Back in the glorious Xbox One years, when every Microsoft executive was engaged in the act of putting one foot in their mouth while shooting it simultaneously, there was a giddy period of marketing conducted by means of Phil Spencer’s T-shirts. He’d rock up on E3 stages like a cabaret dancer, touting tees with various new or elderly videogame licenses on them, and whipping older fans into a frenzy of speculation as to possible remakes or sequels. I myself had to go lie down after seeing Phil in a Phantom Dust shirt. Teaser-shirts, we should have called them. Look at him in the picture up there, showing off a chestful of Hexen. Shameless!
Sadly/happily, those halcyon days are behind us, but Phil still loves to dangle the carrot of an ancient IP now and then. Speaking on the Xbox podcast last night (while sporting a boring Halo championship jacket), he suggested that Microsoft could do more to revive their older franchises. Or at least “revisit” them in some fashion.
“I think we’ve done an OK job as Xbox, I don’t think we’ve done an A+ job on looking at our franchises and revisiting them,” Spencer said in the video. “It’s always a trade-off between what do you do that’s new and going back and doing something.”
As is ever the case with Microsoft’s discussion of their product strategy at present, the secret sauce here could be Game Pass – that magical subscription-based dimension in which new, old, uber-profitable and cultish licenses meet and lie down together, like animals in the garden of Eden. “I do think with Game Pass, we have the ability to maybe pick a couple of franchises every year and almost do a ‘revisited’,” Spencer said, swiftly adding “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,” he went on. “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 recognise 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.”
I’m never quite able to decide how genuine Phil is, when he reminisces about old games. It often feels too specific to be false, but there’s obviously a sizeable element of calculation, and I’ve been burned before – Phantom Dust never quite made it to full remake status, in the end. We got lumbered with a no-frills Windows 10 re-release. The forthcoming Perfect Dark reboot also seems rather troubled.
These latest Spencer musings arrive in the wake of Microsoft’s final, for-real-this-time acquisition of Activision-Blizzard(-King) and all of their many properties. Phil has all kinds of crazy plans for the latter, naturally. “The amount of franchises that we now have in our portfolio is kind of inspiring, it’s daunting,” he said. “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,” he added.
If rumour speak true, Microsoft also plan to warm over a large number of moderately older Bethesda games, including Fallout 3 and Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion. Let’s not count our chickens, even if they do show up on a T-shirt at some stage.
It feels like we’re seeing the dawn of a new marketing buzzword: visiting. How does visiting a franchise compare to remastering, remaking or re-releasing it? And when can we expect a new T-shirt Phil? Just promise you won’t do what Peter Moore did and get the brand name tattooed on your arm.
Thanks for passing this on, VGC.
Credit : Source Post