Fuck did Blast Corps really sell that bad? They should resell it on iOS.
 

iMerc

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Nov 25, 2012
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You imply that they left voluntarily. Which is as much the case as Mark Betteridge leaving his position voluntarily. Rare Ltd. was managed pretty badly as evidenced by various anonymous reports and the delays/cancellations during the Xbox era.
yes Rare could have been managed better, but are you implying the Stampers were 'pressured' to leave? by whom?
I would be surprised here if that were the case as they owned a majority share in the company pre-MS buyout...


being rich and there's also being richer; the Stampers wouldn't have sold Rare if there's potential in the company to grow and for them to make even more money selling them later. The fact that Rare is locked to Nintendo already limits their potential for growth greatly.
again, they were looking to retire. the time they would be required to stick around to make as much money as they made with the selling of their shares would be anyone's guess.

and then there's the nIntendo market and the types of games Rare makes. The userbase who buys their games is right there for them. Being 'limited' to nintendo isn't a limitation if the market you target overlaps with the same kind of user that likes Nintendo games.
Rare was already in the best place to sell their games to as many users as they possibly could, as evident by their game sales on snes & n64 in comparison to any other platform they've sold their games on. ever.

They sold their shares, yes. However it had very little to do with any 'market conditions'.

When Rare became a "second party", Nintendo initially only bought around 10% of the company, not 49%. Every time the Stampers needed more money, they sold a few more percentage points to Nintendo. Eventually the Stampers ended up having sold 49%.

The Stampers needed another hit of cash, but they didn't want to sell 2% of the company and become "minority shareholders" in a company that was not owned by them. Rare's stock price was at an all-time high, so they decided it was time to cash out.

Nintendo had been willing to spend a few thousand here, a few thousand there, but they weren't willing to spend $500 million all-at-once. They would rather gain $500 million all-at-once. Nintendo asked the Stampers to find a new buyer.

Microsoft was willing to buy, but they didn't want to become partners with Nintendo, so Nintendo sold their 49% back to the Stampers on credit, and the Stampers sold the whole thing to Microsoft.


Want to know something painful? Nintendo actually owned all of Rare's IPs (the ones created while they were together). If you're aware of some games that claimed to be owned by Rare, those are really just a lie. Nintendo owned a completely different company that was also called Rare, and that company owned any Rare IP that wasn't owned by Nintendo directly.

When Rare was packing up to leave, Nintendo sold them a rights package containing some specific IPs that the Stampers wanted to own. NOA did this because Arakawa/Lincoln and the Stampers are buddies. That's why, for example, Nintendo owns Krystal (a character Rare created for a Starfox game), while Rare owns Conker (a character Rare created for a Donkey Kong game). There was no ruleset for the divorce, NOA and Rare just worked it out like gentlemen.

That's why they remained close enough to work on handheld games.
Perfect. This.
Exactly THIS.

Nintendo could have made the transition to Microsoft VERY legally painful.
They didn't because they parted on very good terms. Not exactly the gaming 'monsters' people choose to think of them as.
 
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poor Rare..their N64 output was amazing. only got to play Blast Corps earlier this year but holy crap what a gem i missed out on, so much fun



eh, wasn't N64 kinda dead in the water by then? Looming GC, with a desire to minimize post-launch drought which plagued its predecessor, i think that's a bit've hard sell there (as much as idve liked to see those 3 localized)
Conker sold 400,000 in the US alone and almost a million worldwide. Those aren't THAT terrible numbers. The N64 was fading in 2001, under the weight of industry attention to the PS2, but it didn't have to die quite as quickly as Nintendo let it, had they kept supporting it until the GC released. I imagine that they ditched it because N64 sales always had been bad in Japan anyway, so as soon as US sales started declining they dumped it... mistake.

Wait, can I get a source on this? As someone who often feels like one of the only dozen or so Ghoulies fans in existence, you've got me curious. :p
Gah... where DID I read that? Does anyone else remember hearing that?

RARE was like 4 times the size of Intelligent Systems in late 90's. They also have different purposes like both IS and HAL are constantly involved in development tools and technology R&D.
Only four times the size? They managed to release eleven times more N64 games, though! :)

Totally agree.

Nintendo's reason for dismissing Rare made no sense because most of their internal teams had the same issue.

