Earlier today, it was revealed that Rare had suffered layoffs of roughly 16 employees following soft sales for Kinect Sports Rivals. It has also been learned, however, that one of the team members let go was Chris Sutherland, the longtime announcer for the Killer Instinct series.
It had been excellent news to hear that Sutherland was returning to announce the Double Helix Killer Instinct reboot, and the game released to fairly positive reviews as a freemium launch title for the Xbox One. Fighting game fans were pleased with its complex fighting system and focus on competitive play, but Rare remained focused on developing the first big Kinect game for the system.
Microsoft Game Studios hasn’t seen the drastic layoffs suffered by other publishers like Sony or Electronic Arts, but they haven’t been immune to it. An earlier round of layoffs hit in April, and Rare is in an especially tricky place following the decision to sell an Xbox One bundle without the Kinect. The studio has been the device’s biggest supporter since it launched in 2009, developing three different Kinect Sports games.
Perhaps the studio is preparing to develop a game that uses a traditional control scheme and it will increase hiring in the future, but Microsoft’s experience with Rare thus far has not been a smashing success. 360 launch title Perfect Dark Zero was mediocre, and while Kameo: Elements of Power and Viva Piñata were great early releases, we haven’t seen anything from the franchises in years.
What would you like to see Rare work on next? Banjo-Three? A new Conker? Let us know in the comments!