The game just had its “Disney buys Fox” moment. Microsoft has announced that it will spend nearly $69 billion to acquire Activision Blizzard, one of the video game industry’s largest third-party publishers. Or at least it was. Microsoft surprised us two years ago by acquiring Bethesda, but it turns out that was just a warm-up for Xbox’s biggest expansion yet.
The acquisition raises many important questions that go beyond video games. Will it trigger antitrust lawsuits? What will happen to the workers of Activision and their burgeoning organizing efforts? Will Microsoft do anything to clean up Activision’s notoriously toxic culture that has dominated headlines for the past few months? What will happen to CEO Bobby Kotick after the transition? And why do so many experts think this is all about the Metaverse?
Obviously, Microsoft buying Activision Blizzard will have ramifications for the games themselves. Call of Duty remains one of the biggest franchises in gaming on its own, and we have to imagine that the special partnership between PlayStation and CoD will soon come to an end. Will Sony make a game for Bungie? The company barely managed to avoid being ripped off by Microsoft by ending its partnership with Activision after Destiny 2. Microsoft also highlighted some of the other huge and exclusive properties it scooped up in this blow. State including World of Warcraft, StarCraft, Overwatch, Diablo and Candy Crush saga.
Beyond those big names, however, Activision also has a treasure trove of overlooked classics. On top of all the alleged harassment, one of our biggest issues with the company is its cruel willingness to leave awesome franchises dormant just because they aren’t consistent megahits. This could change with Microsoft in charge. Whether it’s a new game, old games brought to Game Pass, or an appearance in a Microsoft Super Smash Bros. clone, here are 10 classic Activision games we’d love to see return to Xbox.
1. Crash Bandicoot
When Crash Bandicoot debuted, he was Sony’s mascot Mario from PlayStation. Original Crash developer Naughty Dog is still the crown jewel of the PlayStation studio. So Microsoft now owning this character just has a delicious level of irony. Bringing back the semi-connected Skylanders toy series (featuring former Sony mascot Spyro the Dragon and featuring Crash as a guest star) would also help Xbox reach younger gamers.
2. Hero DJ
The plastic instrument boom of the 2000s boomed and burned like few other genres in gaming history. Guitar Hero took on the rhythm game concepts pioneered by Parappa the Rapper and Dance Dance Revolution, and the offered to the general public. The original Harmonix developers are now owned by Epic, but Activision retains the Hero brand. Best of the bunch was the eclectic, genre-hopping, turntable-twisting, mash-up masterpiece known as DJ Hero. It was so good that Daft Punk lent their robot likenesses to the game.
3. Geometry Wars
The first Geometry Wars was a groundbreaking Xbox 360 launch title. Bizarre Creations has combined an addictive, top-down arcade shooter with stunning HD visuals. It proved that small games could have a big impact on new consoles. Geometry Wars returning to Xbox would be a throwback to rival Halo Infinite. And while we’re talking about Bizarre Creations, can we get a new Blur racing game?
Raven Software made a name for itself as one of the most prolific developers of the 1990s era of first-person shooters. Games like Heretic and Hexen gave Doom and Quake a run for their money. . Eventually, Raven became another Call of Duty support studio, but Microsoft would be wise to respect that history. If nothing else, Raven and Id being under the same roof must be a real trip for PC gamers of a certain age.
Activision essentially invented the concept of “third party” by challenging Atari’s stranglehold on the 2600. The original Pitfall proved that other companies could make experiences even better than the ones that made the hardware. Forget Uncharted and Tomb Raider, it’s time for Pitfall Harry, the game’s first nimble treasure hunter, to claim his prize.
Browse Activision’s back catalog and you’ll see plenty of licensed games. Microsoft would have to make new deals if it wanted to bring back Activision’s published Marvel superhero games. But in 2010, Radical Entertainment used what it learned from making Hulk games to deliver an original adventure that lets you unleash superpowered mayhem in an open world. With Crackdown’s name fairly tarnished and Sony’s Infamous on hiatus, it’s now time for Prototype to reach its endgame.
7. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
Dark Souls and Elden Ring are cross-platform, but between Bloodborne and the Demon’s Souls Remake, PlayStation is the best platform for fans of FromSoftware’s distinct brand of punishment. At the time, Activision seemed like an odd choice for the ninja-tastic version of Sekiro on the Miyazaki formula, and we’re not sure who owns what, but Microsoft would be foolish not to continue its own exclusive Souls franchise.
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8. The Lost Vikings
Last year’s Blizzard Arcade collection brought a handful of retro hits to modern consoles, including Blackthorne, The Lost Vikings, and Rock N Roll Racing. It reminded us that Blizzard can make games in addition to Warcraft and Warcraft-themed card games. Activision has smothered what was once one of the most exciting and creative PC game studios around. Let’s bring back that magic and the side-scrolling, time-jumping Vikings.
9. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater
After years of running the skateboard simulation into the ground, Activision has put Tony Hawk games back on the rise with the recent and remarkable remake of Pro Skater 1 + 2. All Microsoft needs to do is keep this good thing going with new levels, new games, and a new understanding that not everything has to be an annual release.
10. Transformers: War for Cybertron
Of all the horrible 1980s toy cartoons, Transformers is my favorite, if only because “robots that turn into cars” is a cool enough concept to overcome even the most cynical marketing. High Moon Studios Transformers: War for Cybertron is perhaps my favorite release of the material. On-command vehicle transformation adds fun possibilities to third-person gunfights, while the clockwork planet Cybertron itself is a fascinating and doomed campaign setting. Activision doesn’t own Transformers, so Microsoft should strike a new licensing deal, but those games are too underrated to fall into digital oblivion. At the very least, put Optimus Prime in Warzone.
For more on Microsoft games, check out our list of the best Xbox Series X and Series S games, our Halo games ranking, and our favorite memories from Xbox’s last 20 years.
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