Xbox sets sights on StarCraft in anticipation of Activision Blizzard deal
Microsoft's gaming head wants to return to Blizzard's classic franchises
➡️ The Shortcut Skinny: StarCraft reforged?
✨ Xbox is keen to see where it can take StarCraft and Warcraft if its purchase of Activision Blizzard is approved
😮 Head of Xbox Phil Spencer says he wants to sit down with the team at Blizzard to talk about its back catalog
😑 But there a no concrete plans in the pipeline just yet
🕴 Microsoft’s contentious acquisition of Activision Blizzard would have to pass first
Xbox boss Phil Spencer has set his sights set on the classic RTS series StarCraft and Warcraft, as Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard inches closer to being finalized.
Spencer was asked about Microsoft’s plans for the series in an interview with Wired. While the tech giant’s plans for Call of Duty have received much scrutiny, the much-loved StarCraft series would also add another acclaimed feather to Microsoft’s cap.
“You're absolutely right,” said Spencer. “Not only StarCraft, but Warcraft, when you think about the heritage of RTS games that we're talking about here, specifically from Blizzard.
“I don't have any concrete plans today because I can't really get in and work with the teams. But StarCraft was a seminal moment in gaming, right? From an esports perspective, from RTS on console perspective, and from just an RTS storytelling perspective in the genre.
“And I'm excited about getting to sit down with the teams at Activision and Blizzard and King to talk about [their] back catalog and opportunities that we might have.”
Spencer added: “So I will dodge the question other than to say it's not something I can actively work on right now. But the thought of being able to think about what could happen with those franchises is pretty exciting to me, as somebody who spent a lot of hours playing those games.”
Spencer’s comments will come as music to the ears of StarCraft fans. The latest game to release in the series was a 2017 HD remaster of the original 1998 RTS, and Blizzard stopped updating StarCraft 2 with new content in 2020.
Warcraft, meanwhile, has been left waiting for even longer. After launching Warcraft 3: The Frozen Throne in 2002, Blizzard pivoted the series behind the breakout MMO World of Warcraft and 2014’s Hearthstone. The original RTS portion of the franchise was last tapped into in 2020’s poorly received Warcraft 3: Reforged.
Of course, Xbox won’t be able to do anything with the series if regulators stop its acquisition of Activision Blizzard. After rival Sony made it abundantly clear it doesn’t want the deal to go through, Microsoft has become more aggressive in promoting the supposed benefits of the takeover. Spencer, in particular, has reiterated that it won’t be taking Call of Duty off PlayStation platforms.
The Shortcut is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.