Given the fact that Iwata shut down most of Nintendo's western division, Rare's probably was among his plan to turn Nintendo japanese-centric the way it had become under his direction.
Iwata's strategy of abandoning Western first/second-party development (Retro and NST excepted, for whatever reason) in favor of almost exclusively Japanese partnerships is maybe his worst legacy, yeah. The Japanese relationships he built up were good, and have been very beneficial to Nintendo. But abandoning almost all of their old Western partners was awful, and has led to Nintendo's systems having fewer and fewer relevant Western games. Some of that was an inevitable outcome of Microsoft entering the console industry, but it didn't have to be as bad as it is.
 

Cheerilee

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Apr 14, 2005
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really cool stuff, but do you have a source on this?
it's not because i don't believe you, because i do, i'm just curious.
Internet detective work. When Rare left, people wondered what IPs they were going to take with them. People remembered that some games were published by Rare, and other games were published by Nintendo. It was also possible that Rare had some sort of "creator's rights" and owned all of their artistic creations. People checked the US Patent office website, and it confirmed that some IPs were owned by "Rare", and most were owned by Nintendo. The IPs lined up perfectly with the publishing credits. So people thought they had their answer.

But almost right away, Nintendo and Microsoft started using IPs that were strangely not on the correct lists. This also added more confirmation that Rare didn't have blanket "creator's rights" to everything they worked on.

Then people took a closer look at Nintendo's financial records.



The names on the left were owned by Nintendo outright. The names on the right were Nintendo's second parties.

People checked the US Patent Office website again, and the IPs once believed to be owned by Rare were actually not owned by "Rareware Limited", the second party, they were owned by "Rare Limited", the Nintendo-owned shell company. Nintendo owned all of the IP, one way or the other.

Apparently Nintendo set up this shell company at some point because Nintendo and Rare occasionally disagreed on what makes a good game. Since Nintendo controlled the money, Nintendo always won those arguments, but one day Nintendo decided to make a bank account, wrote Rare's name on it, and put a few million dollars into it. If Rare was sure that Nintendo was wrong and their game idea was really good, they were allowed to ask the "Rare" bank account to publish the game. If the Rare account grew, then Nintendo would admit that Rare was right, and Rare would have more freedom to make the games they wanted. If the Rare account shrank and died, Nintendo would say "I told you so" and Rare would have to go back to doing what Nintendo said all the time. The Rare account was still alive and well before the divorce.
 

ec0ec0

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First, of course, thanks Cheerilee for taking the time for posting that. I still dont know why many of the things that i read on this thread seem familiar to me, as if i had read them a loooot ago. Maybe is just my imagination.

Now, i think that i missing something on this part:

"If Rare was sure that Nintendo was wrong and their game idea was really good, they were allowed to ask the "Rare" bank account to publish the game. If the Rare account grew, then Nintendo would admit that Rare was right, and Rare would have more freedom to make the games they wanted. If the Rare account shrank and died, Nintendo would say "I told you so" and Rare would have to go back to doing what Nintendo said all the time. The Rare account was still alive and well before the divorce."

why would rare ask that to the "Rare" account? what had rare to do, in that same situation, before that account existed? what did rare know about that account, if anything? Maybe i dont understand how those things work. From what you wrote, i understood that nintendo used that account to manipulate rare?...
 

Lijik

Member
Sep 16, 2008
17,868
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Remember this?
It gives a good idea of their (prior) success (data as of Jan 2007)

Blue=SNES
Yellow=GB
Green=N64
Pink=GBC
Purple=GC
Aquamarine=GBA
Lime green=XB/360
Silver=DS
Cant believe Saberwulf sold so poorly, I remember that being a pretty good game
 

IceDoesntHelp

Banned
May 24, 2011
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Thank you Cheerilee those two posts were very interesting reads :D
I never knew any of that, now out of curiosity, why is Rare aloud to make handheld games on the GBA/DS?
 

Kard8p3

Member
Jan 22, 2008
11,663
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Wow some interesting stuff about Rare in this topic. Kind of wish Nintendo would've held on to a couple ip at least.
 
Aug 6, 2006
13,029
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Thank you Cheerilee those two posts were very interesting reads :D
I never knew any of that, now out of curiosity, why is Rare aloud to make handheld games on the GBA/DS?
Rare's handheld team was merged into the main studio after Viva Pinata DS, so they do not make handheld games anymore (for Nintendo or any other platforms), but Microsoft had a few reasons to likely allow Rare to continue making Nintendo handheld games, including that MS itself didn't have a handheld so it wasn't direct competition to Microsoft platforms (some other MS-license titles showed up on the DS too, such as MechAssault: Phantom War and two Zoo Tycoon games, though they weren't made by MS itself), and that MS had spent a huge amount of money for Rare, and the handheld games actually made money. Those are probably the most likely reasons.
 

