Since early 2013 rumors were starting to swirl around a renewed focus on first party Microsoft titles for the PC. Late last year during an interview with Shacknews, Phil Spencer promised a renewed focus on Microsoft developing core first party titles for the PC platform.
A quick look at the publishing history of Microsoft Studios reveals a drastic decline in first party titles being developed and released by the developer. With the original XBox being released in 2001, it’s not a huge stretch to imagine where Microsoft’s gaming focus went. It’s quite sad really when you look at the caliber of titles that Microsoft has produced for PC in the past. Popular, even genre defining, first party titles have been produced by Microsoft in years past.
The PC game publishing history of Microsoft is quite vast. On top of making great games, Microsoft’s dedication to PC gaming in the past has been a driving force behind many technologies such as dual-monitors, cloud support, and of course DirectX itself. We’ve put together a wishlist of our top 10 games that we’d love to see Microsoft bring back from the dead, or at the very least port to the PC.
Not all of these will be PC titles, all of them are first party titles published by Microsoft Studios though. We specifically tried to look for titles that would fit well with current PC game trends and also could be considered dead.
|Age of Mythology|
|Age of Mythology was a spin-off of the Age of Empires series that featured similar RTS gameplay and art style. Instead of the historical theme of Age of Empires, Age of Mythology took its inspiration from various Greek, Norse, and Egyptian mythological creatures. |
While the game was mostly well received at the time, some critics felt that the game failed expand on the standard RTS gameplay or capitalize on the unique units it featured. The series was dropped after receiving one expansion in 2003.
With a renewed public interest from the likes of Ancient Aliens, comic books, and movies now is could be a great time for Microsoft to revisit this classic series.
|Buy this game now – Age of Mythology: Including Titans Expansion|
|If you’re old enough to remember when Windows 95 was released you’ll probably also remember playing all of those awesome games that Microsoft included in the Microsoft Entertainment Pack or the Windows 95 disc itself. Games like Hover, JezzBall, Chip’s Challenge, and SkiFree are timeless classics that made trips to visit Grandma and her old PC a little less boring. Sure kids these days have things like smart phones and Nintendo 3DS’, it’s easy to argue that there’s no need for SkiFree or any of the other Windows 95 games to return.These games were so much more than just common shovelware begging to be uninstalled. Windows 95 ushered in the dawn of the casual entertainment age oc PC. So many unique titles bundled together with an OS meant that almost anyone could find a casual game they enjoyed. Because it was bundled with just about every PC on the market you could literally play it almost anywhere.The point here is that Microsoft had an entertainment based culture that focused on easily accessible and unique casual PC games. They could do worse than try to recapture some of that mentality going forward.|
|Buy this game now – You can’t buy this game, but you can still play it at http://ski.ihoc.net/|
|Crimson Skies was released on PC and then as a more full featured release on Xbox. You play as a fighter pilot in a steampunk-type world filled with danger and mystery. While the game wasn’t terribly well received at release it’s action packed combat and unique setting has allowed it to remain a cult classic to this day.Crimson Skies could fit in well in today’s market with games like World of Warplanes and LUFTRAUSERS paving the way for a flight combat comeback.|
|Buy this game now – Crimson Skies – PC|
|Since the original Xbox the Forza Motorsport series has been a staple of quality and innovation on gaming consoles. A unique approach to simulated physics mixed with an easily accessible control style has made Forza the leader of the pack on home consoles.Gamers love racing games, truth is many of us started with the likes of Cruisin’ USA and Off-Road and turned into adults who wanted to drive the fast cars we’ve been playing for years. With Gran Turismo lagging behind on innovation and release dates Microsoft has clearly dominated the console racing sim market for a few years now. Games like a Assetto Corsa, Project Cars, and Next Car Game on PC Microsoft has found itself in a strange position of having lots of fresh competitors looking to take it’s crown. |
Much like car manufactures working through early teething issues with new models, these PC developers could really shake up the console landscape by bringing a polished title to the market. Microsoft has already proven how easily it can port Forza to PC, in fact it’s already done! Now might be the time to start competing in the big leagues of the PC market if they want to keep the fan base around in the coming years.
|Buy this game now – Forza Motorsport 5 (Xbox One)|
|If you played a lot of Halo 1 back in the day Fuzion Frenzy is probably a game you’re familiar with. Featured as a playable demo on the Halo disc Fuzion Frenzy was a darker and more action packed Mario Party-like game. Fuzion Frenzy gave us all a break from the shooting after marathon split screen Halo sessions.It’s likely that Fuzion Frenzy was way ahead of its time. Console internet gaming and broadband had yet to really take off; both of which would have given the series a much wider audience. While Fuzion Frenzy featured AI opponents the real magic happened when competing against 3 of your asshole friends. If you didn’t have friends Fuzion Frenzy probably wasn’t that fun. Even with the near worldwide adoption of broadband internet Fuzion Frenzy probably wouldn’t be popular enough to warrant a big budget release. |
Where a game like Fuzion Frenzy would really shine is as part of a larger Xbox Live on Windows program, possibly as a free party game sort of how 1 vs 100 was on Xbox. Microsoft needs to get highly invested in keeping PC gaming on Windows and giving the masses a free catalogue of games is likely a necessary evil. Free for all Fuzion Frenzy games on PC over the internet could be a F2P hit.
