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Microsoft confirms redundancies at Rare

Twycross team downsized as roles open up at Birmingham facility

Kinect Sports team Rare is currently in the process of down-sizing once again, with a number of redundancies likely in the studios art department.

According to a report by Edge Online, 42 jobs are being cut at the Twycross headquarters with those affected invited to apply to 23 roles a the new Birmingham facility. 19 is the maximum number of redundancies allowed under EU law without the need for consultation.

"I can confirm that a small number of employees in the art department of Rare Studios have been informed that their roles are at risk of redundancy," said a spokesperson for the company.

"While redundancies are never easy, these organisational changes are part of Rare's ongoing strategy and operational planning which typically coincides with the shipment of a title. We are working closely with the affected employees to support them through this transition and help them apply for other roles within Microsoft.

The spokesperson would not clarify numbers, but denied as many as 19 jobs were at risk.

"Whilst we're not discussing the exact numbers involved, I can assure you that it's far fewer than you've indicated and represents a small percentage of the total Rare team," said the company.

The Edge report suggests that Rare will primarily be staffed by contracted creatives, led by the newly created management roles, and that any future Kinect Sports games could be co-developed with Kinect Joy Ride team Big Park.

Rare told said last year that it was moving towards movie production development, with teams scaling up and down depending on projects.

"Teams have become somewhat unwieldy in the development process - very inflexible, very expensive," studio director Mark Betteridge told GamesIndustry.biz at the time.

"Over the last six or seven years it's really started to get out of hand, and companies and teams that were having great success before are realising the same thing."

"Avatars was the perfect example of a small project that we were able to put forward to Microsoft, which was then green-lit and went into full production... we developed that project with just the core people here as employed by Rare, probably four or five people was all it was," he explained.

"But there was sometimes in excess of 30 people, sometimes contractors, working on that project. That's a simple example, but it shows how we're able to think - creatively the idea is the diamond, and to bring that to fruition you need a lot more people in flexible and specialised roles than you're used to."

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Latest comments (11)

Terence Gage Freelance writer 8 years ago
That's a shame; best wishes and all that. Seems ironic that they've just opened up a new Rare studio and then make cuts at the old one...
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Derek Paul Studying Game Development, Algonquin College8 years ago
It's sad that this happening to Rare, they used to make awesome games.

I'm still hoping for a Perfect Dark or Banjo-Kazooie sequel.
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I doubt if a movie production method builds good team spirit.

People cant come/go and move their lives at will. Well maybe for some folks, they are used to it.
It would be interesting to see if this venture works out or falls flat for all.

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Show all comments (11)
Mike Clegg Marketing/Design 8 years ago
Quite a few companies trimming staff by 'around twenty..' at the moment. As the article states 19 is the maximum number a company can make redundant without consultation.

The industry is now going through a tough period of complete reconstruction. The UK console industry is in the firing line - but it will be the first to re-invent itself. It isn't going to be easy though.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Mike Clegg on 16th February 2011 8:07pm

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Private Industry 8 years ago
All the best also to them soon I`m going to have that sentence constantly in my clipboard if that continues that way, but that probably stops once the new financial year starts until December and than starts again.

I think people working on movies are getting payed a bit more and can compensate not working several months until they find something new and there are a few central areas where movie production is going on like LA, but that`s not the case with games. Especially with the slowly reducing amount of dev studios in the UK, you can have now a job there the next one in Canada, after that in the US and after that in Germany. Some people like to travel and see many different countries, but many people have a family and you can`t expect from them to relocate every 12-18 month and if they leave them behind they constantly need to pay flights and pay for a second flat. It`s not like that practice isn`t in use in the industry. In QA that`s common practice across the board, but it`s not very fun there might be another project after your current one or maybe not and if you are at a place that you like and people you can work with well you don`t look for something new because there might be something after that and if not you might need to relocate to another country for the same fun again.

In the movie industry you have often the same people always working together with, you got your director x who is always working with the same camera crew he has his preferd actors that he hires, light guys and so on and yes that works for them they can afford to not work for months because they get paid a lot and the next movie they work in is shot where they live with the exception for a few off site locations. Still if you talk about sucessfull movies they are a team they work always together before they know they can work together to know how each person works. If you do that with games you always get people who need to get used to how things run at the new place how the people work because the people you worked with previously just moved on to work somewhere else. I`m not sure that will work for Rare, with let`s face it projects lately that can`t take that long to complete, compared to studios that work on projects for 2-3 or more years. If you do a new engine for your next high profile game your programmer might be perfectly fine with staying there for 2 years or a bit more and than maybe move on or stay there and he probably takes that job offer unlike the programmer who get`s offered something for 8-10 months with the same pay to do a Wii sports rip off and than maybe has to look for something new.
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Craig Burkey Software Engineer 8 years ago
With Blast Corps 2, Killer Instinct 3, Perfect Dark 2, Conker Bad Fur Day 2 in the future I don't think Rare will go anywhere. Does seem strange they are sacking their artists and yet all they've released recently seems to be is the Avatars and a reskin of Wii Sports
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Private Industry 8 years ago
Do you really need artists for Avatars and a reskin of Wii Sports? The last game I really liked was Kameo and funny enough some people there think they should have scrapped it. Like I said sorry for the people who are without a job now, but there wasn`t a game I enjoyed since a long time compared to what great games where done in the past.

For the moment all those games are just wishful thinkin, Killer Instinct maybe it`s bloody so it does fit the core market. Conker, well as a Kinect title maybe I don`t think MS would want to make a normal colorful funny platformer thats played with a controller.
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Some kinect thingy?
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.8 years ago
Craig, Andrew, are those titles actually in development? Rare now seems to be more a behind the scenes UI and service company more so than a game development studio.
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Sanjay Jagmohan Project Monitor (Functionality Team Lead), SEGA Europe8 years ago
@Jimmy - That's exactly what I was thinking...
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.8 years ago
Indeed they were, John. But after several key people left and Nintendo sold back all their shares they've simply not been the same company and as of late have put forth more effort into X360 console social features than games.
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