Rare once planned to develop Killer Instinct 3, former Rare modeller Donnchadh Murphy has revealed, but Microsoft red-lit the project in order to focus on younger audience demographics.
"The big change in Rare came when the company went up for sale, people were unsure of the future of Rare," Murphy commented in an engaging Not Enough Shaders interview.
"When they announced Microsoft was buying, a lot of people were unsure if it was a good or bad thing. For one, MS had deep pockets so financial security seemed assured, but on the other hand they were relatively new to the games market, and complete infants in the console market.
"Personally I don't think it was a great mix. At first it seemed that they wouldn't interfere much, but it was soon clear that they were more interested in using Rare to help aim at a younger market. This stifled a lot of creativity, Rare was renowned for their diverse portfolio, so to not be involved in making Mature games was a real blow."
As the publisher's focus on capturing new audiences became clear, a number of key Rare staff departed. "When [founders Chris and Tim Stamper] left it seemed that Microsoft was losing faith in Rare, it was hard to take when all around were incredibly talented people, with massive amounts of experience. There [were] numerous projects that were put forward that I believe would have been huge hits, but MS rejected them one after the other.
"I remember seeing a couple of prototypes that [Conker's Bad Fur Day designer] Chris Seavor had designed and was working on, that looked amazing, but alas they got shelved. It seemed that MS didn't want to take the risk in Rare doing anything outside the younger demographic, they quickly forgot the companies [sic] heritage. We started to lose a lot of great talent then, people were losing job satisfaction, so they just left."
Which major Rare IP would Murphy like to revive? "Probably the same game every Rare fan wants to see and that's Killer Instinct. We all wanted to make KI3, but Microsoft [was] more interested in broadening their demographic than making another fighting game. So it never got made, I doubt it ever will."