Shikamaru Ninja

任天堂 の 忍者
EAD was comparably sized and on N64 they released:
Technically, you would compare the totality of RARE in-house to the totality of Nintendo in-house. EAD really is just one of the divisions inside Nintendo. But for fun, Paper Mario and several other games had in-house EAD staff on the hands-on team as well (not just supervisory).

The names on the left were owned by Nintendo outright. The names on the right were Nintendo's second parties.
No need to ignore their technically acurate names, subsidiaries and affiliates, for rather unsubstantiated "second-party" venacular. A word that doesn't exist in fiscal reports or investors meetings.


Apparently Nintendo set up this shell company at some point because Nintendo and Rare occasionally disagreed on what makes a good game. Since Nintendo controlled the money, Nintendo always won those arguments, but one day Nintendo decided to make a bank account, wrote Rare's name on it, and put a few million dollars into it. If Rare was sure that Nintendo was wrong and their game idea was really good, they were allowed to ask the "Rare" bank account to publish the game. If the Rare account grew, then Nintendo would admit that Rare was right, and Rare would have more freedom to make the games they wanted. If the Rare account shrank and died, Nintendo would say "I told you so" and Rare would have to go back to doing what Nintendo said all the time. The Rare account was still alive and well before the divorce.
I'm not really sure about the validity of all that. Nintendo has commonly created its own subsidiaries to handle technology and ip creation sub-contracted with independent companies. They did it with Argonaut, Williams, RARE, and I'm sure others. It was all sound and not as elaborate as the above proposal.
 

Soul_Pie

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Feb 21, 2010
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It was fairly short sighted of both Nintendo and Microsoft if you ask me.

First of all, Microsoft thought they could throw a crap tonne of money at something and think it would bring them success. Reading ex-rare people's thoughts on the company and the strength of the team was built around a lot of them having a great fondness for Nintendo but also appreciating the guiding hand that Nintendo offered. (even if they sometimes disagreed with it)

I think Nintendo equally underestimated the value of a game a year studio, we look at Nintendo's output at the end of the last two console generations and it's a barren wasteland. Even if Rare's output had decreased it would still offer gamers something on top of the typical Nintendo fare and offer a means of filling in those software gaps that have plagued Nintendo consoles (both in terms of diversity of library and long gaps in software releases)

In the end I don't think anyone really won out of this deal.
 

ec0ec0

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Dec 9, 2012
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"In the end I don't think anyone really won out of this deal."

If with "anyone" you are not only taking about nintendo and microsoft but also consumers, then that phrase is perfect.
 

Cheerilee

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Apr 14, 2005
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No need to ignore their technically acurate names, subsidiaries and affiliates, for rather unsubstantiated "second-party" venacular. A word that doesn't exist in fiscal reports or investors meetings.
The picture already had the technically accurate names. I just thought I should translate it into a more commonly-known term.

I already knew that "second party" is just a marketing term made up when Nintendo and Rare hooked up for Donkey Kong Country (as opposed to the first and third party terms, which existed inside and outside of videogames before Donkey Kong even existed). They were trying to say that DKC was a real DK game, and that it was somehow better than "just" a DK game outsourced to a third party. Means as much as Blast Processing.

My first use of "second party" in this thread was in quotes, but I got tired of typing it that way.

I'm not really sure about the validity of all that. Nintendo has commonly created its own subsidiaries to handle technology and ip creation sub-contracted with independent companies. They did it with Argonaut, Williams, RARE, and I'm sure others. It was all sound and not as elaborate as the above proposal.
I'll take your word for that. I know that you know a lot more than I do about how these things work.
 
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Nintendo had been willing to spend a few thousand here, a few thousand there, but they weren't willing to spend $500 million all-at-once. They would rather gain $500 million all-at-once. Nintendo asked the Stampers to find a new buyer.
The number is wrong as Nintendo was offered a price below what Microsoft ended up paying and they would have just had to pay the difference since they already owned 49% so the net cost to Nintendo would have been <$180M at once (and from rumors I've heard, perhaps around $110M). This is peanuts since even during that time Nintendo was sitting on billions of cash with no debt and they were a highly profitable company.

