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Bloody hell. I come back from a quick lunch break and the world has gone crazy-town banana pants. Microsoft has purchased Activision Blizzard for an eye-watering $68.7 billion, meaning the likes of Call Of Duty, Overwatch, Diablo, and World Of Warcraft now fall under the Xbox Game Studios umbrella.
This is undoubtedly another huge win for Team Xbox, and a very distressing bit of news for PlayStation. Between this and the Bethesda acquisition of 2020, Microsoft now owns a ridiculous number of juggernaut franchises. At this point, it could probably make a pretty impressive Smash Bros rival. I remember when Microsoft’s biggest mascot was Car, from the Forza games.
Naturally, this latest acquisition throws up many questions. Will Call Of Duty now be an Xbox exclusive franchise? Will Spyro show up as an unlockable skin in Halo Infinite? Will Phil Spencer fire current Activision CEO Bobby Kotick from a cannon into the heart of a dying star, like he deserves?
For now, we just don’t know. But it’s fun to look to the future and speculate, isn’t it? It’s become abundantly clear in recent months that Activision Blizzard as a company is rotten to its core. While the Microsoft buyout is hardly going to change these deep rooted and systemic issues overnight, we can at least hope that it will lead to long-term change for the better. We can start by firing Kotick from that aforementioned cannon.
One of my dearest wishes for Activision under Microsoft’s leadership is that we finally put the annual Call Of Duty releases to bed. For too long, the publishers’ most lucrative franchise has stood in the way of its many talented developers doing anything else.
Toys For Bob, a deeply passionate studio who developed the excellent Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time was folded into the Call Of Duty: Warzone team last year. Rather than give us more bright, colourful and inventive 3D platformers like, I don’t know, SPYRO 4, Activision had them playing a support role for yet another battle royale.
Similarly, Vicarious Visions, who gave us the sublime Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 & 2 - Remastered and smash-hit Crash Bandicoot remakes became just another Blizzard support team. Bad luck if you wanted to see what beloved franchise the team would carefully and expertly revive next.
Then there’s the fact that Raven Software, Infinity Ward, Treyarch, and Sledgehammer Games have all been trapped in an endless cycle of annual Call Of Duty releases for over a decade at this point. And frankly, given the current state of Warzone, Modern Warfare, and Vanguard, it’s clear that the churn is really starting to burn.
Take annual Call Of Duty releases off the board, and you suddenly open a world of possibilities. Activision and Microsoft’s best studios all free to take from an ever-growing roster of beloved IP is a dizzyingly exciting prospect, isn't it?
In the 20 minutes or so since news of the merger broke, the GAMINGbible team has let its imagination run wild. Let Toys For Bob make a new Banjo Kazooie game! See what Rare could do with a brand-new Spyro! Give Treyarch the chance to play in the Halo universe with a new ODST adventure, or - and this is my personal dream pitch - allow Playground Games to finally make Tony Hawk’s Underground 3.
These pitches are very much the stuff of wild fantasy right now and in no way based in reality, but you can see my point. Call Of Duty is the least interesting thing about Microsoft buying Activision, and the best thing we could get out of this acquisition is a horde of developers who no longer have to worry about releasing a new FPS every single year.
Activision has been exploiting, burying, and completely wasting its talent for too long, and I dearly hope Microsoft addresses this going forward. We don’t need a Call Of Duty game every damn year. Lord knows there’s so much more to Activision than shooty shooty bang bang soldiers. Right now, I’m choosing to believe Microsoft knows that too.
And again, I must stress: Bobby Kotick. Cannon. Dying star. Hopefully after that, the rest comes naturally.
Featured Image Credit: Microsoft/Activision
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