A genuinely dystopian email sent by Xbox chief Phil Spencer in mid-2020 reveals that the company was eyeing up Warner Bros Interactive in addition to Bethesda as a potential acquisition. Even more concerningly, the executive talks about buying out Nintendo as a “career moment” and “good for both companies” – and there are even suggestions the Redmond firm may have also been interested in Valve as well.
The flagrant casualness of the unprecedented corporate consolidation is startling to read, as Spencer cautions “hostile action” in attempting to acquire Nintendo would be a bad move, but that it’s “playing the long game”. He added: “It’s taking a long time [for Nintendo] to see that their future exists off their own hardware. A long time…” He even added a smiling emoji at the end of the exchange, just to make it seem all the more sinister.
There had been rumours that Microsoft was looking to acquire Warner Bros Interactive at one point, and Spencer says that the company would have been “gettable”. However, he does note that “we wouldn’t own any of the IP which hurts long-term flexibility”. Most of the developers under Warner Bros Interactive’s umbrella work on franchises like Batman, Harry Potter, and so on – thus the studios alone don’t hold much value without the associated brands.
While the email is over three years old now, it gives a frightening insight into Microsoft’s blasé attitude to acquisitions, and its overall aims and objectives. While its eventual shift to snap up Activision Blizzard may have altered its plans, we can infer a lot about the Redmond firm’s mindset from this leaked exchange – it seems it will not stop until its gobbled up as much of the industry as possible, and it even sees juggernauts like Nintendo as eventual targets.