- The long-disputed Activision acquittal by Microsoft is at last complete. Now the focus shifts towards the games to expect.
- Across the years, Activision has abandoned multiple fantastic gems over minor inconveniences. These include Heretic/Hexen (disputed IP rights in this case though), Prototype, Blur, and True Crime.
- Now that Xbox owns Activision and is even interested in these, it’s time the underrated titles make a comeback to strengthen Xbox’s library.
The Activision Blizzard acquisition dispute — A deal worth $69 Billion is nothing to scoff at. Until recently, I was wondering if this long-troubled matter will ever conclude. Starting back in January 2022, this has been nothing short of a wild ride full of twists and turns. However, it seems Microsoft has reigned victorious as the Activision Blizzard acquittal by Microsoft is now official.
With that out of the way, let’s look at what this can mean for us gamers. The first thing I’ll say here is that Xbox is in dire need of consistent heavy hitters. It does have good games, but they’re less than an ideal amount. And now with such a tough dispute finally won, the pressure is higher than ever on Xbox to make the best of it and come up with strong projects. So the question is, what title from the Activision IP list will make a good contender?
The Path For Heretic/Hexen Is Now Clear
I’ll start this list with one of my favorite classics, the Heretic/Hexen series. You know the original Doom, yes? Take that and sprinkle some nice magic and impressive inventory mechanics on top and you get this brilliant franchise. It is among the best Doom-like games and the original Heretic also brought the revolutionary “able to look up and down” feature for this genre. When I first tried it, I was positively amazed by how it’s both the same as Doom yet also manages to stay distinct.
So then, you might ask, if it’s so great, why isn’t it back yet? id Software revived Doom in the best way possible, but what about Heretic or Hexen? The series suffers some unfortunate circumstances due to the IP rights. The developer of the series is Raven Software, an Activision subsidiary. While the publisher is id Software, the Doom developer. Now as the two are divided, so are the rights. Activision holds the developing rights while id Software or the parent ZeniMax holds the publishing rights.
Because of this, nothing solid could be done for this IP so far. However, it seems we’re finally in luck. If you’re not aware, let me give you the good news; after acquiring Activision, both the developer and publisher are now Xbox-owned. All the hurdles that might have stopped a modern Heretic or Hexen game are now gone. Since Xbox wants a solid game and fans are demanding a new Heretic, why not make it a reality?
Take a look at the modern Doom reboot and tell me, is it not awesome? Doom Eternal is some of the most fun I’ve had playing an FPS, with its extremely fluid and satisfying mechanics, mobility, and straight-up carnage with modern visuals. Imagine all that with impressive magic abilities that can potentially make the combat variety better and I think it can be a dream project and a big hit for Xbox. Hexen or Heretic (why not both? Double the fun) need to make a comeback.
Why Activision? Why Bury Prototype?
Before I begin, let me express my frustration a bit. Why did you do it Activision? Prototype was an excellent concept with a pretty good execution too, and to this day it has a considerable fan following. I admit Prototype 2 was not as high as the original, but it was still a great game. Its comparatively weaker reception was no reason to just pull the plug and even kill the developer studio, Radical Entertainment.
Take a look at the original Prototype. A question here, Do you not like the possibility of an overpowered protagonist who makes the game essentially his playground with highly creative superpowers? I’m sure you do and that is Prototype through and through. Taking control of Alex Mercer, an amnesiac super-powered shapeshifter on his quest to uncover the truth while making enemies of almost everyone.
Prototype’s concept of a no-holds-barred superpower galore was such a brilliant idea. The entire map is there just for you to flex your abilities and have fun while doing so. Couple that with interesting mechanics and you never get bored in this creative world. The story mostly revolves around slowly uncovering your lost memories and aiming to stop a deadly virus while everyone considers you more of a menace than that fatal enemy.
