During the Microsoft versus Federal Trade Commission (FTC) trial, it was revealed that Xbox boss Phil Spencer had shown interest in acquiring various high-profile companies, including Nintendo. In an email accidentally made public as part of trial documents, Spencer expressed enthusiasm about the prospect of buying Nintendo, stating that it would be a significant career moment. He also discussed his interest in other gaming companies such as Sega, Square Enix, Valve, and Warner Bros.
In the email sent in August 2020, Spencer emphasized Nintendo’s importance as a prime asset in the gaming industry, noting that gaming was the most likely path to consumer relevance. He mentioned having conversations with Nintendo’s LT (leadership team) about closer collaboration and believed that Microsoft was in the best position among US companies to have a chance with Nintendo.
However, Spencer recognized several obstacles to a potential merger, including Nintendo’s lack of interest in selling the company. Nintendo was financially stable and satisfied with its current position, making a buyout unlikely in the short term. Spencer acknowledged that a hostile action would not be a wise move and stated that they were playing the long game.
Spencer also mentioned Valve as another potential opportunity for acquisition. While Microsoft pursued active discussions to acquire Warner Bros. Interactive and ZeniMax at the time, buying Warner Bros. posed challenges as it did not include ownership of valuable intellectual property, such as DC superheroes. Nevertheless, Microsoft eventually successfully acquired ZeniMax for $7.5 billion in a deal that was completed a year later.
Spencer concluded his email by reiterating that acquiring Nintendo would be a career milestone and a mutually beneficial move for both companies. However, it seems unlikely that Nintendo would consider selling unless faced with significant financial difficulties. Nonetheless, Spencer remains committed to pursuing the long-term goal.