On September 19, one of the greatest leaks in gaming history hit Microsoft, revealing a tonne of secret plans for Xbox, including games in production, an updated Series X design, and possible prices for adding games to Game Pass. One particularly intriguing nugget comes from an email sent in August 2020 by Xbox CEO Phil Spencer, who claims that Nintendo is a “prime asset” and a potential acquisition target. According to The Verge, Spencer’s email was sent to Takeshi Numoto and Chris Capossela, two of Xbox’s senior marketing executives.
“Nintendo is THE primary asset for us in gaming, and gaming is currently our best chance of being relevant to consumers.
Acquiring Nintendo would be a career highlight
I’ve discussed tighter collaboration with the LT of Nintendo several times, and I believe that if any US firm were to stand a chance with Nintendo, we are likely in the greatest possible position,” added Spencer. (LT is likely an acronym for “Leadership Team.”)
According to Spencer, “Acquiring Nintendo would be a career highlight and, in my honest opinion, a smart move for both companies.”
That was an absurd idea even in 2020, but it is even more absurd in 2023 when Nintendo is more successful than ever before as a result of the ongoing success of the Switch and the outstanding box office performance of The Super Mario Bros. Movie. The email was nonetheless concluded by Spencer’s comment that “Nintendo is just taking a long time to comprehend that their future exists off of their own hardware.”
Intense scrutiny from anti-trust organizations
The Switch had already become a runaway hit by 2020, with no indications of slowing down. Yes, times have changed. Animal Crossing: New Horizons, which sold over 11 million copies in only 12 days, had recently taken the world by storm a few months prior to Spencer’s email.
The other part of this is how an acquisition of Nintendo, a firm with such a significant market share in the gaming sector, would even appear. Since Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard has come under intense scrutiny from anti-trust organizations, it is difficult to imagine any regulatory body approving the purchase of a company of such magnitude as Nintendo.
Ironically, Microsoft has approached Nintendo in the past as well. Back in 2021, Bloomberg stated that Microsoft considered using its huge financial resources to buy Nintendo right before the release of the first Xbox in 2000. In the article, Kevin Bachus, who was then Xbox’s director of third-party relations, provided a very funny summary of Nintendo’s total lack of interest:
“They simply laughed uncontrollably. Think about someone laughing at you for an hour. That’s pretty much how the meeting went.
Today, it’s quite difficult to envision how such a discussion might proceed differently.