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Microsoft’s Phil Spencer says acquiring Nintendo would be ‘a career moment’

Microsoft’s Phil Spencer says acquiring Nintendo would be ‘a career moment’


If the opportunity to buy Nintendo arose, Xbox might actually do it.

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Microsoft gaming CEO Phil Spencer.

Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer would really like to buy Nintendo someday. In an August 2020 email to two top Microsoft marketing executives, Spencer wrote that “Nintendo is THE prime asset for us in Gaming” and that “getting Nintendo would be a career moment and I honestly believe a good move for both companies.”

The emails were revealed as part of a tranche of leaked documents from the FTC v. Microsoft lawsuit. One executive, Takeshi Numoto, asked Spencer and Chris Capossela in an email titled “random thought” about why Microsoft isn’t finding acquisition targets like Nintendo a “more attractive” way to “increase our consumer exposure and relevance.” (At the time, Microsoft was in discussions to acquire TikTok, and Numoto didn’t feel it would be the best match.)

Email from Phil Spencer.
Email from Phil Spencer.
Image: FTC v. Microsoft

“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,” Spencer wrote, where “LT” is presumably shorthand for leadership team. He added that Microsoft’s board of directors “has seen the full writeup on Nintendo (and Valve) and they are fully supportive on either if opportunity arises as am I.” Spencer also shared that the company was in “fairly active M&A discussions” around ZeniMax Media (which resulted in a deal that was announced a month later) and Warner Brothers Interactive (which did not go through).

Previous documents from the case revealed that Microsoft has considered acquiring many other studios, including Bungie (now owned by Sony), Sega, and Square Enix. This most recent batch of documents leaked a new design for the Xbox Series X and some unannounced games from Bethesda.