UPDATE: Playtonic Games has taken to Twitter to issue an official statement debunking the rumors. Sadly, while the team would be thrilled to work on a new Banjo-Kazooie game, the studio currently is not working on the project.
Microsoft could be eyeing up the developer of Yooka-Laylee as the future developer of Banjo-Kazooie, if recent industry rumblings are correct. Gamers have long been clamoring for the return of Rare's bear and bird duo, so much so that Nintendo even licensed the Microsoft-owned character to include in Smash Bros. Ultimate. Given that, many have been waiting on some sort of announcement on the franchise's return–all to no avail thus far.
The immediate issue with a Banjo-Kazooie return stems from the lack of available studios under the Xbox Game Studios banner. That's not to say that there aren't a number of high-quality devs capable of doing the dormant series justice, but they all have their own projects on the go. Heck, even Banjo and Kazooie's flagship studio, Rare Ltd., is preoccupied with Sea of Thieves and its next game for Xbox's Project Scarlett. Still, it's possible that Microsoft has figured out a solution if recent rumblings are correct.
If recent industry rumblings are correct, Playtonic Games may have been given the nod to spearhead a brand-new Banj0-Kazooie title. New evidence has been amassed on ResetEra by a user known as Mazi, and it shows a range of smoking guns indicating just such a hypothetical deal. It all started after news broke of Banjo-Kazooie and Yooka-Laylee designer Ed Bryan joining the Playtonic Games team before he then tweeted an image of a Microsoft-branded bag with the caption "Well, I never really had any plans to use this again."
Well, I never really had any plans to use this again. pic.twitter.com/r3wS18vrrR— Ed Bryan (@ItsMingyJongo) November 3, 2019
This was immediately flagged as suspicious by fans, even despite Bryan later trying to calm the crowds by tweeting that he simply needed the bag for his new job. Of course, he wasn't the only one that has been hinting at something bigger. The co-owner, studio and game director at Playtonic Games, Gavin Price, updated his LinkedIn profile to hint at a few new ongoing projects at the company. This post, in particular, is very interesting.
"Yooka-Laylee, Yooka-Laylee & The Impossible Lair, and in the foreseeable future that game #3, #4 and the #5 one too which is the one I always thought would be game #1."
The nod to the fifth unnamed project is very on the nose given that Playtonic Games' first title was a spiritual successor to Banjo-Kazooie called Yooka-Laylee. In that light, Price's comments on LinkedIn seem a lot less veiled. So, if all of this correct, then what could all of this mean for fans? Well, it's possible that Microsoft has acquired Playtonic Games as another pillar of its Xbox Game Studios banner.
Alternatively, Rare and Microsoft may believe that the studio is a better partner for them to relaunch the Banjo-Kazooie series with. It doesn't hurt that a majority of the employees and founders at Playtonic are former Rare staffers that helped work on the original Banjo titles. Really, there is no better fit for the series. Plus, Microsoft isn't opposed to partnering with outside studios to work with Rare properties, as it has already done so with Killer Instinct and is currently collaborating on a new Battletoads.
Notably, Microsoft's big X019 event is set to kick off on November 14th in London, which means that the United Kingdom-based Playtonic and Rare could both show up with news of a new Banjo-Kazooie title. Perhaps that's just wishful thinking, but time will certainly tell if there's indeed fire amongst all of this smoke. Now, here's hoping that the next Banjo-Kazooie will also come to Nintendo Switch if this is all true.