Phil Spencer Wants to Revisit Old Activision Blizzard Games “with the Respect They Deserve”

Microsoft Gaming CEO doesn’t want to just create something “for financial gain” or for “a PR announcement and not deliver on the product.”

With Activision Blizzard officially part of Xbox, Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer has discussed some plans for the future in a recent Xbox podcast. He confirmed that no titles from the publisher would come to Game Pass this year, though 2024 is more reasonable, and the era of exclusive betas and skins for Call of Duty on other platforms is over.

Of course, with all the teasing for reviving classic franchises like Guitar Hero and whatnot, what is Spencer’s stance on the same? He said (transcription via VGC) that the amount of franchises in the company’s portfolio is “kind of inspiring” and “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. And 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.

“So, I’m going to start with the teams, and what are they passionate about, and that’s why I’m excited to go on these [studio] visits and then we’ll look at it.”

Spencer acknowledged that Xbox has done “an OK job” but not “an A+ job on looking at our franchises and revisiting them. It’s always a trade-off between what do you do that’s new and going back and doing something. I do think with Game Pass, we can maybe pick a couple of franchises every year and almost do a ‘revisited’ – I just made up that term, so it’s not a brand, it’s not on a box.

“But you know, I tease about things like Hexen just because I remember playing it as a kid. I have no plan for that, 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 recognize 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.”

If there are studios that want to revisit classic games, Spencer would support it, though it’s not compulsory. “I think there’s just an amazing trove of things that we can go and touch again.” As for the Activision Blizzard franchises he’s interested in players rediscovering or experiencing for the first time, he said, “There are some moments in Activision’s history – you mentioned Tony Hawk, you mentioned Guitar Hero, even things like Skylanders – that were moments where the teams kind of innovated outside of expectation.

“What do you mean I’m going to carry a plastic guitar and plug it into my console and play? Like, that’s never going to work until it worked. And then everybody said, well, of course, that was going to work. You know, Skylanders, kind of the same way.”

Spencer is personally more connected to adventure games like King’s Quest and Zork. However, when it comes to the classics, he feels, “Most important is that we treat them with the respect that they deserve, and we don’t turn it into some way for us just to do, like I said, a PR moment or something else.”

Time will tell how that goes, so stay tuned for more updates.