|Buy this game now – Fuzion Frenzy – Xbox|
|Viva Pinata has maintained a loyal fan base eager to see an eventual return to Pinata Island despite a lack of titles in recent years. Among the games on this list Viva Pinata has managed to break into the most diverse set of markets. Fans of the series have been able to get their pinata fix on home console, PC, and the Nintendo DS. Most impressively, Viva Pinata managed to transition into a well made Saturday morning cartoon series and was even available as a limited run toy series included in Burger King kid’s meals! In many ways Viva Pinata was well ahead of its time in terms of multi-market branding.In recent years though products like Skylanders and Disney Infinity have dominated the children’s game market using tactics similar to those proven by Viva Pinata and Pokemon. There’s no question that Microsoft has a good deal of the male 15-25 demographic with their Xbox brand. Children have become an especially diverse emerging market in games due to interactive toys, motion controls, and television tie-ins. |
Microsoft already has an established brand with a loyal fan base, some of whom have entered the age of potential parenthood. What better game to trust with your children than one that you lovingly played in your youth?Microsoft can make a serious attempt at grabbing a piece of this emerging market. With the right amount of resources and technology Viva Pinata could very well be the Skylanders killer we’ve all been waiting for.
|Buy this game now – Viva Piñata (Platinum Family Hits) (Xbox)|
|Microsoft Flight Simulator|
|Microsoft Flight Simulator is by far the oldest running series on this list. First released in 1982, Microsoft Flight Simulator has pushed PC gaming technology to new heights with each release.Innovations such as multi-monitor support and gaming specific peripherals were highly influenced by their support in the game. Before Microsoft Flight Simulator came along most people wouldn’t dream of gaming on more than a single monitor.While Microsoft released Flight in 2012, Microsoft Flight Simulator hasn’t seen a formal release since 2006. With recent advancements in multi-monitor support, multi-core processors, dual-GPUs, ridiculous ram sizes, and cloud computing Microsoft Flight Simulator could usher in a new set of futuristic features that highlight the best of what Microsoft’s various hardware and software teams have to offer. |
While hardcore flight simulators might be a decidedly niche market, driving innovation has always been a cornerstone of Microsoft Flight Simulator. With DirectX 12 coming soon a return to the skies could be a great way for Microsoft to show off how far they’ve advanced since 2006.
|Buy this game now – Microsoft Flight Simulator X: Gold Edition|
|Yeah yeah, we know that Microsoft released Zoo Tycoon on Xbox One. It’s already revived, we get it. But it’s still dead on the platform that gave it life, and that’s got to count for something.We’re in the midst of a business management game revival. With developers such as Kairosoft on mobile devices and Introversion on PC, players are hungry for the type of gameplay that tycoon games of the hospital, rollercoaster, and zoo nature pioneered. Zoo Tycoon’s latest release on Xbox brings a lot of change to the previous format but that’s ok on a home console. |
Even if Microsoft simply ported the current version to PC we’d still be happy. They’ve shown how easy porting Xbox One titles is with DirectX 12 and Forza 5, why not bring a few more exclusives over to shore up an Xbox on PC catalogue? Obviously we’d be most happy with a return to the familiar top-down business management style of the past. Let’s be honest, we deserve better than SimCity 2013 and the upcoming Rollercoaster Tycoon Mobile. Microsoft should throw us building sim players a bone here.
|Buy this game now – Zoo Tycoon Complete Collection – PC|
|Can we just be honest here for a moment? Impossible Creatures is probably one of the best games RTS games ever made. Laugh all you want at that statement, we’re ok with it.Impossible Creatures was developed by Relic and published by Microsoft Studios back in 2002. After over a decade and with Relic’s parent company going bankrupt it’s a mystery who owns the Impossible Creatures IP. Regardless, let’s imagine a world in which Microsoft still controls the IP here. |
In many ways Impossible Creatures was innovative to a detrimental degree. The game did away with the large amount of buildings commonly seen in RTS games during that time and replaced it with a huge amount of units. When all was said and done the game featured almost 80 base units whose body parts could be mixed and matched to form entirely new units. We’re not going to try to do the math on the number of unique combinations you could make but rest assured the number is incredible. A voice acted storyline, unique setting, and objective based campaign helped set Impossible Creatures apart from many of its competitors.While the original game wasn’t a smash success there is still a dedicated cult following that would love to see a sequel developed.
It’s not too difficult to envision a F2P sequel to Impossible Creatures that features hundreds of unique animals with players being able to purchase premium body parts or species.
|Buy this game now – Impossible Creatures – PC|
|Age of Empires|
|Age of Empires holds a special place the hearts of many. Originally released in 1997 Age of Empires is quite possibly older than some of you reading this right now. While it’s fair to say Age of Empires is not dead and as such can’t be revived, we wholeheartedly disagree with that statement. We played Age of EmpiresOnline, Age of Empires is dead.Age of Empires as a series is highly regarded among PC gamers at a near universal level. During a time when RTS games such as Warcraft, Starcraft, and Command and Conquer were pushing the sci-fi and fantasy themes Age of Empires took the genre in an entirely different direction. With each entry in the series we were treated to new civilizations, playstyles, and ever-improving realistic graphics. It’s no wonder that even today Age of Empires is still played at Lan Parties across the world. While Age of Empires Online is a thing that still exists, it never quite managed to capture that true Age of Empires feel. Maybe it was the cartoony graphics, most likely it was the highly restrictive F2P economics that made anyone with hundreds of dollars to spend on their army unbeatable. It would be best if starting right now we just all forget Age of Empires Online ever existed. |
The simple fact is that Microsoft is pretty much just sitting on this blockbuster title because they can’t figure out what to do with it. The name Age of Empires still draws a massive crowd on PC. Maybe they haven’t invested much time and energy into it due to the difficulty of console RTS games, that’s highly possible. Either way a true sequel to Age of Empires III would sell massively if released in a traditional format. It’s pretty much crazy not to develop this game, especially considering how easily they could build a simple online multiplayer network branded with the Microsoft Azure cloud technology.
|Buy this game now – Age of Empires III Complete Collection [Download]|