Los Angeles – Microsoft Inc. sent waves through the video game world on Monday when it issued a cryptic announcement saying it is renewing the trademark for the classic 1990s fighter game series Killer Instinct.
“With all due respect to our friends in the media who like to frequent trademark sites, we thought we’d break this one ourselves,” a post on Microsoft’s playxbla.com, the official site for its Xbox Live Arcade, said. “Our legal eagles have authorized us to say: ‘We have either renewed or refiled a trademark application in various jurisdictions.’” The post was accompanied by the classic Killer Instinct logo.
Sure enough, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office shows a listing for the word trademark Killer Instinct filed on Microsoft’s part on Sept. 12. The trademark is registered for video game software and entertainment services providing video games online.
The trademark registration instantly sparked hopes in the gaming community that Microsoft will reboot the iconic fighting series for its Xbox 720 next-generation gaming system with a third installment of the game. Gaming websites also predicted Microsoft will reissue the original two entries in the series on XBLA.
Killer Instinct was developed by the game studio Rare and was originally put out in an arcade format, in addition to versions for Nintendo’s Super Nintendo and Game Boy gaming systems. It became highly popular quickly after its 1994 release, and inspired the arcade sequel, Killer Instinct 2, which Nintendo released in 1996. KI2 was released in a modified form for the Nintendo 64 gaming system later that year, under the name Killer Instinct Gold. Microsoft acquired Rare in 2002.
Numerous Rare executives have publicly said in recent years that while everyone at the studio would like to make Killer Instinct 3, no such game was in development. The classic fighting game model that thrived in the 1990s has ceded significant ground in popularity to the first-person shooter in the last decade. Microsoft, however, may now be hoping to cash in on a surging cultural wave of 1990s nostalgia.