Next came Prototype 2 and let me say this first of all, I didn’t like this game’s story at all. It ruined the build-up of the first game and made Alex an actual menace instead. But the story aside, the game manages to improve upon the gigantic predecessor in terms of mechanics and enhances the destruction simulator. It was fairly popular in terms of sales too, yet Activision felt it was lackluster. I hope the new management sees the potential Prototype holds and gives the series a much-deserved revival.
Blur — Another Activision Studio-Killing Victim
Okay seriously, what is it with Activision and killing off studios when things go just a little bit south? This is the second time and by my count, that is a lot. Even more so when it led to the devastation of underrated gems like Blur. The game was a perfectly unique concept facing an unfortunately competitive release window with titles like Split/Second and ModNation Racers.
If you don’t know Blur, imagine Mario Kart but with real cars and more realistic design, but the superpowers stay. Blur was quite an impressive arcade racer and takes me back to my nostalgic Xbox 360 era. Blur was among the few games I got alongside the console and spent hours upon hours on this brilliant racing/combat simulator with my friends. The unique game modes like the arena mode where the game says forget racing and have intense battles instead was a grand adrenaline rush.
Yet the game’s potential was overlooked, and in a quite unfair way on top of that. It’s true Blur’s sales were comparatively weaker, but the reason Activision axed the developer Bizarre Creations was its next product, James Bond 007: Blood Stone. The 007 game’s poor sales became the catalyst that led to the closure of the developer by Activision, and alongside Blur was put to rest too.
If you think that’s heartbreaking, I have some bad news for you. Blur’s sequel was in development, and prototype videos of it were released. From what we saw, the sequel seemed a massive improvement over the original, with better game modes, locations, and one particular Dubai track featuring construction sections where you drive on the sides of buildings in an epic sequence. Unfortunately, the sequel was scrapped too, and we got a horrible mobile game instead.
Can't believe Blur 2 was cancelled and we got an awful mobile game that bears the Blur name.
Whatever this early footage of Blur 2 in action shows is far more interesting.
— NEO_NoiseBomb (@NEO_NoiseBomb) March 14, 2023
I’d Pay Top Dollar For A New True Crime Game
Here’s another highly underrated gem and, you guessed it, Activision abandoned it too. I genuinely question some of the company’s decisions. Makes you wonder if it even cares about anything that’s not Call of Duty. These decisions have led to many games suffering and True Crime is a pretty strong victim since it is a case of proper abandonment as Activision never renewed the trademark.
So what exactly is True Crime? I know practically everyone knows and loves GTA, and I’ll use it as an example. Take GTA and become the law enforcers instead of the lawbreakers, and you get True Crime. It was a pretty interesting concept as the GTA games of that time particularly Vice City were a hot topic and this game provided a different approach to the formula. And it’s the same now with all the GTA 6 speculation, True Crime would be pretty well-received.
The first game, True Crime: Streets of LA featured an LAPD detective Nicholas Kang investigating a bombing case that might hide much more than it seems. The game was a close mechanical match of GTA but made you a cop instead of a criminal. You are still free to do all the GTA-esque actions, but there’s a morality meter to keep you in check. The second game was True Crime: New York City which I honestly found to be quite inferior due to its excessive repetition and the very obvious development rush.
And this is where the trouble started, as the game performed quite poorly sales-wise. A sequel called True Crime: Hong Kong was in development but the idea was essentially scrapped. However, Square Enix came in to save the day and purchased the rights to True Crime: Hong Kong. It became the highly exceptional Sleeping Dogs which is among some of my favorites. There’s a thing to note here that Square Enix only got the True Crime: Hong Kong and not the IP itself, which is still with Activision.
In conclusion, if you think Activision only has Call of Duty or Crash, you might want to reconsider. My purpose in making this list was to highlight how the company abandoned multiple brilliant IPs because of very slight inconveniences. Now that Xbox’s acquisition of Activision is complete and it has even shown interest in the company’s IPs, it’s the perfect time to bring back these franchises and gather some strong contenders.
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