Microsoft buying Activision Blizzard for almost $70 billion wasn’t on our Bingo card for 2022, but now that it’s official there’s much to mull over. What does it mean for the current labor dispute at Activision? How will the ongoing Activision Blizzard sexual harassment lawsuit play out? What will Xbox head Phil Spencer do with controversial CEO Bobby Kotick? What does this mean for current, future, and lapsed games under the gigantic Activision Blizzard umbrella?
We know that Activision Blizzard games will not uniformly become Xbox exclusives, but it’s impossible to know what such a major acquisition means for the future of so many franchises. With the power of Xbox Game Pass and its ability to inject new life into iconic series, it’s not out of the question that we may see Microsoft reach into the impressive Activision/Blizzard vault and pull out some classic games.
In an interview with Venture Beat (opens in new tab), Kotick expressed similar sentiments, saying, “You look at all the opportunities that we get with a company like Microsoft. I’ll give you one great example. Phil and I started riffing on things for the future. I’ll give you three that are really compelling. I wanted to make a new Guitar Hero for a while, but I don’t want to add teams to do manufacturing and supply chain and QA for manufacturing. And the chip shortages are enormous. We didn’t really have the ability to do that. I had a really cool vision for what the next Guitar Hero would be, and realized we don’t have the resources to do that.”
Here are 10 Activision Blizzard franchises we wouldn’t mind seeing again.
Last game: Prototype 2 (2012)
You can never have enough open-world action adventure games, especially now that the power of current-gen consoles means bigger worlds that look better than ever. The Prototype series follows the story of shapeshifting amnesiacs trying to stop an outbreak that turns people into violent monsters – but it’s the sandbox-style freedom to roam Manhattan that really made it interesting. Prototype 2 changed protagonists but tied the two characters together brilliantly, and a Prototype 3 can do the same thing – but hopefully with a much more diverse main character.
2. Gabriel Knight
Last game: Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers 20th Anniversary Edition (2014)
With all due respect to George Stobbart and Guy Threepwood, I’ve always preferred Gabriel Knight. Granted, much of my point-and-click adventure protagonist preference is tied to nostalgia – I threw myself mouse-first into the MS-DOS version of Sins of the Fathers at launch in late 1993 – but pursuing the Voodoo Murders simply captured the imagination of seven-year-old me way more than the Knights Templar; and I was probably too young to fully-appreciate Monkey Island’s charm a few years prior. In the age of reboots, I’d definitely “PICKUP” a reimagining of Gabriel’s haphazard Columbo-esque trials, beyond the reskin it received in 2014.
Last game: Tenchu: Shadow Assassins (2009)
Thief: The Dark Project, Metal Gear Solid, and Tenchu: Stealth Assassins were the holy trinity of ’90s stealth games that totally changed what I thought I knew about video games. Hiding bodies, stalking in shadows, opting for pacifism, and, you know, being an actual bloody ninja – early Tenchu had everything I didn’t know I wanted, nor thought possible, while gripping a PSOne controller sat opposite a flickering CRT combination telly and VHS player. Perhaps the best ninja-inspired game to land in recent years is FromSoftware’s Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, which was, rather oddly, published by Activision. FromSoft still owns the rights to Sekiro, but a reimagined Tenchu drawing inspiration from the 2019 action-ninja ’em up would suit me just fine.
4. True Crime
Last game: True Crime: New York City (2005)
The first of two open-world crime simulators released between 2003 and 2005, True Crime: Streets of LA landed the year after Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and the year before Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. As such, Luxoflux and Activision’s sandbox sim that told its tale through the eyes of law enforcement was written off by many as a GTA clone, despite being one of the most ambitious games to challenge Rockstar’s dominance of the genre – with a slew of neat features that included limb targeting, slow-motion kills and car chases, and to-scale, so-called “GPS-accurate” open-world recreations of parts of Los Angeles and latterly New York City. A third game, True Crime: Hong Kong, was canned in 2011, but with enduring GTA-challenger Saints Row now being rebooted, now feels like a good time to revisit the streets.
5. Guitar Hero
Last game: Guitar Hero Live (2015)
When it comes to rhythm games, nothing quite beats the rush of nailing a track in Guitar Hero. With the signature guitar controller in your hands, hitting the colored buttons in time made it feel like you really were a bonafide musician who could put on one hell of a performance. Since the release of the first game back in 2005, there have been many sequels and off-shoots, with Guitar Hero Live seeing out the series. I’m more than ready to see the series make an updated comeback that doesn’t stray too far away from the game that started it all.
Last game: Blur (2010)
Remember Blur? It might not have been massively successful back in the day, but its distinct offering of arcade-style racing would be fun to revisit in a shiny reboot. With a host of different power-ups like nitro-fueled boosts and offensive and defensive buffs, Blur was all about taking out your opponents and taking first place on the underground racing scene. There was even word at one point that a sequel was in the works before developer Bizarre Creations ultimately shut down. While there’s a lot of racing adventures out there, it would be interesting to see just how a Blur reboot would shape up like if it ever did get a second chance to hit the roads.
Last game: Starcraft Remastered (2017)
The RTS genre really took off in the late ’90s, and the original Starcraft established a lasting legacy as one of the best examples. Letting you carry out your own galactic war in a sci-fi world with different alien species, it really puts your tactics to the test as you build up your own base and manage your resources to best the opposing alien teams. With a robust single-player campaign and multiplayer support, it even spawned a fantastic sequel in StarCraft 2, as well as a remaster in 2017. If there was ever an RTS I would love to see get a true revival, it’s StarCraft.
8. Spyro the Dragon
Last game: Spyro Reignited Trilogy (2018)
If the recent success of Psychonauts 2 and Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart tell us anything, it’s that the community is still hungry for platformers. The open-ended 3D platforming of the Spyro games would be a lovely world to revisit, and the beautifully vibrant colors would certainly wow us on current-gen consoles. Rumors of a Spyro 4 game have been swirling since the remastered trilogy was released in 2018, with fans hoping a new game would pick up where the original PlayStation trilogy left off back in 2000. As a Spyro fan, I’d love to jump back into the Spyro story on a shiny new console, and I’m sure many others would agree.
9. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater
Last game: Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1 + 2 (2020)
The future of the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater franchise has been unclear since the moment the remaster of the first two games dropped back in 2020. Some believed a remaster of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 would be next on the list, but when developer Vicarious Vision was moved over to work solely on Blizzard games in January 2021, it certainly seemed like future THPS games were out of the question. Then, the drummer for the band CKY, which has a song in THPS 3, mentioned during a podcast chat about Tony Hawk Pro Skater that the band was included in “the new one coming out” as well. We’d love to see a studio dedicated to giving us more skateboarding games that combine physics and fun, so we’ll be keeping an eye out for sure.
10. Laura Bow Mysteries
Last game: The Dagger of Amon Ra (1992)
A true throwback, the Laura Bow Mysteries could do with a modern reboot. The adventure series follows a Tulane graduate and budding detective known as Laura Bow in the 1920s. It was one of the first adventure games that made its characters the centerpiece, rather than puzzles, tasking players with unearthing important details about its characters in order to help solve murders. The late ’80s and early ’90s games were point and click, but this could easily be turned into an exciting action-adventure title ala Uncharted – or it could get the Disco Elysium treatment and go full-blown RPG. More Laura Bow in the future, please.
Microsoft Activision deal isn’t meant to “pull communities away” from PlayStation, Phil Spencer says