After much back-and-forth and regulator-pleasing concessions, Microsoft has finalized their acquisition of Activision Blizzard in the staggering $68.7 billion deal. The merger already looks to be setting up a strong 2024 for Microsoft’s Game Pass due to a slew of high-profile Activision titles that will saturate the subscription service in the very near future. However, that particular list of impending Game Pass titles isn’t as exciting as the idea of the countless dormant IPs that will now be housed under Xbox.
Xbox boss Phil Spencer has already expressed his support for theoretical revivals from Activision’s back catalogue. In an official interview hosted on the Xbox YouTube channel, Spencer made it clear that “If teams want to go back and revisit some of the things we have, and do a full focus on it, I’m gonna be all in.” The Xbox head did follow-up that statement with the condition that any such IP use would utilize the company’s “full ability” and would not be for the purpose of a quick cash grab.
With that in mind, we have compiled a list of long defunct Activision games that deserve another shot in the modern era, elevated by the power of current gen hardware.
Long before Red Dead Redemption (but not before Red Dead Revolver), Activision published a game simply titled Gun. While not the most creative name, Gun was the go-to Western third-person action game for many before Rockstar leveraged the power of John Marston in Red Dead Redemption. Sadly, Gun fell into obscurity, and it likely doesn’t help that its developer Neversoft shut down. That doesn’t mean it should be forgotten though.
Gun starred a protagonist with Apache origins whose life went in the gunslinging direction after being adopted. The player was able to wield a wide array of Western weaponry across an open world as they sought out answers, occasionally dabbling in some first-person quickdraw gameplay. Xbox may be hesitant to enter the market opposite of Rockstar, especially with the emotionally-charged Red Dead Redemption 2 still discussed regularly five years after its release, but this industry is big enough for the both of ’em. There’s certainly room for a more action-oriented Western game to enter the market, although I imagine Microsoft may not want the whole scalping mechanic to make a return.
This one is kind of a gimme. Current Activision CEO Bobby Kotick has already teased the “re-emergence of Guitar Hero,” but I’m putting it on this list anyways. The days of Rock Band and Guitar Hero may be drifting further into the past, but the music rhythm genre doesn’t need to remain there. In fact, we’ve seen a small revival in the VR space thanks to games like Beat Saber.
Now is the perfect time to get the band back together, as it were. A new Guitar Hero should return to its rockshow roots and abandon the full-motion video focus of the short-lived Live installment. Personally, I feel a Guitar Hero revival should find a way to make minor tweaks to the guitar peripherals of the original games rather than overhaul the buttons completely. But that may simply be the nostalgia of those Guitar Hero 3 days talking, as it would take much less effort to get back to shredding through a whole new playlist on Expert.
Prototype was a power fantasy that took an M-rated approach to the mayhem present in Hulk: Ultimate Destruction. Sure, amnesic protagonist Alex Mercer wasn’t much to bond with, but his savage abilities made up for his lack of personality depth. Players took to Manhattan wherein they were empowered to unleash all sorts of shape-shifting hell upon Blackwatch military units and anyone else unfortunate enough to cross Mercer’s path.
Xbox could truly elevate the open-world experience with current gen platforms backing the speedy traversal and bloody combat. The company’s attempt at reviving Crackdown may not have ultimately worked out, but the lessons learned in regards to crafting a super-powered playground would (hopefully) transition to the return of Prototype.
This entry is really a personal plea. Recent years have seen the reappearance of everyone’s favorite orange marsupial Crash Bandicoot, but where’s the love for our favorite purple dragon? Surely the positive reception of the Reignited Trilogy from critics and players alike should have spurred Activision to push forward with the IP as they did with a fourth entry in Crash‘s lineup.
Spyro, Sparx and the gang deserve another outing. There’s plenty of platforming fun to be had in a theoretical comeback, whether Xbox were to stick to the light-hearted tones of the PS1 originals or the more mature leanings of the Legend of Spyro series. My vote is for the original incarnation of Spyro, although I’d settle for just about any form of this childhood gaming mascot (except Skylanders).
The PS3/Xbox 360 era was rife with first-person shooters, which meant it wasn’t easy to stand out in the ever-growing crowd. TimeShift managed to make an impact, despite its storytelling missteps. Players were given the power to manipulate time. That core ability allowed for slowing, stopping and outright rewinding time. It made for brutally entertaining encounters as these powers were leveraged to leave enemies helpless to the player’s mobility and re-dos.
Quantum Break may not have been Microsoft’s major hit as desired, but there’s no denying that the time-based gameplay offered up a great time. And I believe there’s still plenty of demand for those experiences. A modern TimeShift could be unshackled thanks to the current-day horsepower backing games, giving its resurgence two generations of hardware advancements to play with in regards to making the on-screen time powers truly pop.
Here’s an entry that’s sure to cause a certain group pain. True Crime may not have ever achieved GTA‘s status, but it was a hell of a lot of fun all the same. Having players’ actions conveyed in a good cop/bad cop meter made for an enticing prospect, as it allowed players to either form a by-the-books officer or a hard-boiled cop who doesn’t play by the rules.
We were given a taste of a modern day True Crime game in the form of Sleeping Dogs, which started its life as a new True Crime installment, but it seems Square Enix has no desire to capitalize on the IP. That leaves a fairly big window for Xbox to come in and resurrect the action-packed law enforcement saga, brimming with all the moral ambiguity, corruption and high-speed chases one could ask for.