Eagle eyed Reddit users cocobandicoot and holmesy25 spotted a string of very interesting events about the Crash Bandicoot franchise, compiling a whole timeline that ends today with the shutting down of the official website by Activision, and the removal of any reference to the franchise on any website owned by the publisher.
Is this a sign of a re-acquisition of the franchise by Sony? We can’t know for now, but it’s very possible. You can check out the full timeline below, directly from the original reddit post.
The official Crash Bandicoot website, owned and operated by Activision, has been taken down. The latest archived version of the site is from this past summer, when rumors of a Sony acquisition of the franchise started popping up.
Additionally, the Crash Bandicoot brand has been completely removed from Activision’s main website, and any search through their homepage no longer yields any results. Previously, links to their licensed Crash games were available. Also, their support pages no longer offer support for Crash: Mind Over Mutant (the last game released), or their iOS kart racers.
The whole timeline of events is as follows:
- First, it started with Crash Bandicoot being created by Naughty Dog in the 90s. It becomes one of the biggest game franchises in PlayStation history.
- The series is later owned by a variety of different publishers and developers, releasing games with generally mediocre reviews on multiple platforms, including mobile devices. The series sits dormant for several years, owned by Activision.
- The last console-based Crash Bandicoot title was Crash: Mind Over Mutant, released by Radical Games and distributed by Activision in 2008 for the PlayStation 2, Xbox 360, and Wii. Another game was released later, albeit for mobile platforms, in the form of Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 2, released for iOS in May 2010, developed by Polar Bit and published by Activision.
- After acquisition by Activision, several Crash Bandicoot titles were cancelled in 2010, including a Crash Team Racing title by High Impact Games, another title by Radical Games, and yet another title by Renegade Kid for Nintendo DS — none of them were released, all of them had Activision as their publisher.
- Stephen Totilo of Kotaku spoke with Activision president Eric Hirshberg in the fall of 2011, writing that Crash has “fallen off the map, and he’s probably not going to come back as a Skylander [as Spyro did].” Hirshberg was quoted as saying, “I love Crash Bandicoot… and I would love to find a way to bring him back, if we could.”
- A year later in the fall of 2012, fans questioned why the Crash Bandicoot character did not appear in the PS3 title PlayStation All-Stars. Activision’s support team said in a tweet that they were hopeful to see the character make an appearance. An exchange with Sony Santa Monica the month prior indicated the character’s appearance was not possible. Crash never made an appearance in the game.
- The spring of 2013 sees the announcement of the PlayStation 4, and it is revealed that heading development of the PS4 is Mark Cerny, former producer and developer on the original Crash Bandicoot series, Spyro series, and Jak & Daxter. He promises that “the PlayStation 4 will recapture gaming’s glory days,” and create “a renaissance of gaming.”
- Andy Gavin, co-creator of Crash Bandicoot, is quoted in an interview from May 2013 as saying that, “Crash needs a total reboot. There’s an opportunity to reset the history, and go back to his creation story and the original conflict with Cortex. In that context, you could reprise classic Crash 1 and 2’s settings and villains. It would make sense to use a more modern, free-roaming style. I would concentrate on Looney Tunes-esque animation and really addictive action. That’s what we did with the original Crash, and there’s no reason it couldn’t be done today. Given [Activision’s] Crash games, people forget that he was once cool. [Naughty Dog’s] Crash had a certain whimsical edge to him. Sure, it was goofy – but it wasn’t dumb.”
- During a conference call in August 2013, in regards to a question asked about Crash Bandicoot’s cancellation, an Activision representative actually indicated that the franchise was no longer owned by Activision and was, in fact, returned to Sony. A tweet from Activision’s support team, however, said otherwise.
- A silhouette of Crash Bandicoot appears in the launch day trailer for the PS4 released in November 2013. The image depicts Crash, with an arrow, pointing to a gold diamond, similar to the logo for Sony Computer Entertainment (i.e. Crash returning to Sony).
- Also in November 2013, Kevin Pereira of DeathSquad podcast leaks info saying Sony is about to bring back one of their biggest exclusives. (Sony did bring back Uncharted at the launch event; could Crash have been put on the back burner for the VGAs at the last minute?)
- Rumors of Crash Bandicoot on PS4 continue into late 2013, as a source with Naughty Dog ties says the game “is definitely in production” and if Sony has re-acquired the rights to the franchise, it would be “one of the biggest, and well kept, secrets in the industry.”
- In November 2013, new Crash Bandicoot game appears on Amazon France, known for listing games considerably early before their official announcement. The game appears to be a reboot of the series, and is listed as published by Sony and is exclusive to the PlayStation 4. The link is taken down shortly after publication. The incident, however, is suspected to be a hoax.
- And now, today: the official Crash Bandicoot website is taken down, and all references to Crash Bandicoot are removed from Activision’s website. An archived version of Activision’s original site can be found here.
All of these components point to the possibility for a Sony reacquisition of the Crash Bandicoot IP. If, in fact, they do own the rights, it could be one of the biggest and best secrets in the industry for a Crash comeback on the PS4.