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Xbox wants to bring back older Activision games like Hexen and Skylanders

Xbox wants to bring back older Activision games like Hexen and Skylanders
Spencer says revivals are up to developers, but Microsoft still gets the final say (Picture: Microsoft)

Phil Spencer talks up the massive amount of franchises Microsoft owns and how it’s important to treat them with respect.

Ever since Microsoft first announced it was going to buy Activision Blizzard , Xbox boss Phil Spencer has been hinting at bringing back ancient first person shooter Hexen. Now that the deal has finally gone through , bringing back old Activision franchises is, surprisingly, the first thing him and CEO Bobby Kotick have been talking about.

Appearing on the official Xbox podcast, where he also reiterated Microsoft’s Call Of Duty plans , Spencer talked about the many franchises Microsoft now owns, following its buyouts of Bethesda and Activision Blizzard.

‘The amount of franchises that we now have in our portfolio is kind of inspiring, it’s daunting. I feel that we have to be a great custodian for the content that we touch. These are memories from people on different platforms, different decades,’ said Spencer.

‘I want to make sure that when we’re going back and visiting something, that we do it with our complete ability, a motivated team that wants to go work on something and make a difference, not just create something for financial gain, or create something for a PR announcement and not deliver on the product.’

This is the latest attempt by Spencer to paint Xbox as being almost non-profit, refusing to make anything about Call Of Duty exclusive and now claiming that making money is not the primary goal of the company.

Apart from the financial aspects of the situation it’s unclear what games Spencer and Kotick are talking about, as despite its size Activision has a far smaller pool of classic franchises than other publishers of a similar size – unless you start going back to the early 8-bit era.

Hexen, Guitar Hero and Skylanders are the only games that have been hinted at by name, but Spencer claims that the former at least is just his wishful thinking. ‘I tease about things like Hexen just because I remember playing it as a kid. I have no plan for that,’ he said.

‘But I do think when you look across all of the franchises that are part of our teams, there’s an opportunity for us to go back, even if it’s just to recognise the moment and what those things meant in gaming’s history, and do something right with it, make it available to people through Game Pass. I think there’s an opportunity – there’s not a plan for that – but there’s an opportunity,’ he added.

Spencer added that he’d ‘love to see more ideas’ like the Quake 2 remaster , although a new Quake from Wolfenstein makers MachineGames was rumoured even before the Microsoft takeover.

It’s also worth noting that Spencer does not comment on whether such revivals would be Xbox exclusive or multiplatform. You could argue his comments on treating older IPs with respect means ensuring they’re made widely available like Call Of Duty but that’s a very generous read.

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Apart from Hexen, Guitar Hero, and Skylanders it’s difficult to know what other franchises Spencer could be thinking of, as despite what he implies Activision owns few titles with any cachet in the modern era.

The original incarnation of Activision was a key publisher in the Atari VCS era, with games like Pitfall! and River Raid, as well as text adventure Zork. With other games, such as Battle Zone, MechWarrior, and Interstate ’76 it’s unclear whether they still own the licence (they certainly don’t for Battle Zone), which also prevents them from making more Transformers games.

It’s the quality of the game that matters, not whether it’s part of a long forgotten franchise, but the idea that Activision is sitting on a treasure trove of underutilised IP is an optimistic reading of the situation.

Spyro Reignited Trilogy- are the odds of a new Spyro or Crash any better under Microsoft? (Picture: Activision)

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