Despite what many may think, the world of gaming isn’t always a fun industry to be in. At times it’s quite the opposite, and business relationships come to a screeching halt at every turn. As the blurb above has already mentioned, breakups aren’t reserved exclusively for real-world people, with several major gaming-centric splits completely altering the landscape of the entire industry. To-date there have been numerous examples of this, but we’ve taken on the task of narrowing down this laundry list of separations to a very modest six.
These game-based parting of ways aren’t all bad, and some of the parties involved even work together to this day, but there’s no denying the impact that each of these splits had on the medium. With that said, others have an incredibly sour relationship that will likely never be mended. Keeping all of that in mind, Game Rant’s selection of gaming’s six greatest divorces kicks off below.
One of the greatest pairings of the Super Nintendo and Nintendo 64 era were Nintendo and Rare Ware. The two companies worked together on a number of classic games ranging from Banjo-Kazooie and Conker’s Bad Fur Day to Donkey Kong Country and GoldenEye 007, but members of the gaming world were left with their collective maws ajar when Nintendo announced it had sold its shares in the company to Microsoft. In the eyes of many, the United Kingdom-based studio fell into a funk following this transaction, but Microsoft was still more than willing to allow the developer to continue working with Nintendo on the mobile side of things.
Bringing Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty’s Revenge, Viva Piñata: Pocket Paradise, Diddy Kong Racing DS, and more to Nintendo handhelds, the firm has eased back on working with Nintendo software. Even then, Microsoft has refused to rule out the possibility of one day seeing Banjo-Kazooie appear in the likes Super Smash Bros., or even have additional handheld support down the road. Perhaps we’ll see more from the Rare pair one day, but the recent surge in popularity for mobile titles may limit those odds.
This wasn’t so much a breakup as it was a parting of ways. After creating and developing sequels for the Halo franchise, Bungie wanted to move on to its own projects. As a result, a deal was made that would see Bungie go off on its own after wrapping up work on Halo: Reach, leaving Microsoft to create 343 Industries to continue work on the property. After completion of Reach in 2010, the firm moved on from Master Chief and began creating another sci-fi gangbuster that would eventually become known as Destiny. Bungie may never develop under the Microsoft Studios banner again, but there doesn’t appear to be any form of ill will between the two.
There was a time that Nintendo and Square Enix (then SquareSoft) were nearly inseparable. Back in the 90s, however, Square issued a statement that shocked the gaming world, claiming that it would be abandoning Nintendo hardware in order to pursue the technology present in Sony’s spiffy new PlayStation console. This decision was allegedly made due to the storage space and cost associated with CD-ROMs versus cartridges, but some speculation says that it goes a little deeper than that.
Regardless, SquareSoft would remain set on developing for the PlayStation until the Game Boy Advance released, eventually opting to support the GameCube and future Nintendo hardware. It’s hard to believe all of this ruckus started over Final Fantasy 7, although Cloud duking it out with Mario in the latest Super Smash Bros. installment is rather symbolic of the companies’ current relationship.
Vince Zampella and Jason West are now notorious amongst gamers for their court case against Activision, but back in 2002 they were just two of the three developers that started a new studio called Infinity Ward. Funded by Activision, the team utilized its experience from working on Medal of Honor: Allied Assault and went about creating a little franchise known as Call of Duty.
Activision helped set up the developers before eventually snatching up the entirety of the firm, but it all went awry in 2009 when Zampella and West were fired for “breaches of contract and insubordination”. Specifics on what unfolded were never truly brought into focus, but the pair went off to start another studio under Electronic Arts known as Respawn Entertainment. Know which title came from that formation? That’s right, Titanfall.
While some spats are based on industry whispers, the fallout from this one is pretty well documented. For whatever reason, famed developer and Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima fell from grace with his employer Konami, which resulted in his departure from the company. After removing Kojima’s name from all packaging for MGS and banning the dev from accepting an award for his work on Phantom Pain, the frustrated consumer base made sure to voice its immense displeasure of the way the company went about handling the beloved game creator’s departure.
Kojima has since partnered up with Sony to create a new studio (with a familiar name), Kojima Productions. The first game being spearheaded by the developer is Death Stranding, starring none other than actor Norman Reedus. Meanwhile, Konami is still trying to regain trust from gamers, but it looks like it’ll still be quite some time given the backlash from Metal Gear Survive.
It’s crazy to think, but at one point Sony and Nintendo were working together on a brand new console that was set to be the successor to the SNES. Just as the companies were preparing to finalize plans for the platform, Nintendo pulled out of the deal in order to pursue its own Nintendo 64. This left Sony with an outline for a CD-ROM enabled gaming console, and the company decided to pull the trigger on the initiative. As it turns out, this was an incredibly important move for the entire gaming industry.
The PlayStation brand was born from this and it quickly overtook Nintendo’s cartridge-based system, thanks primarily to its disc-based interface and resulting third-party support. Since then, the two have remained competitors, with small glimmers of what could have been emerging from time to time. Most recently a dev kit for the Nintendo PlayStation emerged, cementing the proposed partnership as one of the (if not the) greatest failed alignments in the history of video games.
There have been many breakups in gaming, and there are sure to be even more down the road. That said, those listed above are just a handful of the most signifiant splits that we at Game Rant wanted to highlight. With that in mind, be sure to leave a comment pertaining to a gaming-centric separation that you believe should have made the cut.