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6 Activision Blizzard franchises perfect for an Xbox revival after $68bn deal
Microsoft made headlines this week when it announced a monster $68 billion deal to acquire Activision Blizzard. The deal, which is scheduled to close in 2023, will bring franchises like Call of Duty, Candy Crush, Diablo, Overwatch, and Warcraft under the Xbox umbrella.
Microsoft will clearly get its hands on some big-hitting franchises if the purchase closes as planned (in addition to inheriting a toxic workplace). But there are several older IPs that the Xbox maker could revive.
2010’s Blur might be one of the most under-appreciated games on the list, being a multi-platform arcade racing game developed by iconic (and since shuttered) studio Bizarre Creations. Unfortunately, Blur only sold a reported 31,000 units in its first few days on the market, not helped by fellow arcade racer Split/Second launching in the same month.
We’d love to see a remastered version of the game or a full-blown sequel, as the game’s concept of Mario Kart and Wipeout with real-world cars made for a fun experience. The Xbox Game Pass proposition also means that there isn’t as much pressure to deliver a title that sells millions.
The 1980s and 1990s were filled with point-and-click adventures, and the Gabriel Knight series was one of the best franchises of the lot. The “psycho-thriller” series saw gamers play as the titular character investigating supernatural events. Furthermore, the first game featured voice-overs by the likes of Mark Hamill, Tim Curry, and Leah Remini.
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Gabriel Knight received two sequels as well as a 20th-anniversary remake in 2014. What about a new game though? Series creator Jane Jensen previously said she’d love to do a new game but that it was up to Activision to green-light the project. Hopefully, Microsoft is open to this possibility.
Back when first-person shooters still had the Doom clone moniker, Heretic attempted to differentiate itself with its fantasy approach of magic, crossbows, and other eclectic weapons. It then received a follow-up of sorts, dubbed Hexen, which was indeed published by Activision.
Hexen was followed up by Hexen 2. We’ve already seen Quake, Doom, Shadow Warrior, Wolfenstein, and even Turok get new releases or the remake treatment in recent years, so Hexen seems like a logical next step.
Activision Blizzard also owns the Police Quest IP, which might not be familiar to the younger crowd. Nevertheless, the adventure simulation franchise stood out in the 1980s thanks to its strong focus on following police procedures. Later games would take a more casual approach before the series eventually evolved into the SWAT tactical shooter franchise.
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We’ve since seen various Police Quest titles re-released on GOG, but an all-new entry hasn’t come out yet. In fact, one of the original Police Quest creators launched a failed Kickstarter for a spiritual successor dubbed Precinct. Either way, an all-new entry would give the developer a chance to modernize the franchise while also tapping into contemporary issues.
Perhaps the most beloved franchise on the list, the real-time strategy franchise Starcraft first debuted in 1996, quickly gaining widespread popularity. In fact, the game was a pioneer in Korea, as massive Starcraft tournaments were a regular fixture in the country and gave us a taste of modern esports to come.
Starcraft was followed by the long-awaited sequel Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty in 2010, an expansion in 2016, and a remastered version of the original game in 2017. Unfortunately, the sequel ended active development in 2020 and some developers left to form their own studio. The time seems ripe for a Starcraft 3 then, especially given Microsoft’s solid handling of RTS games.
The True Crime series essentially asks the question “What if you could play GTA as a cop?”. The first game, True Crime: Streets of LA, was an unpolished gem, delivering some cool gameplay features (such as frisking NPCs, arresting perps, and even continuing the story if you fail some missions).
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True Crime: New York City was a rushed mess of a game that was released back in 2005. This would be the last game in the franchise, with a True Crime: Hong Kong game being canceled and a deal seeing Square Enix develop and publish the eventual finished product as Sleeping Dogs.
A remade True Crime game that polishes everything, retains some of those trademark features, but modernizes various mechanics would be interesting to see. But a full-fledged new entry would be neat too, potentially giving Microsoft its own GTA-style property (well, aside from Crackdown).
Are there any other older and/or lesser-known Activision Blizzard franchises you’d like to see revived by Microsoft? Let us know below.