|Parent company / owner||Microsoft|
|Divisions / Subsidiaries||N/A|
Rare, Ltd. (also known as Rareware and simply Rare) is a British independent video game company, currently based in Twycross, Leicestershire. Originally a Nintendo partner before being bought by Microsoft, Rare was responsible for developing the Donkey Kong Country series, as well as their own Banjo-Kazooie and Conker franchises, in addition to many others.
Rare was initially founded in 1985 as a subsidiary of Ashby Computers & Graphics Ltd, better known under their trade name Ultimate Play the Game. It's main purpose was to reverse-engineer the Famicom, as their parent company believed continuing development for the ZX Spectrum would not lead to further success. After Rare's success, Ashby sold the Ultimate branding in 1986 to U.S. Gold and proposed several game demos directly to Nintendo, who were impressed enough to grant them an unlimited budget. Afterward, Ashby moved their studio from Ashby-de-la-Zouch to Twycross and re-branded themselves under the name of their subsidiary, Rare.
With the release of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Rare only created ports of some of their successful games at first while using their NES profits to purchase Silicon Graphics technology, making them the most advanced developer in the region. Using this technology, Rare created an SGI demo for the SNES by pre-rendering the 3D models into 2D sprites, as the system was not capable of displaying full 3D graphics at the time. Impressed with the demo, Nintendo purchased a 25% share in Rare in 1994 Over time, this increased to 49%, making Rare a full second-party developer for Nintendo. During this time, Rare would create several games exclusively for Nintendo platforms, including being given the rights to develop for the Donkey Kong series.
In September 2002, Rare was entirely purchased by Microsoft for $375 million, making Rare a first-party developer for Microsoft's Xbox home console. However, for a time Rare would continue to develop for Nintendo's handheld consoles, as Microsoft was not competing in the handheld market.
Games published by Nintendo