Layoffs Possible As Rare Restructures

Microsoft-owned UK developer Rare (Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts) is currently "reviewing the current composition of its development teams," warning that a "small number" of layoffs could be coming as part of its restructuring plan.
Microsoft-owned British developer Rare says it is taking a close look at its team structure, warning that layoffs could be coming as part of its restructuring plan. "As the entire industry struggles to address the increasing scale and cost of development, we too have felt a need to restructure our current approach so we can speed development and better manage the scale required to create high quality games," said studio manager Mark Betteridge in a press announcement. "With four projects recently underway, now is the right time to make this change." Rare outlined three goals for its restructuring, which include further expanding the Xbox 360 customer base, better supporting efforts to extend Xbox Live's appeal, and "continue delivering AAA gaming experiences." "In order to achieve these goals, the company is reviewing the current composition of its development teams and there is the possibility that a small number of current positions could be lost as a result of these changes," said Rare. The restructuring announcement comes weeks after Microsoft closed two other renowned internal developers, Ensemble Studios (Halo Wars, Age of Empires series) and ACES Studio (Flight Simulator series). The platform holder revealed in January that it will lay of 5,000 employees in the next 18 months, almost five percent of its total workforce, hoping to "realign Microsoft’s business" in the face of a deteriorating economy. Rare's statement continued: "As we restructure to successfully execute against our shared strategy within this framework, we will be implementing a new approach to current projects in the pipeline that could serve as an industry-wide model for how to achieve a more efficient and scalable development process." Founded in 1982 as Ashby Computers and Graphics Ltd., Rare produced a number of acclaimed titles for Nintendo systems throughout the 1990s and early 2000s such as the Donkey Kong Country franchise and GoldenEye 007. The studio was acquired by Microsoft in 2002, where the studio has since worked on Viva Piñata, the Xbox 360's avatar system, and Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts. Among other projects, the developer is currently working on Banjo-Tooie, an XBLA version of its Nintendo 64 platformer with graphical updates and new features, due April 2009. "Throughout its history, Rare has demonstrated a willingness to embrace new approaches and commitment to delivering game-changing experiences to our customers," said Betteridge. "This announcement is no different and builds on that tradition as we work with MGS to make interactive entertainment as culturally relevant in people’s lives as books, movies and television are today."

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