Xbox head Phil Spencer at one point considered acquiring Nintendo and Warner Bros. Interactive


Xbox has made notable acquisitions this generation, including its $7.5 billion purchase of ZeniMax Media and its massive $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard. Xbox and Microsoft have been working in the courts this year to legally approve Activision’s purchase of Blizzard, and many documents were kept from the public and press during those proceedings. However, various unseen documents from those court proceedings have been leaked. An email reveals that Xbox boss Phil Spencer is at one point considering acquiring Mario maker Nintendo and Mortal Kombat 1 publisher Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment (now known as Warner Bros. Games).

Axios reporter Stephen Totillo posted, on Twitter, an August 2020 email from Spencer to Chris Caposella and Takeshi Numoto, Microsoft’s executive vice president and chief marketing officers, was leaked. In this email, Spencer discusses the Nintendo acquisition, citing the possibility of it as a “career moment” and “a great move for both companies.” Referring to Nintendo games becoming part of the Xbox ecosystem in this potential acquisition, he says it will take a long time for Nintendo to “see that their future exists with their own hardware.”

However, Spencer is skeptical about actually acquiring Nintendo, citing that the Japanese company is “sitting on a big pile of cash.” He notes that without a stock buyback-related catalyst, he “doesn’t see a near-term angle of a mutually agreeable merger between Nintendo and (Microsoft).” They don’t think countermeasures are the best course of action, so Microsoft is “playing the long game.”

In the same email, Spencer talks about potential acquisitions of Bethesda’s former company ZeniMax Media, which Xbox ended up buying in 2021, and Warner Bros. Interactive, the publisher responsible for this year’s Hogwarts Legacy and this week’s Mortal Kombat 1. .

“Confidentially, we have two fairly active M&A discussions in gaming right now,” Spencer writes in an email. “Warner Bros. Interactive and Zenimax (…) I wouldn’t say WB or Zeni Nintendo but they’re both for sale and things can get from us if they align.”

Spencer then explains that the biggest hurdle with Warner Bros. Interactive is IP ownership, with Xbox owning no IP even after a potential acquisition, which he says “hurts long-term flexibility.” The biggest hurdle with ZeniMax Media is “the valuation expectations of founders,” he says, adding that “one or both of these could happen, which will help us double our gaming relevance.”

The leaked email and other leaked documents arrive at a time when Microsoft is still working to get the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority regulatory agency on its $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard. You can catch them all here.

Do you think Xbox should acquire Nintendo? What about Warner Bros. Interactive? Let us know in the comments below!


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