This is a big week for the gaming world. On January 18, when Microsoft announced that it would acquire Activision Blizzard, we felt a seismic wave swept through the industry. The troubled companies behind some of gaming’s biggest IPs have recently been embroiled in a messy public discrimination and harassment lawsuit filed in California.
After the news, we started piecing together more elements of the story: whether the unpopular Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick said he would be at Activision Blizzard “on demand” to “ensure the best integration” , or Microsoft saying this isn’t the company’s “intent to pull the community away from PlayStation,” and we’re starting to see some answers to many of our early questions about the merger.
But there’s a lot we don’t know; what does this mean for Activision Blizzard games on non-Xbox platforms? Will Microsoft start offering games made by its 30 in-house studios to other platforms (if the deal goes through, how many will it have)? Given that the company seems to have more final games than anything else, could we even see Microsoft expand Game Pass elsewhere?
At the moment, all this is unclear. But we do know one thing: Once the acquisition closes, Xbox Game Pass will get more games. You hope so too, because Microsoft bought Activision Blizzard because Disney paid for Fox.
“[When the deal closes], we’ll make as many Activision Blizzard games as possible available on Xbox Game Pass and PC Game Pass, including new titles and titles from Activision Blizzard’s incredible catalog,” said Phils, CEO of Microsoft Games for Xbox Spencer said, in a press release“We also announced today that Game Pass now has over 25 million subscribers. As always, we look forward to continuing to add more value and more great games to Game Pass.”
With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of games that may (and won’t) make their way to Xbox Game Pass once the annual deal closes. This is very important.
Activision Blizzard games may come to Xbox Game Pass
Overwatch/ Overwatch 2
While we haven’t heard much lately about the anticipated hero shooter sequel, it makes sense that Xbox would want to focus on bringing Overwatch to consoles as Xbox’s big exclusive. The main competitive scene in the game lives and dies (and comes back to life) on PC, so bringing the series to Xbox Game Pass for PC is a no-brainer, really. Whether that means we’ll hear more about the game this year, though, remains to be seen. At least the first title is still heavily supported, and if it hits a subscription service, it could gain a whole new audience.
Call of Duty Series
In the past, when Xbox bought a company — Bethesda in this case — Microsoft has made a lot of hype, hoping to put all of its biggest games on Game Pass as soon as possible. When Activision Blizzard made the move, the most obvious and big move was Call of Duty: Whether we’ll see the entire series come to service (due to backwards compatibility) is curious, but we could at least see the likes of Modern Warfare, Black Action Cold War, Pioneer, and even some older previous-gen games are coming to the service without a hitch. If you’ve been putting off playing Ghosts (we can’t imagine why…) maybe you finally have a chance!
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
In an odd move for a perpetual Bandai Namco pal, From Software, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is actually published and funded by Activision. The game (which is considered by many to be the best of the Souls-like games) is quicker, more self-made than a Dark Souls game, and builds on the flirtatious rhythm combat that was first seen in Bloodborne. Having this on Game Pass is a no-brainer, especially if the player base is eager for another hard action-RPG fix after Elden Ring launches.
Crash Bandicoot 4 / Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy / Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled
Once upon a time, our favorite orange marsupials were synonymous with PlayStation – whether in Japan, Europe or the US, Crash became synonymous with Sony’s PlayStation. How do times change, eh? Xbox needs its own great platformer; the company has never really been able to make a platformer mascot stuck in its (relatively) young life. The availability of Crash games (by Beeox and Toys for Bob) on Xbox Game Pass will eliminate the nostalgia for traditional games and will provide more promise for spin, jump and Wumpa collectors around the world once they get to The latest game in the series whetted their appetite. There are over 20 Crash Bandicoot games in all, and if you dig into the series’ long history, it makes sense that Microsoft could get a decent amount on Game Pass. It’s worth noting that some recent Crash games were PlayStation exclusives at launch, but we don’t see the mess here too bad.
