Former Rare president Joel Hochberg has passed away

Joel Hochberg was 87 years old at his time of death and has presided over Rare's operations leading up to its acquisition by Microsoft in 2002.

Image via Nintendo

Sad news in the gaming industry as it has been confirmed by several sources that former Rare president Joel Hochberg passed away this week at the age of 87. Hochberg was brought into Rare in 1986 to serve as president of its US studio in Miami, Florida and remained in the role until Rare’s sale to Microsoft in 2002.

Hochberg is said to have passed away peacefully on April 18, 2023, as reported by the Miami Herald. His passing was further confirmed by Rare co-founder Tim Stamper, who mourned the loss of Hochberg on his personal Twitter.

“Joel changed the course of history, he bought us our first Nintendo Famicom system on one of his many trips to Japan,” Stamper recalled.

Hochberg is survived by his wife of 61 years, Marcia; children, Eileen and Scott; grandchildren, Bradley and Shayna; brother, Donald (Marilyn), and numerous nieces and nephews.

Tim Stamper's acknowledgement of Joel Hochberg's passing
Rare co-founder Tim Stamper confirmed Joel Hochberg's passing on his personal Twitter this week.
Source: Tim Stamper

Being on deck with Rare in 1986 means that Hochberg was there to grow the relationship between Rare and Nintendo in both company’s breakout eras, with Rare launching successful games on the NES such as Battletoads, Wizards & Warriors, and RC Pro-Am. Rare and Nintendo continued to grow a rich relationship under Hochberg’s guidance on the Rare end, allowing for the creation of the Donkey Kong Country, Banjo-Kazooie, and Killer Instinct series, just to name a few winners. Although Hochberg stepped away from Rare when the company was acquired by Microsoft in 2002, he put his efforts into philanthropic pursuits in education, helping establish the Hochberg Lower and Middle Schools in Florida.

With his passing, the game industry loses another incredible executive who helped pave the way for a lot of the gaming’s best history. Shacknews joins others in wishing well to Hochberg’s family and friends in this time.

Senior News Editor

TJ Denzer is a player and writer with a passion for games that has dominated a lifetime. He found his way to the Shacknews roster in late 2019 and has worked his way to Senior News Editor since. Between news coverage, he also aides notably in livestream projects like the indie game-focused Indie-licious, the Shacknews Stimulus Games, and the Shacknews Dump. You can reach him at and also find him on Twitter @JohnnyChugs.

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