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Xbox boss Phil Spencer believed a merger with Nintendo would have been his ‘career moment’

Xbox boss Phil Spencer believed a merger with Nintendo would have been his ‘career moment’


Microsoft Gaming boss Phil Spencer wanted to acquire Nintendo so badly that he considered it a “career moment.” One of the leaked documents from the FTC case against Microsoft was an email that Spencer sent to the company’s marketing directors, Chris Capossela and Takeshi Numoto, in 2020. The executive talked about how Nintendo was the tech giant’s main asset in the games, which is Microsoft’s best bet for consumer relevance. He was confident that if there was an American company capable of acquiring Nintendo, it would be Microsoft. However, Nintendo apparently had a “big pile of cash” that made it unlikely to look for buyers.

Spencer added that Nintendo had a board of directors that had not pushed for increased market growth in a long time. However, he explained that could change in the future, as one of Microsoft’s board members, investment company ValueAct Capital, had been “heavily acquiring” Nintendo stock and had “fully supported” an acquisition. if the opportunity arose.

Microsoft has a long history of trying to acquire the Japanese gaming giant. When Bloomberg published an in-depth oral account of how the Xbox came to be for its 20th anniversary in 2021, it was revealed that the company asked Nintendo if it was willing to be acquired, and was laughed out of the room. “They just laughed out loud,” said Xbox co-creator Kevin Bachus. “Imagine an hour when someone just laughs at you. That’s what that meeting went like.” Microsoft also reportedly asked Nintendo to let it handle hardware so it could focus on gaming, but ultimately failed to convince the company to pursue a merger.

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In Spencer’s letter, he said that “Nintendo was taking a long time to see that its future exists on its own hardware.” And then he ended it with a smiling face that seemed to indicate that he was willing to play the long game, although it’s unclear if he still plans to make another merger attempt. Microsoft’s legal battle against the Federal Trade Commission will decide the outcome of its $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard. The company announced the massive purchase in early 2022, but the FTC sued to block the merger, which the agency said could harm competition in the gaming market.

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