Diablo 2: Resurrection / Diablo 3: Eternal Collection
Last year, we saw the (fairly quiet) Diablo 2 Remake on PC and consoles. Granted, it did launch in the midst of Activision Blizzard’s chaotic, ongoing legal drama. Maybe games will get a second chance to shine if they’re added to Game Pass? Ditching Diablo 4 before it’s released (if that ever happens), maybe Diablo 3, as a chaser, might do wonders for the new game’s hype.
spyro rekindle trilogy
Spyro – formerly the property of Insomniac Games – is now managed by Toys For Bob, who has proven to be a great caretaker of the little purple dragon. The 2018 remake of Spyro’s first trilogy is a must-play for kids of any age, and it seems Microsoft could easily bring the game to Game Pass early on. Take it away from me, it’s also a great title to follow for achievement.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 Remake
Given that Activision owns all the rights to Tony Hawk’s pro skate game (and its spin-offs like American Wasteland, etc.), we’re likely to see a collection of over 20 games used to populate the sports section on Game Pass. Adding a game like Skate 3 to the EA Play section of the service will make many skaters around the world – including your real – very happy. The only thing holding back is the licensing rights to the music, and possibly even the Hawke name itself. This shouldn’t be an issue with the latest game, though; it’s only coming in 2020!
Here’s a list of other games we could see ending up in retro ports, PC versions, or collections:
- Candy Crush
- Geometry Wars
- Hearthstone (we can play this free game with Game Pass, a la Halo Infinite)
- hero of the storm
- ’76 Interstate
- king’s task
- lost vikings
- pursuit of glory
- Singular point
- Fortune Warrior
- space exploration
- time shift
- true crime
- World of Warcraft
Activision Blizzard games may not be coming to Xbox Game Pass
Guitar Hero/DJ Hero Series
This one is tricky; while Activision Blizzard does own the rights to the Guitar Hero songs, it’s likely to be tricky to make the traditional game sellable and playable again due to changing licensing agreements with the various song rights holders. So dedicated Guitar Hero games like Aerosmith or Metallica will be hard to revisit. Also, buying old peripherals can be difficult if you want to play games normally. The easiest way we’ll see the series on Game Pass is 2015’s Guitar Hero Live… Given that GHTV mode was shut down on December 1, 2018 (reducing the available Guitar Hero songs from 484 to a pitiful 42), our best bet may be to wait for another game in the series…if that ever happens.
Deadpool and Activision’s Marvel Games
Deadpool — and a slew of other games Activision released under Marvel licenses — was removed from digital storefronts in 2014. Although the game was re-released on November 18, 2015 to accompany the film version of Ryan Reynolds’ film, it was delisted again on November 16, 2017 due to licensing issues. All in all: this one probably won’t be coming to Game Pass anytime soon. The same goes for Ultimate Alliance games, actually pretty good Wolverine Origins games (don’t judge me), X-Men games from the 2000s, and Spider-Man games from the same era. I’m guessing Microsoft could always strike some ridiculous deals with Disney, but Spider-Man is a close Sony property at this point and we’re unlikely to see much movement on these older games.
Activision’s Transformers Games
Activision’s Transformers franchise — including but not limited to High Moon Studios’ Transformers: War for Cybertron and Platinum Games’ Transformers Destruction — may never make it to the Game Pass service either. In late 2017, these games were again pulled from digital storefronts because Hasbro did not renew their contract with the publisher. It remains to be seen whether Microsoft can strike some sort of arrangement with the company to bring games back to the storefront, but for now it’s best to assume you’ll need a disc to play these games or you won’t be able to play them at all.
Similar to the Guitar Hero series, the Skylanders game relies on peripherals and accessories that are no longer in production. This means that even if the game does make it to Game Pass, the vast majority of players will have a bad time in the game (in some cases, some progress is even locked behind the correct numbers). Sure, you can play the game without a puppet, but collectibles and certain areas are locked without a puppet. So if they use the service, either we’ll modify the game so that it loses the point of the original, or the port is badly affected. It’s probably not worth the trouble, is it?
Released for PS3 and Xbox 360 in 2010, Blur is a Bizarre Creations game (RIP) published by Activision. As much as we’d love to see the title make a comeback, the game offers a variety of real-world cars, from Dodge Vipers to Lotus Exiges to Ford Transits and F1-engined wagons. This is a crazy project. Sadly, a car license plate acts a lot like a music license plate, so it’s unlikely we’ll see it make its way to Game Pass. But what about Blur 2? We can dream!