Hasbro thinks it's time for Activision Blizzard's Transformers games to come to Xbox Game Pass. At a recent Q&A with Transformer World 2005 at San Diego Comic-Con earlier in July, a spokesperson for the toy company was asked about older games in the series being re-released for newer consoles.
During the late 2000s and 2010s, numerous games for the Transformers brand were released. Several of them, like High Moon's Transformers: War for Cybertron and its sequel Transformers: Fall of Cybertron, are locked to their respective consoles (and Steam) and have never been ported to future systems or made backwards compatible.
The spokesperson revealed that Activision Blizzard apparently lost the games years ago, saying the developer "[isn't sure] what hard drives they're on in their building." While admitting their frustration at those games being lost, they think Xbox's possible acquisition of Activision Blizzard may result in the titles being found again.
"The hope is that now that the deal is moving forward with Microsoft and Xbox that they’ll go through all of the archives and every hard drive to find it all, because it’s an easy Game Pass add," the representative said. "We want those games back up for people to have a chance to play."
2015's Transformers: Devastation from PlatinumGames was the last Transformers game to be published by Activision Blizzard, and one of the franchise's last major releases overall. After Activision Blizzard lost the license in 2017, that game and many others were delisted.
The next major game for the brand is Splash Damage's Transformers: Reactivate.
Game preservation is bigger than the Transformers
That Activision Blizzard has seemingly lost any trace of its Transformers games underlines the need for stronger game preservation. Earlier in the month, Game Developer spoke with ESA CEO Stanley Pierre-Louis about how a study revealed nearly all pre-2010 games across all consoles are just completely lost to time.
In response to that study, Pierre-Louis reaffirmed his faith in game publishers (like Activision Blizzard) to handle preservation in their own individual ways. "There's a robust avenue for preservation to occur and that is occurring," he said at the time.
While big publishers like Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft are all tackling the preservation issue, that's usually through the means of locking older titles behind extra price subscription services. But that only goes so far, particularly for titles like the older Transformers games.
More tools are needed to keep all games intact and accessible by the public at large, and that will require those in the ESA and similar high-up positions in the industry to change their stance on the matter.
Update: In an email sent to Game Developer by Activision Blizzard, Hasbro said the comments of its spokesperson were "made in error."
"We apologize to Activision and regret any confusion," the statement continues. "They’ve been great partners, and we look forward to future opportunities to work together."
Beyond the statement above, neither party clarified whether the older Transformers games are truly lost, and in what context. Similarly, nothing was said about the possibility of any of these titles being made backwards compatible.