Microsoft once again raises the hopes of loyal Phantom Dust devotees by filing for a new trademark on the name of its cult classic action-strategy title.
The past couple of years have been something of a rollercoaster ride for any fans of the critically acclaimed Xbox exclusive Phantom Dust. After its unlikely sequel was announced a decade after the release of the original installment, development ended in disaster — but a new trademark has raised hopes once again.
It seems that Microsoft filed for a new trademark on Phantom Dust on January 13, 2016. While companies often make moves like this simply to mark their territory, in this case it seems unlikely that paperwork would be filed without plans to use the IP in the near future.
Many were surprised when Microsoft announced that a Phantom Dust revival was in the works at E3 2014. Little more than a short CG trailer was shown at the event, with the game being placed in the hands of Darkside Studios and development being carried out in relative secrecy.
In fact, the next time the community heard anything substantial about the project was when it was announced that Darkside Studios was to be shuttered. That happened in February of 2015, and seemed like a clear signal that the project was in some peril, given that the original game was a cult classic at best.
However, Microsoft — eager to work on the Xbox's struggle to find a Japanese audience — confirmed that development would continue on without the help of Darkside Studios. That being said, we would once again enter a period of radio silence regarding the project, which seemed to spell doom for the Phantom Dust fanbase.
Darkside Studios would speak out about the project, noting that the teaser we saw at E3 2014 had nothing to do with the development house accomplished. The new Phantom Dust was apparently set to be a multiplayer-centric title akin to Hearthstone, but the project fell apart when Microsoft requested a single-player campaign without increasing the game's budget.
It's unclear what the future holds for Phantom Dust, even if Microsoft's trademark filing does suggest we will see the franchise rear its head again. We might see a similar proposition to the game that Darkside Studios was working on, or another studio could step in and produce something completely different.
Given that Darkside Studios has now been off the project for almost a year, it wouldn't be all that surprising if another team has already been put on the project. We'll perhaps have to wait until E3 to see whether this trademark filing will bear fruit for the dedicated Phantom Dust faithful.
Phantom Dust has no confirmed release date at this time.