A decade after releasing Phantom Dust for the original Xbox, Microsoft has filed for a new trademark on the game's title in Europe, possibly signaling the company's intention to reboot the series as previously rumored.
The trademark (as first reported by Gaming Everything) was filed for just yesterday by Microsoft and falls into the "game software" and "entertainment services, namely, providing an online computer game" categories.
Microsoft still owns a trademark on the name in the United States even though it was Majesco that published Phantom Dust here in 2005. Originally published by Microsoft in Japan the year prior, it was developed by Microsoft Game Studios and directed by Yukio Futatsugi, the director of Sega Saturn classic Panzer Dragoon and, more recently, Xbox One launch game Crimson Dragon. A sort of hybrid of card games and shooters, it earned an 8.5 in GameSpot's review at the time.
Futatsugi has expressed interest in reviving the series in the past, telling USGamer last June, "I've been really interested in how the Kickstarter movement has been going, and I think it would be great if it actually stays part of the industry. The reason why I looked into Kickstarter is because I wanted to Kickstart a Phantom Dust game."
While Kickstarter has shown itself to be a viable avenue for funding cult classics--just look at Harmonix with Amplitude--the site's restrictions on where a project must be based out of would have made it difficult to leverage for the Japan-based Futatsugi. However, he may have found a different approach for getting a new Phantom Dust funded as Crimson Dragon's development concluded.
Late last year, now-Head of Xbox Phil Spencer told Kotaku that discussions had taken place about the possibility of rebooting Phantom Dust. "We're talking to [Futatsugi] about what we might want to do next with him," Spencer said. "There's some interest out there in some older [intellectual property]. Phantom Dust has come up around whether we would want to reboot that franchise. It's a discussion right now; there's nothing's signed. But we're talking. It does seem like there's a lot of interest around that. And we have a good long relationship with him and I think that would be good."
A trademark registration on its own is no guarantee that anything is in the works. But with E3 just a few weeks away, it's entirely possible a new Phantom Dust project will be among the titles Microsoft plans to reveal during its press conference.
What are you hoping comes of this Phantom Dust trademark application? An HD remake? A sequel? Let us know in the comments below.