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Why isn't GoldenEye in Rare's HD game collection? Here's the answer

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One of Microsoft's most interesting announcements from this E3 is Rare Replay, a collection of 30 Rare Software games spanning the past 30 years, all available for just under $30. And while many of Rare's most iconic franchises appear in the collection — the Banjo-Kazooie, Perfect Dark and Viva Piñata franchises are all represented in their entirety — one of the company's most well-loved games of all time is absent: GoldenEye 007 on the N64. But why?

While some might assume the game's non-appearance may have something to do with Rare's attempted GoldenEye XBLA remake way back in 2008 and the resulting licensing kerfuffle between Nintendo and Microsoft that ensued, Rare insisted that isn't the case. Speaking to Polygon at an E3 event last night, Rare said GoldenEye's absence transcended licensing complications, instead having more to do with which titles the company considers pure Rare games.

"We looked at 120 games in our back catalog, put them all up on a big whiteboard, and we sort of started grading them, right?" said Rare new technology development lead Nick Burton. "When you've got so many games, there are going to be certain [factors] like who owns what," he admitted, "but when you've got that many, you choose the ones that fit the best."

According to Rare, worlds and characters the studio created themselves were a priority when whittling down the Rare Replay catalog. That ruled out GoldenEye, said studio operations director Drew Quakenbush.

"One of the main selection points was: Are these characters and worlds that Rare made independently, as Rare Studios? That was kind of the first criteria," Quakenbush said. "Then we asked: Were they fun, how well have they aged, etc. We wanted to bring in a broad range of games: popular games that would hit that nostalgic beat that everyone likes."

"Going back to the criteria of 'Rare characters, Rare worlds,' GoldenEye doesn't really fit in that boundary."

Asked whether avoiding licensing battles factored into their choices, Rare mostly deflected.

"I don't think it was about 'battles' so much; more like, 'Let's do Perfect Dark! PD is such a great game,’" Burton said.

Quakenbush agreed.

"It wasn't necessarily licensing. Going back to the criteria — 'is it Rare characters, is it Rare worlds?' — GoldenEye doesn't really fit tightly in with that particular boundary that we put on there," he said. "I feel that we got a great catalog to choose from."

Rare Replay comes out Aug. 4 exclusively on Xbox One for $29.99. For a full list of all 30 titles available in the collection, see our story on the game's announcement at Microsoft's E3 2015 press conference.

Rare E3: Montage of Rare's collection