You are probably aware that Microsoft has been leading a buyout race for several years. Thanks to studios like Obsidian, Undead Labs, Playground Games and Double Fine, and even publishers like Bethesda and perhaps soon Activision Blizzard King, Xbox is seeking to consolidate its catalog of games and make Xbox Game Pass even more attractive. We learned today through a leaked email that the company is interested in Nintendo, Valve, Warner Bros Interactive, and even TikTok!
Microsoft sought to buy Nintendo, Valve, Warner Bros Interactive and TikTok
Indeed, this information is confirmed through a 2020 email sent by Phil Spencer, head of Xbox, to Chris Capossela, vice president and director of marketing at Xbox, and Takeshi Numoto, executive vice president and director commercial marketing at Microsoft. In this email, Phil Spencer discusses the difficulty of acquiring Nintendo and the possible levers to carry out such an operation.
He’s likely to push for more of the Nintendo stock, which could create opportunities for us. Without this catalyst, I don’t see an angle for a mutually acceptable near-term merger between Nintendo and MS and I don’t think hostile action would be a good thing, so we’re playing the long game. […] At some point acquiring Nintendo would be a career moment and I honestly think it would be a good thing for both companies.
Then mentioning Microsoft’s board of directors, he also discusses a prepared article about the desire to acquire Valve, the company behind Steam.
But our board has seen the article about Nintendo (and Valve) and is very much in favor of either if the opportunity presents itself, as I am.
Finally, we learn through this same email that Xbox is interested in Warner Bros. Interractive, but that the company would unfortunately not hold the intellectual properties in the event of a takeover. This same paragraph reveals that the American giant also looked into the case of TikTok.
Confidentially, we have two fairly active M&A discussions in the gaming industry, Warner Brothers Interactive and ZeniMax. I presented ZeniMax to the board last week, and before the discussion I asked Amy and Satya if they wanted me to slow down either or both of these operations, considering held discussions on TikKTok, and they both answered me in the negative. They won’t say WB or Zeni is Nintendo, but both are for sale and can be purchased by us if things line up. The biggest obstacle for WB is IP ownership, we would not own any IP, which hurts long term flexibility, and the only obstacle for Zeni is evaluating the founders’ expectations.
This exchange still dates from August 2020, but it is very interesting to see that Microsoft is interested in companies with very different skills. It’s highly likely that we won’t officially hear about another buyout until the Activion Blizzard King buyout closes.