In an interview with Phil Spencer, Windows Central inquired about the future of Activision-Blizzard games, referencing previous hints from press tours and regulatory comments. The questions revolved around the potential revival of dormant franchises like Guitar Hero, Skylanders, StarCraft, and others.
The interview aimed to find out if the hints were just teases or if there’s a real chance of these games coming back. It also explored why Xbox seems more open to bringing back “niche” games like Age of Empires, Killer Instinct, and maybe StarCraft, in contrast to Activision-Blizzard. Phil Spencer provided insights into Xbox’s approach in this area. Microsoft annually invests over a billion dollars in Game Pass, a financially successful service supporting games of all sizes and types. Their strategy aims to keep players engaged on the platform, playing a variety of games.
The Microsoft Gaming CEO mentioned that he wasn’t present at Activision during certain decision-making moments, but he can share insights. This connects to the language used in the early days of Game Pass.
“When you look at things we’ve done over the past 12 months. If you look at things like Pentiment, Hi-Fi Rush, long-term investment in games like Grounded, all of these games have had real success for us in our subscription and in our platform. The diversity of business models allows us to invest in different kinds of content and still have financial success with that content. When we look at the back catalog of games from Bethesda, we get really excited. We look at the back catalog from Activision and Blizzard, we get really excited about the things we can do. It’s early days, so we need to be talking to that teams that are fully staffed and working on things already. It’s not like ‘hey, there’s a spare team’ that you can just go and put on something. You need to make sure those teams have passion for what they want to go work on. I will say that the diversity in business models that we have in Microsoft Gaming really lets us supports different kinds of games, different sizes of games, and not every game we build has to be the kind of game that takes up all of your time.”
Bringing More Blizzard games to Xbox Consoles
Windows Central asked about the possibility of World of Warcraft, StarCraft, or Heroes of the Storm coming to Xbox consoles. I questioned how Microsoft plans to fulfill fans’ wishes for these older games while ensuring that teams at Activision, Bethesda, or Blizzard can continue working on projects they are currently passionate about.
“Thinking about Age of Empires, we’re on the 10th anniversary edition of Killer Instinct, which is another nice example to think about. There has to be passion in the team behind the projects. That doesn’t mean that the team has to be the original team, every time. I’m not one — and maybe this is just my approach — I’m not one to come in and take a franchise from a team and remove them from the discussion or development process on how something new gets built. I think the original creators, the culture — frankly, some of the lessons we’ve learned from past experiences here are very important. You’ve seen from our history that we haven’t touched every franchise that people would love us to touch — Banjo fans, I hear you. But it is true that, when we find the right team, and the right opportunity, I love going back to revisit stories and characters that we’ve seen previously.
Phil Spencer wants to work with Blizzard to find their passion for game franchises, highlighting Blizzard’s excitement for revival. He assures fans that teases aren’t meant to mislead, and there’s usually substance behind them, even if not immediately apparent:
“In the case of Blizzard games specifically, really what I’d want to do is work with Blizzard’s leadership to see where they have passion. I say all this, but I’m not at all suggesting that Blizzard doesn’t have passion for reviving franchises too, I know that from my visits to the team. They absolutely have the passion in this area. There’s a lot of excitement for possibilities that we can all do together. But also, I want our fans and customers to know that I don’t bring up games just to tease to no end … if people have watched how we’ve teased things in the past. There’s usually some kind of reconciliation of those hints later on … I’m not one to try and lead people on. It might not happen on the timeline that people would love, but usually when I tease, there’s something there.”