Microsoft has expressed interest in acquiring Nintendo at some stage, believing that the Mario maker’s future “exists off of its own hardware”.
In recently leaked documents connected to the legal dispute between the FTC and Microsoft, it has come to light that the tech giant has been exploring the possibility of acquiring Nintendo since 2020. Phil Spencer, CEO of Microsoft Gaming, regards such an acquisition as a significant career milestone and believes it would be mutually beneficial for both companies.
In an email that appears to have been inadvertently disclosed as part of a trial document made available online, Phil Spencer expressed his enthusiasm for the idea of acquiring the company behind Mario, stating that it “would represent a pivotal moment in his career.” IGN has reached out to Microsoft for their response.
This email, dated August 2020 and predating Microsoft’s acquisition of ZeniMax, also sheds light on Spencer’s interest in other potential acquisitions, such as Valve, the owner of Steam, as well as Warner Bros.’ portfolio of video game studios, including NetherRealm, known for Mortal Kombat, and Rocksteady, the developer behind Batman Arkham and other titles, among others.
“Nintendo is THE prime asset for us in gaming and today gaming is our most likely path to consumer relevance,” Spencer wrote in the email.
“I’ve had numerous conversations with the LT of Nintendo about tighter collaboration and feel like if any US company would have a chance with Nintendo we are probably in the best position.”
However, Spencer outlined several obstacles to the merger, notably the fact that Nintendo appeared uninterested in selling. He noted that Nintendo was financially strong, sitting on a substantial cash reserve, and appeared content with its current position. Consequently, he couldn’t identify a feasible approach for an immediate buyout, stating that a hostile takeover would not be a wise move. Spencer remarked, “I don’t think a hostile action would be a good move… so we are playing the long game.”
Spencer also mentioned Valve as a potential opportunity. Valve was privately owned, with Gabe Newell, a former Microsoft employee, serving as president and holding an estimated ownership stake of at least 25% in the company. However, it seems that this avenue did not progress.
At the time of this email in August 2020, Microsoft was actively engaged in discussions to acquire Warner Bros. Interactive and ZeniMax. Spencer pointed out a challenge with acquiring Warner Bros. Interactive: Microsoft would not gain ownership of the intellectual property, such as that related to DC superheroes. He stated, “I won’t say WB or Zeni is Nintendo but both are for sale and gettable by us if things align.” It’s worth noting that the ZeniMax acquisition did eventually materialize, with a $7.5 billion deal closing a year later.
Spencer concluded his email by circling back to the idea of acquiring Nintendo: “At some point, getting Nintendo would be a career moment and I honestly believe a good move for both companies. It’s just taking a long time for Nintendo to see that their future exists off of their own hardware. A long time…”
Clearly, Spencer’s ambition to acquire Nintendo has not materialized as of now, and it seems unlikely that Nintendo would be willing to sell unless faced with a significant financial crisis. Nevertheless, Spencer acknowledges that he’s committed to playing the long-term strategy.
Microsoft finds itself entangled in what could be described as one of the most significant and damaging leaks in the history of Xbox, as FTC trial documents have exposed its intentions. These documents unveil Microsoft’s plans for a mid-generation Xbox refresh scheduled for 2024, a next-generation hybrid Xbox anticipated in 2028, and even insights into Bethesda’s release timeline. More to be updated soon.