Of the many possibilities that Microsoft buying Activision Blizzard might enable, only one seems really clear: that Microsoft will put Actiblizz games on Game Pass. Beyond that, it’s all mights and maybes. Here’s another maybe: Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer says they’re hoping to dig into Actiblizz’s “franchises that I love from my childhood,” raising the likes of Hexen and King’s Quest. What better use for $69 billion than wallowing in nostalgia?
“I was looking at the IP list, I mean, let’s go!” Spencer told the Washington Post in an interview. “King’s Quest, Guitar Hero, …I should know this but I think they got Hexen.”
Sure, they probably got Hexen one way or another. Microsoft will soon own Hexen developers Raven Software when they buy Activision Blizzard, and already own Hexen publishers Id Software thanks to buying Zenimax and Bethesda. The WP say Spencer told them the Xbox team plan to talk with developers about working on a variety of old games Actiblizz own.
“We’re hoping that we’ll be able to work with them when the deal closes to make sure we have resources to work on franchises that I love from my childhood, and that the teams really want to get,” Spencer said. “I’m looking forward to these conversations. I really think it’s about adding resources and increasing capability.”
One business fanfic story being written by many this week is that Microsoft will free studios from Activision Blizzard’s cruel regime. A new golden age, saved from endless annual sequels! Activision were villains and Microsoft are saviours. I’m no fan of how Actiblizz do business but I’m wary of what Microsoft’s buyout means, even aside from the horrors of the consolidation of the video games industry.
“Surplus developers are more likely to shuffled into the big blockbuster mines over the ideas lab, because Microsoft will probably continue to make a Call Of Duty game every year until the heat death of the universe,” Alice Bee warned in considering implications of the acquisition. I don’t see Phil Spencer mining his childhood as any better than that.
The past happened, and that’s fine. It’s okay for things to happen, end, then be neither revived nor resumed. For a medium only a few decades old to be so into nostalgia and recycling is miserable. You can still play those old games now. And hell, even Activision hadn’t forgotten King’s Quest; the adventure game series was rebooted episodically in 2015.
Of course, this is only business fanfic of my own. But my business fanfic is RIPPED FROM THE HEADLINES, so I guess it’s true crime? Who knows. It’ll be a few years yet before we see what happens for Activision Blizzard and all the other games companies Microsoft have bought in the past few years.