Activision was originally interested in Rare, says ex-Xbox chief

By Johnny Cullen
27 October 2010 15:00 GMT


Did you honestly think it was a straight-out love affair between Microsoft and Nintendo over the affections of Rare? Think again: a certain Mr. K was involved too.

Ex-Xbox boss Ed Fries has revealed to Develop that Activision was once bidding for the UK dev studio before Microsoft bought it in 2002.

Fries, who was originally VP of game publishing for Microsoft until 2004, said he thought Rare was most interested in Acti more so then MS during negotiations at the time.

“There was a bit of a bidding war between us [Microsoft] and Activision – a war which they had won at first,” he said.

“They made the best initial offer, and Rare looked at both of us and, from the way I saw it, was more interested in partnering with Activision. I think it’s because they wanted to be third-party, independent of all platforms.”

But despite that – and a chance from Nintendo to fully takeover the studio, having owned half of it – something happened that made Activision go “cold” on the deal, according to Fries.

“Something happened between them and Activision. I don’t know what it was, 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 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.”

Microsoft eventually won out and bought Rare for $375 million eight years ago and have revamped its Perfect Dark and Banjo Kazooie series since as well as develop Avatars for 360.

Its currently working on Kinect for 360, with Kinect Sports being a launch title.

This past summer, for its 25th anniversary, the studio was also rebranded.

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