Popular video game developer Nightdive Studios have revealed that they almost got Goldeneye 007 rereleased.
Nightdive CEO Stephen Kick made this revelation on Twitter, and in the same post congratulate Rare for doing the rerelease themselves.
Founded in 2012, Nightdive specializes in remastering video games from before the 5th generation of video game consoles. Stephen Kick, a former Sony Online Entertainment employee, started the company initially solely to rerelease System Shock 2, a personal favorite game of his that he found was no longer playable on modern hardware.
Is Nightdive the James Bond of video game companies? Maybe not, but they certainly have an interesting set of skills. Nightdive goes through the same process for all their retro FPS game rereleases. It all starts with tracking down the current owner or holding company for the property in question and then trying to acquire or license said property. If they get the go-ahead, the company then tries to find the original source code, or as close to it as possible, and updates it with newer game engines, for compatibility with current systems. Since 2015, the company has been using the KEX Engine, a customized game engine developed to rerelease Turok 2. KEX’s creator, Sam Villareal, is now the company’s lead engine developer.
While Nightdive has not shared more information on this potential Goldeneye 007 rerelease under their watch, the story of one of their other failed projects may help shed light on why it didn’t follow through. The company disclosed its efforts to rerelease The Operative: No One Lives Forever, a comedy spy-themed FPS in the same vein as James Bond. The rights to this game and franchise were split between Activision, 20th Century Fox, and Warner Bros, and the company could not convince the three to work with them on a release.
James Bond has had a prodigious history in video games itself. For a significant period of time, thanks to games like GoldenEye 007, Bond’s games were as high-profile releases as Medal of Honor and Call of Duty. Goldeneye 007 itself was a groundbreaking title, making the case that first-person shooters could be played on video game consoles. It also pioneered in terms of multiplayer modes for console games and is generally regarded as one of the best-licensed games ever made. While the rights to Bond were passed around between Nintendo, Electronic Arts, Activision, MGM Interactive, and now Hitman developer IO Interactive, the franchise itself remains the shared property of MGM and Danjaq LLC.
If Nightdive had failed to acquire the Goldeneye 007 license from MGM and Danjaq, it’s likely that Microsoft and/or Nintendo were more convincing in pitching the project to the film companies. Still, it would have been interesting to have seen Nightdive’s take on the project. While Rare Replay owners may already know that Rare makes fine recreations of their classic games, that mostly update the graphics but retain the original gameplay elements, Nightdive goes a step further and remasters their classic games, to match modern sensibilities. If you’ve played the newer versions of Powerslave, Doom 64, Shadow Man, Quake, or the Turok games, those were all made by Nightdive.
GoldenEye 007 was released in 1997 for the Nintendo 64. The game will be rereleased on Nintendo Switch as part of the Switch Online subscription during September 2022. There is also an upcoming port on Xbox One, that will be free to owners of Rare Replay, and will of course also be compatible with Xbox Series X/S consoles.