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Microsoft thought Rare was Activision's

Deal went mysteriously "cold", says Fries.

Ed Fries, the former Microsoft man instrumental in Rare's acquisition, has revealed how, from his perspective, the deal was Activision's to lose.

"They made the best initial offer," Fries revealed to Develop, "and Rare looked at both of us and, from the way I saw it, was more interested in partnering with Activision. It's because they wanted to be third-party, independent of all platforms."

There were rumours in 2002 that Rare had put pen to paper and signed along Bobby Kotick's dotted line.

But no, "something happened" that threw a spanner in the works.

"I don't know what it was," Fries admitted, "but relatively far along in the deal things got cold, and we made a counter offer.

"Our bid was bigger than Activision's, but Activision was still in control of the deal at the time. The prices were getting so high, by this point, that it didn't look like Nintendo (half-owner of Rare) was willing to participate.

"So, very near the end, Activision backed out of the deal, for reasons I still don't know, and Rare came to us."

Rare was eventually snapped up by Microsoft in September 2002, in a deal worth between £250 million and £350 million. Rare's most successful gaming contributions were Donkey Kong Country, GoldenEye 007, Perfect Dark and Banjo-Kazooie.

Founders Tim Stamper and Chris Stamper left Rare for uncharted pursuits in 2007.

Under Microsoft, Rare turned out Grabbed by the Ghoulies (Xbox, 2003), Conker: Live & Reloaded (Xbox, 2005), Kameo: Elements of Power (Xbox 360, 2005), Perfect Dark Zero (Xbox 360, 2005), Viva Pinata (Xbox 360, 2006), Viva Pinata 2 (Xbox 360, 2008) and Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts (2008).

More recently, Rare turned its attention to the New Xbox Experience of 2008 that introduced Avatars to Xbox Live. Today, Rare is put to work on Kinect and has Kinect Sports ready for the device's 10th November UK launch.

The studio has also pillaged its old portfolio and offered remastered releases of Banjo-Kazooie, Banjo-Tooie and Perfect Dark on Xbox Live.

Meanwhile, the Activision links to Rare continue, as Bobby Kotick's company prepares to launch a remake of GoldenEye on Wii. Martin Hollis, game designer of GoldenEye at Rare, thinks Activision was motivated by money rather than the desire to recreate a vintage classic. How silly.

Rare's latest: Kinect Sports.

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About the Author

Robert Purchese avatar

Robert Purchese

Senior Staff Writer

Bertie is senior staff writer and Eurogamer's Poland-and-dragons correspondent. He's part of the furniture here, a friendly chair, and reports on all kinds of things, the stranger the better.