You may have seen it GoldenEye 007 has been back in the news lately. We’re long known that Rare was planning an Xbox Live Arcade remake of the acclaimed shooter, and with permission from Youtuber Graslu00, last week gave us a full look at what it could have brought.
This led to a bit of a guilt game, with some fans believing that it was Nintendo that caused the cancellation of the new recording, as the original publisher of the N64 version (a fact perhaps not helped by Graslu00̵
Since the “longplay” video released last week, Graslu00 has been accused of misunderstanding this situation, leading them to issue a statement. The truth of the matter is this. Nintendo is not really to blame here – although it may have played a role in why it was never released.
GoldenEye 007 was – and remains – locked in a complicated rights situation, one that several previously rare developers have highlighted over the years. Nick Burton, a former senior software engineer at the studio, talked about the legal issues that prevented a release back in 2008, and said:
That was hard. To be fair, I kind of wished the differences were sorted out, but that’s obviously the licensing issue for Bond, even though something has already come out. It is incredibly difficult to solve because there are so many licensees involved. You have the guys who own the license for the gaming rights now, the guys who have the license for Bond as IP, and there are several licensees.
Back in 2007, when Rare planned the XBLA remake, GoldenEye’s rights were divided in several directions. While Nintendo previously released it, Rare had been bought out by Microsoft, and James Bond IP was (at the time) in Activision’s hands, which bizarrely ended up releasing its own GoldenEye 007 games for Wii in 2010.
It’s a situation that also does not help the Bond licensees, MGM and Eon Productions, who handle the film series based on Ian Fleming’s literary superspy. When I spoke to MundoRare a decade ago for an interview, game designer Duncan Botwood confirmed:
Licenses are by nature very restrictive agreements, and while GoldenEye 007 slipped past the licensee’s radar, the success of our game meant that subsequent games have been less fortunate, and probably less free of that kind of development oversight than the teams had wanted.
All things considered, there is certainly a possibility that Nintendo could have played a role in blocking the release. No matter how you look at it though, it seems highly unlikely that it had the last word in the matter; the situation is obviously much more complex than that.