Rare was once a close partner to Nintendo, cranking out hit games like Banjo-Kazooie, GoldenEye 007, and Donkey Kong 64. As development costs increased on newer hardware, Rare founders Tim and Chris Stamper began looking for a buyer for the company. Microsoft famously swooped in and paid a whopping $375 million to acquire the developer in 2002, largely ending their partnership with Nintendo.
Speaking with IGN Unfiltered, Xbox co-creator Ed Fries revealed that this buyout almost unfolded a very different way. Up until the last moments of the deal with Microsoft, Rare was actually planning to sell out to Activision instead.
“So we put in a bid and then Activision outbid us, and it looked like we were going to lose the deal. And then at the very last minute Robbie increased our bid and we won the deal. And that was it. Who knows what could have happened with Rare.”
— Ed Fries
Robbie Bach was the head of Microsoft’s Xbox division at the time, and his last minute decision to increase his bid was just enough to seal the deal.