Wow, this just never ends! In its ongoing attempts to sate the FTC — which is currently scrutinising Microsoft's $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard — the tech giant has been forced to disclose internal documents and emails, placing a spotlight on the company's behind-the-scenes planning.
Just days ago, emails revealed that Microsoft was weighing up the idea of buying SEGA's game studios and Bungie. Then, there was an email about potential plans to "spend Sony out of business". And now, we've got documents detailing "Project Phoenix", which was seeking strategic approval in 2019.
Project Phoenix would see Microsoft acquire Square Enix, in a move that would theoretically allow the company to gain ground in Japan. The documents mention three key properties — Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and Kingdom Hearts — that could be used to bolster Xbox's popularity in the region. It almost reads like fanboy fiction.
Historically, Xbox as a brand has always struggled in Japan, a country where Sony and Nintendo have dominated the market for decades. It would undoubtedly take a colossal effort to upset that status quo, but Microsoft has tried to do it before. Back in the Xbox 360 generation, it secured a number of high profile, Japanese-developed titles in a bid to wrestle appeal away from the competition. Things obviously didn't go as planned, so it's interesting that even many years later, Microsoft was seemingly willing to try and conquer Japan all over again — albeit with a much bolder approach.
The document goes on to say that, if acquired, Square Enix's games would be used to push Game Pass — as per usual. Projects would also "preference" Xbox Series X | S in terms of development.