The most significant acquisition in the video game industry's history has happened this past week, if you haven't heard already. Microsoft has purchased the mega-publisher Activision Blizzard for a staggering $68.7 billion.
This news rocked the video game world as it now means Microsoft and Xbox control a massive part of the video game industry and have added mega franchises like Call of Duty, Overwatch, and World of Warcraft to the stable of IPs they own.
However, as Activision Blizzard mainly focused on yearly Call of Duty releases and some future Blizzard IPs like Diablo 4 and Overwatch 2 are coming down the line, there are some IPs Microsoft could bring back to the forefront thanks to the bevy of studios they now own.
Today, we're going to look at 5 of those franchises that Microsoft could bring back and which developer would fit best for each.
We'll start the list with the oldest and most classic Activision franchise, Pitfall. Pitfall is one of gaming's oldest franchises dating back to the Atari 2600 in the early 80s. The franchise will be celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. With the franchise being so old and not having a recent entry in a long time, there's a lot Microsoft could do with it.
Microsoft could turn the series into a pulpy action-adventure game akin to Sony's Uncharted series or the Tomb Raider series. However, that could impede what Microsoft has planned for Machine Games and their upcoming Indiana Jones game.
Moon Studios, the developers of the Ori series, could be handed the series and turn it into an intense and beautiful platformer Metroidvania like the Ori games and make the return of Pitfall something extraordinary. Thus, they could maintain the franchise's platformer roots with a studio they don't necessarily own but have partnered with over the last generation.
Prototype is an underrated series. The series was developed by Radical Entertainment and saw two entries in 2009 and 2012. The Prototype games were open-world action games where your characters had monster-like powers of shapeshifting, consuming people, and enhanced abilities thanks to the Blacklight Virus.
Unfortunately, Activision downsized the studio following soft sales of the second game. It turned it into a support studio for their more notable titles, which you'll see similar cases with the following entries on the list.
Prototype has plenty of potential, and Microsoft could bring it back in various ways under multiple studios. The first that could do a great job would be Tango Gameworks, the developers of The Evil Within, and the upcoming Ghostwire Tokyo. Led by Resident Evil creator Shinji Makami, Tango could delve into the horror elements of Prototype, turn the series into something horrifying and make it their next big franchise.
If Microsoft doesn't want to veer too far from the series, the other developer that comes to mind would be Arkane Studios, the developers behind the Dishonored franchise and the recently released Deathloop. Arkane has plenty of experience with action-based games featuring various “powers.” The studio is also used to making huge levels for players to explore, so a jump to actual open-world game design wouldn't be much of a stretch for Arkane. Both options are completely viable, with exciting ways to take the franchise.
3. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater
The Tony Hawk Pro Skater series has had its ups and downs over the years. Skateboarding and the franchise aren't as big as they were during the late 90s, but that didn't stop the series' recent remake of the first two games from doing well both critically and commercially.
However, following the remake's success, Activision decided to merge developer Vicarious Visions into Blizzard to help with the games being developed there. Next up is the only licensed IP on the list.
With that, it's unknown how Microsoft would proceed with the series. They could reform Vicarious Visions and keep developing games in the franchise. However, there has been turnover as people like Jen Oneal, the former head of the studio, departed Activision Blizzard at the end of last year.
Thus, who else would fit the franchise? The best one that comes to mind would be Playground Games, the developers of Forza Horizon, and the upcoming new Fable. Playground has the experience of creating beautiful worlds. An open-world Tony Hawk game could be exactly what could revitalize the series and bring it back to the forefront in a significant way.
2. Spyro the Dragon
Spyro the Dragon was one of the hit franchises from the original PlayStation era. While the series eventually fell to the side during the early PlayStation 3 era before Spyro became the Skylanders' face, the franchise made a slight comeback a few years ago with The Spyro Reignited Trilogy from Toys for Bob. Unlike the Crash Bandicoot series, which got a new release following the success of its trilogy remake, Spyro was left to the wayside with no new game insight.
Now, under Microsoft, the little purple dragon could see the light of day again. There are two main options for studios that would fit Spyro. The best fit would most likely be if Microsoft could pull Toys for Bob off of being a support studio for Call of Duty and allow them to try their hand at making a new Spyro game after their success making a new Crash Bandicoot game. The other option would be to give the franchise to Rare.
Rare has made many classic 3D platformers, such as Banjo Kazooie and Donkey Kong 64. Spyro would fit perfectly in that mold, and longtime fans of Rare have wanted them to return to the 3D platformer space, thus creating a perfect combination of developer and IP.
1. Crash Bandicoot
There's only one franchise that could be number one here: Crash Bandicoot. Crash Bandicoot is one of the most iconic video game characters. It is the mascot for the original PlayStation, even if its overall popularity has dwindled since its heyday in the late 90s.
The franchise was already getting an outstanding revival following Vicarious Visions' remakes of the original trilogy and Toys for Bob's Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time. However, after Activision decided to move both studios to more of a support role, the fate of Crash Bandicoot was left up in the air.
Now, under the helm of Microsoft, the series has a chance to continue. As for which of Microsoft's studios should be the one to control the future of Crash Bandicoot, like Spyro, there are two main options. Toys for Bob has already proven they can make a competent and well-designed game in the series.
Then, the other option is if Microsoft wants to take the series in a new 3D direction by giving it to Rare to create one of their classic 3D platformers. Thus, Rare would be making Crash their own in a brand new way for the franchise.
This article was produced by Wealth of Geeks
Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock.