MS: Rare in a position of strength

Kinect Sports sales "far exceed" expectations.

The threat of redundancies looms large over Kinect Sports developer Rare, but owner Microsoft has insisted the studio's future is bright.

"Rare is currently in a position of considerable strength as Kinect Sports sales have far exceeded global expectations and the title is No. 1 on the Kinect platform," a Microsoft spokesperson told Eurogamer this afternoon.

A "small" number of employees in Rare's art department have been told their roles are at risk of redundancy, Microsoft confirmed today.

It's all part of Rare's "ongoing strategy and operational planning which typically coincides with the shipment of a title", the maker of the eight million unit selling Kinect said.

Speaking to Edge, sources said all 42 art department staff at Rare were told their jobs were at risk of redundancy and all affected staff had to apply for 23 managerial jobs at Rare's new Birmingham office effectively meaning 19 staff will be let go.

Microsoft disputed this claim. "Whilst we're not discussing the exact numbers involved, they are far fewer than reported and represent a small percentage of the total Rare team," it told Eurogamer.

Reports suggest Rare intends to become a studio primarily staffed by contractors. Edge's source said development of the Kinect Sports franchise may be shared between Rare and Kinect Joy Ride maker Big Park.

In October last year Microsoft veteran Scott Henson took over Rare as studio manager. Following his appointment he told Eurogamer Kinect development is the "centrepiece" of Rare's strategy.

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