Microsoft’s announcement agreeing to buy Activision-Blizzard in a $68 billion deal has rattled the gaming industry, with many wondering what will happen once the deal closes.
This means brands like Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon, and True Crime: Streets of LA are set to be owned by Microsoft, alongside other brands like DOOM, Elder Scrolls, Halo, and more.
But that raises the aspect of Sony’s position in this area. With a rumored service called Project Spartacus offering titles from its nearly 30-year-old catalog, there will be franchises, such as Crash Bandicoot, that will need more talk to be allowed on the service.
However, it’s also representative of just how far behind Sony in light of Microsoft’s big news, and what that could mean for future generations of consoles and games as a whole.
A Sony and Microsoft agreement?
When the Nintendo Online Expansion Pack service was announced in October, Nintendo surprised many by confirming that Microsoft-owned Banjo Kazooie was about to arrive on the service, now available to play on the Switch.
In retrospect, this was no surprise, mainly due to main characters Banjo and Kazooie appearing in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate as paid DLC, in 2019.
Plus, seeing the first game in the series, on the Nintendo Online Service with a “by Xbox Game Studios”, will make anyone over 20 do a double take. Especially with the Rare logo that appears once you start the game. But it shows how far some brands have come since they were first released on other systems.
Yet Sony is already on the back. It didn’t help matters when CEO Jim Ryan publicly called his old catalog “dated” and questioned why anyone would play them, a comment that Ryan has apparently since backed away from.
Dismissing over 25 years of gaming wouldn’t put anyone in a good light, especially Sony’s CEO. But Project Spartacus seeks to reverse some of that ill will, which is rumored to include games from the PS1 and PS2 era.
While I don’t expect Onimusha 2 or Rosco McQueen to appear on the service, at least to begin with, seeing games like Ridge Racer and Tomb Raider 2 ready to play on a PlayStation 5 is hugely appealing.
But we’ve been here before. In 2015, Sony allowed PS2 Classics to run on the PlayStation 4where you could play Ape Escape 2, Resident Evil 4, and nearly the entire library of PS2 releases from Rockstar Games.
Users were hoping this would mean that games you could play on PS3, PSP, and PS Vita would eventually work on PlayStation 4, but it didn’t. The program collapsed after 18 months, and while you can play it on your PlayStation 5, it’s far from scratching the demand that’s out there.
But it also comes down to who owns the rights. Sony may have another battle soon, to deliver the original Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon games, now that they’re about to be owned by Microsoft. These were once Sony exclusives, at least in the heyday of their original releases. We can see something similar to the deal Microsoft and Nintendo had for Banjo to appear on the Switch Online service.
But time will tell. Nostalgia is a powerful asset in gaming, now more than ever. It brings back memories and good feelings of a time when you enjoyed a game for what it was when it was released, not what it could be, whether through DLC content or season packs. multiplayer.
After so many years of Sony adamantly refusing to honor the past that so many still hold in high light, Project Spartacus needs to impress on day one and not repeat the same tropes as its PS2 Classics series on PS4.