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How Kinect's rise and fall changed game dev at Rare

Eurogamer recently spoke to a posse of designers who'd worked at Kinect Sports maker Rare as the company staked its money, talent and reputation on making games for Microsoft's Kinect hardware.

Alex Wawro, Contributor

December 17, 2015

2 Min Read

"We were literally putting kitchen foil from supermarkets over windows, to get the best lighting conditions possible. It was an exciting time because it was all new, and everyone wanted to be the next one figuring something cool out. But it was also a really frustrating, pull-your-hair-out time."

- Former Rare designer Gavin Price remembers the early days of Kinect game development.

When Microsoft launched the Kinect Xbox 360 peripheral in 2010, many felt it was a breath of fresh air for the industry: in a few months Kinect surpassed 10 million units sold, and so did Kinect-enabled games.

Less than four years later, Microsoft began removing the second edition of Kinect from the Xbox One consoles it was bundled with, leaving some Kinect game developers feeling hung out to dry.

Now, developers may appreciate that Eurogamer recently spoke to a posse of designers who'd worked at Kinect Sports maker Rare as the company shifted focus to making Kinect games. They found that while many were disappointed by Kinect's rise and fall, they didn't blame Microsoft for moving away from the technology.

"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," former Rare designer Gavin Price told Eurogamer. "Every company makes mistakes...everybody likes to create this narrative that Microsoft are evil, but that's not the case."

Elsewhere in the feature Price and other ex-Rare devs noted that Rare poured resources into making Kinect games, rather than continuing to make the traditional 3D games (think: Banjo Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts, Viva Pinata) the studio was known for.

"I think because we'd not made a massive hit for Microsoft like we had before they bought us, people at Rare and Microsoft saw this as a chance for Rare to do something big and own an audience, a key part of Microsoft's business," said Price. "But the result was we couldn't work on the kinds of game we'd traditionally worked on, because there was such pressure to deliver a fantastic Kinect game, to inspire other developers."

For more details on the trials and triumphs Rare experienced in trying to make great Kinect games, check out the full feature over on Eurogamer.

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