Even with the UK’s CMA decision, the Microsoft acquisition of Activision Blizzard seems to still be on the table. Microsoft is currently appealing the decision in hopes that it can get approved, and if it does then it will be one step closer to finalizing the deal. This would put the entirety of Activision Blizzard under Microsoft’s control and would give Xbox access to a plethora of unused franchises.
Since Activision Blizzard is one of the biggest video game publishers, it has control over many different iconic franchises. However, there are many franchises that have been left to gather dust over the years for various reasons. Sometimes the newest titles did not make an impact, the franchise only existed to capitalize on a trend, or Activision just chose to let it sit in favor of other experiences. Whatever the case may be, many of these franchises could see new life through Xbox Game Studios.
Guitar Hero was once one of the biggest names in music rhythm games, but it seems to have vanished from the public eye. It started in 2005 through a partnership between RedOctane and Harmonix. The thrilling music and guitar-shaped controller helped make this title extremely successful, and it would go on to spawn an entire franchise. After two successful titles, RedOctane would get acquired by Activision, and the Guitar Hero franchise became an Activision franchise.
Activision ended up handing Neversoft the reins to Guitar Hero, and it seemed to pay off immensely. Guitar Hero 3: Legend of Rock became a massive financial success, and allegedly was one of the first video games to reach over $1 billion in sales. However, things quickly changed as the music game genre became oversaturated, and the controllers proved expensive. The entire genre came to a screeching halt, and the last Guitar Hero game would hit store shelves in 2015. While it may never reach the heights of the genre’s early days, a series as iconic as Guitar Hero deserves to live on in some fashion.
Prototype was an action-adventure series from Radical Entertainment that made players feel like they were a superpowered mutant. It put players in control of an amnesiac shapeshifter named Alex Mercer who had to stop a virus outbreak in Manhattan. Players had incredible powers at their disposal, the world was filled with things to do, and the mature story kept them engaged. It ended up being a success for the studio but would only get one sequel.
Prototype 2 launched three years later, but it failed to make the impact its predecessor did. Players took control of U.S. Marine Sergeant James Heller as he hunted down Alex Mercer. They had a whole new set of powers to play with, a revised world to explore, and a new unique story to experience. While its reviews and sales were strong initially, it failed to find an audience and Radical Entertainment was reduced to a supporting role. However, with the rise of superhero media, it seems like the perfect time for Microsoft to revive this franchise.
Skylanders practically created the toys-to-life game genre back in 2011, but there does not seem to be a place for it nowadays. It was a massive series of games that kicked-off with the unique Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure. Players were whisked away on a journey to a brand-new world besieged by the Dark Portal Master Kaos. He had shrunk every single Skylander down to toys and sent them to Earth, and it was up to the player to get them back to their world. It received generally positive reviews at launch and would go on to become a very successful series for Activision.
Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure would spawn multiple sequels that expanded the roster of Skylanders and introduced new gimmicks every time. While the quality stayed relatively consistent, the toys-to-life trend became awfully expensive. Not only would players have to buy every single new Skylanders game, but they also had to buy numerous toys if they wanted to experience everything the games had to offer. This would ultimately kill the genre, but a version of Skylanders could still exist. If Microsoft removed the toys-to-life aspect and just crafted a new Skylanders platformer, it could have a hit on its hands.
Spyro the Dragon
Spyro may have featured prominently in Skylanders, but he has also been the star of his own series since 1998. Originally, Spyro the Dragon was a PlayStation staple created by Insomniac Games, but it would be handed off to other developers after the release of Spyro: Year of the Dragon. After multiple platformers starring the purple dragon, Activision would end up acquiring the rights to the franchise in 2008.
Activision has not really done much with Spyro the Dragon since it acquired it. The publisher put him as the mascot of the Skylanders franchise and ended up releasing the Spyro Reignited Trilogy in 2018. While it was great to revisit these classic platformers, fans of the purple dragon also want something more. If Activision Blizzard does not explore this character further, then perhaps Microsoft should.
StarCraft was once one of Blizzard Entertainment’s largest franchises, but it seems to have forgotten about it. This sci-fi series first started in 1998 with StarCraft, and it was extremely successful at the time. It would become the best-selling PC game of that year and would garner some strong reviews. Blizzard ended up expanding it even further with various DLC packs, and even released some tie-in novels. It seemed like the studio had a massive hit on its hands, but it did not release the sequel until 2010.
2010’s StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty took everything good about the first game and did it better. It was met with critical acclaim and became one of the fastest-selling strategy games of all time. Blizzard would once again expand it with DLC, but it has not really done anything with it since 2016 while the last piece of major StarCraft content came with StarCraft: Remastered in 2017. Outside esports, it seems like Activision Blizzard has no plans for more StarCraft titles, but hopefully Microsoft does.
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