Rare issues redundancy warning

Rare issues redundancy warning

By Rob Crossley

February 16th 2011 at 2:51PM

Microsoft claims studio cuts are small; Alleged insider insists cuts are deep

UK studio Rare is at the centre of conflicting accounts of layoffs across its art department.

An individual, said to be an inside studio source, has claimed that Rare’s entire art team – apparently 42 staff – have been told their jobs are at risk.

The anonymous source, speaking to Edge, added that affected workers at the Twycross studio have been urged to apply for a job at Rare’s other studio in Birmingham.

The individual claimed there are 23 “managerial” vacancies at Rare Birmingham looking to be filled.

Microsoft, Rare’s owning company, has implied the source’s claims are exaggerated, but wouldn’t deny them with definitive figures.

A spokesperson for the Xbox company said “I can confirm that a small number of employees” had been informed of possible redundancies.

The rep said the layoffs are due to the cyclical nature of game development.

"Whilst we’re not discussing the exact numbers involved, I can assure you that it’s far fewer than [Edge sources have] indicated and represents a small percentage of the total Rare team,” the spokesperson added.

Develop’s calls to Microsoft were left unanswered.

The alleged insider also claimed that some Rare staff have accepted voluntary redundancy.

Rare’s new Birmingham studio, which opened in March last year, has been hiring temp staff and students for temporary contract work.

The Birmingham facility is principally used for art design and play testing, and is said inhabits as many as 50 staff.

In an interview with Develop, former Rare studio head Mark Betteridge said the group’s focus on temporary staff will not lead to poorer quality of life standards.

“We’ve been very anxious that when we have contract staff in now that they are not made to feel like a second-grade citizen compared to everyone else,” he said at the time.

“We’ve gone out of our way to do everything we can for our own people.”

Betteridge was last year replaced by Scott Henson.