Xbox has reached an agreement with 'Crash Bandicoot,' 'Spyro' dev Toys for Bob for their new game

Spyro Reignited Trilogy
(Image credit: Toys for Bob)

What you need to know

  • Recently, Microsoft acquired Activision-Blizzard-King in a blockbuster $72 billion deal that gave the software giant control over franchises like Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, and Candy Crush Saga. 
  • Included in the acquisition was legendary studio Toys for Bob, who have worked on franchises like Skylanders, Spyro the Dragon, and Crash Bandicoot, across a 30-year history. 
  • Last month, Microsoft and Toys for Bob agreed to part ways with the latter spinning out into an independent company. 
  • Microsoft retains ownership of Skylanders, Crash Bandicoot, Spyro, and other properties associated with Activision. 
  • Our sources have confirmed that Toys for Bob has now finalized an agreement with Xbox to fund their first title. 

Microsoft finally finished its blockbuster acquisition of Activision-Blizzard-King a few months ago, giving the firm control over mega franchises like Call of Duty, Candy Crush Saga, and World of Warcraft

As part of the acquisition, Microsoft also snapped up a ton of other studios and franchises, including classic Activision game series' like Guitar Hero, Skylanders, and many more. 

In yesteryear, the legendary team at Toys for Bob were instrumental in building out Activision's big Skylanders franchise, which included toys-to-life gameplay elements, similar to Nintendo's amiibo line. Players could buy small figurines with NFC chips baked in, and then place those characters within the Skylanders video game via a USB peripheral "portal." Toys for Bob also were involved in various previous Crash Bandicoot titles, as well as producing a fourth instalment "Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time." However, in recent years and during the Covid-19 pandemic especially, Toys for Bob were increasingly leaned on by Activision to support the monolithic Call of Duty effort, working as a support studio on various entries in the series. 

Sources have indicated to me previously that Toys for Bob's culture didn't gel well with Activision's oft-restrictive corporate mandates, and they were excited for the opportunity to spin out as independent in agreement with Microsoft. When they initially spun out, they released a statement indicating that they were "confident" they would work with Activision and Xbox in the future and that they were exploring a "possible" partnership. It now seems those talks have bared fruit. 

Toys for Bob has reaches an agreement with Xbox

Toys for Bob said fans should "keep their horns on" when announcing their independence. A Spyro hint? (Image credit: Toys for Bob)

During a recent townhall meeting described to us by sources familiar with the event, a staffer asked the panellists about Toys for Bob, given that they're now going independent separate from Microsoft and Activision. Toys for Bob's leadership was adamant about keeping the team together, and also about returning to the style of game the studio is known for. 

Microsoft referenced how they spun out Twisted Pixel in the past, as an alternative option to shuttering studios. Matt Booty, now leading Xbox's game content division, reportedly said that an agreement has now been reached between Xbox and Toys for Bob for their first game as an independent studio. However, he stopped short of describing exactly what it will be, although he did say something along the lines of, and I'm paraphrasing, "it will be similar to games Toys for Bob has made in the past." 

Toys for Bob may be independent, but the fact they told fans to "keep their horns on" could be in reference to Spyro the Dragon, which enjoys a passionate fanbase to this day. The humorous 3D platformers that Toys for Bob is often associated with are still owned by Microsoft, but for now, have no dedicated developer. It seems entirely likely that Toys for Bob's first game out of the gate could either be within the Crash or Spyro pantheon, but it could also be something else completely, perhaps Toys for Bob's very own IP. Perhaps long-suffering Banjo Kazooie fans could get a glimmer of hope from this deal too. Either way, it's incredibly encouraging to see Toys for Bob will continue to get to do their own thing, while also retaining their team and culture. Perhaps the game will show up day one on Xbox Game Pass as well?

The story of Toys for Bob has been a bit of a refreshing bright spot in an industry that has been fraught with layoffs, tightened budgets, and increased costs in recent years. 

Jez Corden
Co-Managing Editor

Jez Corden is a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by tea. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his XB2 Podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!