Microsoft’s acquisitions wish list was even longer than imagined. An internal email, reportedly leaked by Microsoft itself, from 2020 said that Xbox boss Phil Spencer was interested in buying Nintendo. Spencer also mentioned Steam owner Valve, Warner Bros.’ network of video game studios and Bethesda owner Zenimax, the latter of which Microsoft has since purchased. According to the email, Microsoft’s Board of Directors is “fully supportive” of the acquiring Nintendo and/or Valve if the opportunity arises.
Microsoft and Nintendo were not immediately available for comment.
“[N]intendo is THE prime asset for us in [g]aming and today [g]aming is our most likely path to consumer relevance,” Spencer said in the email obtained by IGN.
The revelation comes amid a giant leak of emails that came out as a result of the Federal Trade Commission’s lawsuit to block Microsoft’s attempt to acquire Activision Blizzard. It’s just one of a myriad of tidbits that has come out, including hints of Nintendo’s next-generation console, an embarrassing situation for one the biggest players in the video game industry.
It was previously reported that during the Microsoft versus Federal Trade Commission trial over the tech company’s Activision Blizzard acquisition, that Spencer was also eyeing Sega and Square Enix, the creators of Sonic and Final Fantasy, respectively.
Regulators would likely have a field day if Microsoft ever attempted such a move, so don’t hold your breath for a combination. If Microsoft bought Nintendo, it would be the largest merger in gaming history. Nintendo isn’t likely to be interested. According to the email between Spencer and Microsoft’s commercial chief marketing officer, Takeshi Numoto, Nintendo is on solid financial footing and wouldn’t need to make a deal of this size, but a large stockholder could push Nintendo towards a deal. Spencer said acquiring Nintendo would be a “career moment.”
“It’s just taking a long time for Nintendo to see that their future exists off of their own hardware,” Spencer said in the email.
Nintendo’s hardware is a huge reason why the company is, as Spencer said, “sitting on a big pile of cash.” Forbes reported that the Nintendo Switch has sold 129.5 million units and is the third best-selling console in history, dwarfing Xbox One’s 58 million and the Series X/S’ 20 million.
“Without a catalyst, I don’t see an angle to a near term mutually agreeable merger of Nintendo and MS and I don’t think a hostile action would be a good move, so we are playing the long game,” Spencer told Numoto.
In addition to the email between Spencer and Numoto, a swath of leaked FTC documents have revealed that Microsoft plans to refresh its mid-gen Xbox in 2024, release a new hybrid Xbox in 2028. Bethesda’s game release schedule was also leaked which listed titles like The Elder Scrolls 6, Dishonored 3 and Doom Year Zero.