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Microsoft and Xbox wanted to acquire their potential “Prime Asset”: Nintendo

Leaked documents show Phil Spencer discussing the possibility of purchasing the Mario maker.

Image: Xbox
Image: Xbox

Microsoft has been fighting for their lives, trying to figure out how to get past the FTC to acquire Activision Blizzard. But, every so often, we get a glimpse into the minds heading the company behind Windows Vista and Halo 5.

Phil Spencer, the head honcho over at Xbox, is pretty forthcoming with information, generally. But, everyone has secrets.

Court documents have been a real problem when it comes to the court case that the FTC has brought upon Microsoft. This time around, some unredacted papers and emails from 2020 have shined a light on some interesting considerations.

You see, Phil Spencer wanted Microsoft to purchase Nintendo, among other things. While that might sound like a wacky scenario, Microsoft has been working much closer with the Japanese-based company for quite a few projects over the last several years.

In an email thread with Takeshi Numoto, screenshotted below by IGN, executive vice president and chief commercial officer at Microsoft, Spencer was discussing the ideas of bigger, popular companies they could possibly acquire. Starting with Tiktok, Numoto mentioned Super Mario’s parent company.

Image: FTC v. Microsoft / Phil Spencer email / Screenshot by IGN
Image: FTC v. Microsoft / Phil Spencer email / Screenshot by IGN

“Takeshi, I totally agree that Nintendo is THE prime asset for us in gaming, and today gaming is our most likely path to consumer relevance,” Spencer explained.

It’s no surprise that the idea came up. They go on further to explain that Nintendo would help keep them relevant.

One thing that Xbox has argued during the FTC trial is that they’re losing the console wars. When compared to Sony and Nintendo, they claim that they’ve always been in last place in terms of relevance and popularity.

He commented about their collabs and intent to work together much more. “I’ve had numerous conversations [with Nintendo] about tighter collaboration and feel like if any US company would have a chance with Nintendo we are probably in the best position.”

While Nintendo has been around for over 130 years in various forms, Spencer looked at it as an untapped market. He said this would be a “career move”.

“The unfortunate (or fortunate for Nintendo) situation is that Nintendo,” he continued, “is sitting on a big pile of cash, they have a [Board of Directors] that until recently has not pushed for further increases in market growth or stock appreciation.”

During the conversation, Spencer also mentions that a ”full writeup” about both Nintendo and Valve. The fact that Xbox wanted to purchase Valve from Gabe “Lord Gaben” Newell seems significant as well. In that scenario, Microsoft would essentially have a monopoly on the entire PC market of games, between their already successful PC Game Pass and Steam.

As we all know, this never came to be. But, there’s an alternate reality somewhere in the vast multiverse where the Xbox Switch exists, instead of the Activision Blizzard acquisition. And Halo would be on it.

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