The reality is, Nintendo didn't want to cash out the founders only for them to leave a few years later and own an empty shell. Rare was struggling with retaining talent even during those days and there was no clear path to scale the company without the founders playing a big role in that process - and they had already signaled their exit. Nintendo decided it was better to take that money and put it back into building internal studios at home where they had more direct control - and frankly, they got a great return on their original investment in Rare.

I've done a bit of research on the IP stuff - it is a bit more complicated than that and not just NoA/Rare being buddies, since Nintendo represented to Rare that they would work something out with regards to IP at a later point if there were ever a dissolution. If the situation didn't work itself out, there would have been a lot of litigation and bad blood with regards to Nintendo and the rest of the development community. Nintendo avoided that since they didn't really believe anything they were giving up had a lot of value.

That said, in hindsight, Nintendo tried to get Rare at a price that was commensurate with the work they'd have to put into rebuilding it after the Stampers left. They couldn't work things out. Nintendo was also caught up in its own management issues at the time with the transition of Yamauchi and the change of guard at NoA which was largely responsible for the Rare relationship (many NoA folks were poached by Microsoft), and didn't want to deal with the management hassles. They instead decided to spend time beefing up their collaborations with Japanese studios, and in particular setting up EAD Tokyo, etc.

Finally as to this speculation about Nintendo owning 49% and Microsoft owning 51% - Nintendo had co-sale rights. The operating agreement Nintendo had with Rare was probably clear in that if the Stampers sold their equity, they had to find a buyer for Nintendo's entire stake, so that scenario would never have happened unless Nintendo waived that provision. Microsoft also knew very little about making creative acquisitions of the sort - and had no experience with M&A where creative people leave - they were REALLY lucky with Bungie who had a game that was primed for release - and they had money to burn - and they just did what insecure multi-national firms tend to do - opened their checkbooks to the benefit of the Stampers and NCL.

Microsoft basically bid against themselves.
 

BY2K

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When Rare became a "second party", Nintendo initially only bought around 10% of the company, not 49%. Every time the Stampers needed more money, they sold a few more percentage points to Nintendo. Eventually the Stampers ended up having sold 49%.

The Stampers needed another hit of cash, but they didn't want to sell 2% of the company and become "minority shareholders" in a company that was not owned by them. Rare's stock price was at an all-time high, so they decided it was time to cash out.

Nintendo had been willing to spend a few thousand here, a few thousand there, but they weren't willing to spend $500 million all-at-once. They would rather gain $500 million all-at-once. Nintendo asked the Stampers to find a new buyer.

Microsoft was willing to buy, but they didn't want to become partners with Nintendo, so Nintendo sold their 49% back to the Stampers on credit, and the Stampers sold the whole thing to Microsoft.


Want to know something painful? Nintendo actually owned all of Rare's IPs (the ones created while they were together). If you're aware of some games that claimed to be owned by Rare, those are really just a lie. Nintendo owned a completely different company that was also called Rare, and that company owned any Rare IP that wasn't owned by Nintendo directly.

When Rare was packing up to leave, Nintendo sold them a rights package containing some specific IPs that the Stampers wanted to own. NOA did this because Arakawa/Lincoln and the Stampers are buddies. That's why, for example, Nintendo owns Krystal (a character Rare created for a Starfox game), while Rare owns Conker (a character Rare created for a Donkey Kong game). There was no ruleset for the divorce, NOA and Rare just worked it out like gentlemen.

That's why they remained close enough to work on handheld games.
Former RARE staff says this is a load of balls.

https://twitter.com/conkerhimself/status/352382027418443777
 

ec0ec0

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Dec 9, 2012
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"In my defense, fans would gossip less, or the gossip would be more accurate, if these guys told more stories. Write some tell-all books."

This. Again, this. We want to know.

EDIT: I am even more confused than before this thread happened...
 

Sponge

Banned
Dec 3, 2011
7,195
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If Rare were still with Nintendo, I think it's certain Banjo would have been in Smash Bros. Brawl.

That makes me sad.
I'm also certain he was planned for Melee at one point, he had to have been.

I honestly think something happened during Melee's development with Rare, or at least Nintendo knew Rare wasn't gonna stick around much longer.

I can't prove it, but the trophies in Melee representing Rare are a little odd. The Perfect Dark mine changing into a TOP SECRET mine, Dixie Kong, K. Rool, hell even Donkey Kong Jr. having trophies but no Diddy to be found.

Speaking of Dixie's trophy, she also is missing her Rare pin here.