Microsoft's acquisition of Activision-Blizzard is perhaps one of the biggest moves in gaming history. This move has given a giant in the space an even bigger footprint, and not only has a chance to shake up the gaming landscape but it also has the ability to improve upon some of Activision-Blizzard's most exciting (and forgotten) franchises.
StarCraft, Diablo, and Overwatch, all three of these titles have been in the limelight in one way or another throughout Blizzard's history.
Whether it was early on with the massively influential Diablo and Starcraft in the late 90s/2000s that defined a generation of gaming, or with Overwatch, a new title that took the world by storm in 2016, they all have one thing in common - they're all lost at sea, and Microsoft could soon right their course.
StarCraft's possible return to glory
Following its initial release on March 31, 1998, StarCraft—alongside their already renowned Warcraft series—became one of the company's pillars that they would later on build off of.
Starcraft redefined the RTS genre, and became a massively important pillar in the evolution of esports.
The game was an instant hit among early gaming fans and with the later release of the game's sequel, StarCraft II: Wing of Liberty, on July 27, 2010, Blizzard had yet another solid title to take the world by storm with RTS dominance.
Unfortunately, beyond Starcraft 2's last two expansions, namely Heart of the Swarm on March 12, 2013, and Legacy of the Void on November 10, 2015, and outside of minor DLC, the series hasn't evolved since.
This is where Microsoft absorbing Activision Blizzard could change the game.
With a renewed focus on evolving Starcraft and continuing to build on the RTS genre, Microsoft just might help bring the title and the genre back into the limelight once more.
Diablo's return from purgatory
Diablo was a different style of game for Blizzard, but similarly, the series trailblazed an entire genre for decades to come.
Diablo was Blizzard's attempt at dipping their toes in the ARPG genre. A game set in the fictional dark world of Sanctuary features a constant struggle to fend off the demon hordes led by Diablo.
This game had gamers of all kinds hooked from the get-go, and add in the release of Diablo II on June 29, 2000, and it was absolute perfection. Despite fans waiting patiently for the next steps, however, Diablo wouldn't get a meaningful continuation for over ten years when Diablo III was released on May 15, 2012. And by all accounts, it didn't stand up to the previous heights.
This game failed to captivate the heart of their loyal fans once again, and debuted with constant errors and issues during the game's release, coining the infamous "Error 37" meme.
Following up afterward with the not so welcome Diablo Immortals, an attempt to bring the game to mobile platforms, meant once again fans were left reminiscing on what once was.
This was until Diablo 4's announcement during Blizzcon 2019 on November 1.
Diablo 4 left fans and non-fans excited for a new release, something that could revive the franchise once again. Fans also got to experience some nostalgia with Diablo II: Resurrected, which despite server problems did bring a little momentum back to the series.
From here, fans are still waiting for headway on Diablo 4, with the game being delayed once again in 2021. For the series to return to being the very best ARPG out and captivating the gaming world, we'll need to see some real improvement, and Microsoft's acquisition could very well be the push needed to get there.
Saving Overwatch's next steps
Blizzard's take on an FPS game was sure to be unique in its own ways, and Overwatch managed to captivate audiences from the very beginning.
Blizzard's famed story writing combined with their breathtaking cinematics could bring forth endless possibilities. And trailer after trailer, Blizzcon after Blizzcon, Overwatch continued to build on that success.
As quickly as Overwatch rose, however, the game began to slow down as innovations did within it. Players began to tire of the same content and roster, and balance update mishaps were no help.
Then came the surprising reveal of Overwatch 2.
Announced at the same Blizzcon as Diablo IV, Overwatch's newest expansion had all the room to dazzle fans once again with new innovations. A game that had endless possibilities in the story department finally had a story mode. Not only that but the game's beloved characters were getting a touch-up as well.
Since the reveal of Overwatch 2, however, it's been nothing but chaos since.
Blizzard revealed Overwatch 2's gameplay for the first time with its Gameplay Trailer in 2019, and in a string of delays lasting years now, it's also the last we've seen of Overwatch 2 gameplay as well.
Once again, that's where that new acquisition could come into play. Out of all of Activision Blizzard IPs—excluding the Call of Duty franchise—Overwatch was one of the easiest ways to enter the Blizzard fandom. Relatable characters, pretty colors, and awesome cinematics got many fans hooked, and the support of Microsoft could help build on this.
Will Microsoft save these franchises?
In the end, there are many ways to about this acquisition when it comes to these three titles. For starters, due to Microsoft's willingness to have the Xbox Game Pass work with PC gaming, all of these games could be added to it as early as 2023. On top of that, the countless promotion of these franchises and expanding them to new platforms could be the boon they need to be back at their full potential.
All in all, this could be a net positive for these massive titles, and there's plenty of reason to be excited about whether Microsoft can pick up the pieces.
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