Dive into Xbox’s strategic approach to acquisitions, revealed through legal documents amid the FTC trial. Learn about their targets like Sega, Bungie, and more.
What could be more exciting than a secret strategy, you might ask? Well, how about Xbox’s acquisition blueprint recently revealed during the ongoing FTC trial against its proposed purchase of Activision Blizzard? Indeed, as the trial took a pause, a surge of intriguing evidence flooded the internet, revealing the companies Xbox has been eyeing. And one name stands out among the rest: Sega.
Internal emails revealed that Microsoft considered acquiring Sega and Bungie for Xbox Game Pass pic.twitter.com/wO9uqYzH3g
— Dexerto (@Dexerto) June 26, 2023
An internal Xbox document, marked as evidence, uncovers the acquisition strategy from back in May 2021. It clearly marks out a wish list, aiming to bridge content voids in mobile development. The focus was on acquiring “franchises with strong communities and deep engagement,” and those that offer “casual, social, and cross-generational franchises.”
Starting with a list of 100 prospective developers, Xbox managed to whittle it down to eight key candidates: Thunderful, Supergiant Games, Niantic, Playrix, Zynga, Bungie, IO Interactive, and Scopely. Notable mentions that narrowly missed the cut include Housemarque (acquired by Sony in 2021), Behaviour Interactive, Remedy Entertainment, Larian Studios, Rebellion Developments, and Paradox Interactive.
One company that Xbox seemed extraordinarily keen on was Sega. Emails tendered in evidence show Xbox head Phil Spencer approaching Microsoft CFO Amy Hood and CEO Satya Nadella, seeking their green light to start talks with Sega for acquiring its gaming studios. The content-rich, globally appealing portfolio of Sega was believed to boost Xbox Game Pass’s reach, both on and off-console. “Game on,” was the straightforward response from Microsoft GM David Hampton.
Despite the email dating back to November 2020, the exact developments on Spencer’s plan to onboard Sega remain shrouded in mystery. From Xbox’s detailed review, it appears that potential hurdles included investment from Nexon in Sega and the complexities of Sega’s other business arms. Still, Sega’s PC-centric content and popular franchises such as Sonic were seen as major attractions.
The insightful presentation included an in-depth analysis of 17 companies (plus a fully redacted 18th) that Xbox was earnestly contemplating, discussing their upcoming projects, associated risks, and other noteworthy information. Some fascinating insights include mentions of Bungie’s elusive “Matter” IP and a potential confirmation that IO’s new fantasy shooter is the much-talked-about “Project Dragon,” aimed at Xbox and PC.
As the trial unfolds day by day, we continue to uncover hidden layers of Xbox’s ambitious strategy. Be sure to check out our daily roundups right here for all the happenings in the FTC v. Microsoft trial. You can also catch up on our thorough analysis of the trial’s opening days before it reconvenes tomorrow. Stay tuned for more exciting updates!
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