The Glory Days
Back in the 90’s. Rare were one of the finest gaming studios around. They had reached the pinnacle of success and were renowned for their high quality games. A third party developer working exclusively for Nintendo at the time, they created some of the most beloved games out there. To name but a few Donkey Kong 64, Goldeneye, Banjo and Kazooie, Killer Instinct Gold, Perfect Dark, Conker’s Bad Fur Day & Diddy Kong Racing.
Their brand was synonymous with high quality gaming and at the time, not even Nintendo could produce better games for their own system (in my opinion….put the pitchforks down!) So what went wrong?
Change of Employer
After a deal with Nintendo fell through, Rare were bought up by Microsoft. This was around the time of the Microsoft Xbox 360 being in development & Rare were tasked with producing a rebooted version of Perfect Dark as a launch title. Although a serviceable addition, first person shooters had moved on and the brand of ‘Perfect Dark’ was practically unknown to Xbox consumers. This lead to the game under performing and not selling well. The companies follow up to this was a sequel to the beloved Banjo & Kazooie series. However, some odd design choices led to a game with re-modeled barely recognizable characters and the game itself threw away platforming in favor of an odd cart building game. It baffled consumers and as a result….didn’t sell
Scraping the Barrel
After two unsuccessful game launches, Rare were demoted to making games for Microsoft’s Kinect. Although those games weren’t half bad, the kinect itself was a piece of technology that never caught on. It was a camera that nobody wanted or asked for and a jaded outdated attempt to emulate the Wii long after everyone had moved on. Needless to say, none of Rare’s kinect games set the world alight.
But then, just as things weren’t looking good for Rare, it was announced that they were working on their own brand new IP for Microsoft. A swashbuckling pirate adventure, set in a rich online world where you and your friends can loot treasure, engage in naval battles & sail the open seas. The idea of this new game intrigued myself and many others. It was also said that they wanted the feeling of an adventure similar to the film ‘The Goonies’ as people played together and had fun adventures. Although this game took nearly four years to develop, early alpha and beta tests along with reveals at E3 kept people hyped for the game release.
Failure to Launch
March 20th 2018. Sea of Thieves releases at full price to the public. What should have been the reveal of a glorious new game turned into a bloodbath on the internet. The game, although very charming & also boasting some of the prettiest water physics out there landed with more of a flop than a bang. It was apparent to most that the game was very empty. It felt unfinished with little content to keep people playing. I for one don’t like to jump on the band wagon so early especially when it comes to online gaming. Both Destiny & Battlefront were sparse when they first launched and content was added slowly after feedback from the communities.
So perhaps Sea of Thieves ‘half finished’ game will grow and improve. However, an artist who worked on the game Rob Bedall stated recently the troubles the company went through during the four year development. It seems it was difficult to make any decisions and no clear vision was given to the project. Even during development, staff working on the project spoke out that there wasn’t really much of a game here but continued on in vain.
The game has sold well since launch but more and more heat has been building from critics and consumers alike. Many people have sought refunds and it feels like they almost have an impossible task ahead of them to save face. More content needs to be added quickly & at the very least, they need to respond to the feedback and react accordingly. I for one, hope they bounce back from this but it’s looking grim.
Is this the death of Rare? After 20+ years are they even the same games developers? Do you think Sea of Thieves is getting undeserved hate? Give me your feedback below.