In a 2020 email, which emerged due to a serious leak related to the lawsuit between Microsoft and the FTC, Phil Spencer spoke with Chris Capossela and Takeshi Numoto about whether a possible acquisition Of Nintendo it would represent an incredible moment in his career.
You will remember that Microsoft tried to buy Nintendo in 1999, literally getting loud laughter in response, but it is clear that the situation has changed a lot since then and Spencer’s words from this point of view outline a precise, long-term strategy.
“Takeshi, I absolutely agree that Nintendo is our main asset when it comes to gaming and that today gaming represents probably the best path to becoming relevant in the eyes of consumers”, wrote the head of Xbox.
“I have had numerous conversations with the CEO of Nintendo regarding one closer collaboration and I think if a U.S. company can have a chance with them, we’re probably the ones in the best position.”
“Bad luck (luck, in their case) is that Nintendo is literally sitting on a huge pile of moneyso much so that its board of directors until recently did not push for a further increase in market growth or share value.”
“I say ‘until recently’ because our former Microsoft board member, ValueAct, is buying Nintendo shares massively and I maintained contact with Mason Morfit throughout his acquisitions. He is likely to push for even more shares, which could create opportunities for us.”
“Without this catalyst, in fact, I don’t see the possibility of a near-term merger between Nintendo and Microsoft, and I don’t think hostile action would be a good move, so we are working in the long term. However, our Board of Directors saw the entire documentation on Nintendo (and Valve), and like me it is fully in favor of an acquisition where the opportunity presents itself.”
ZeniMax and Warner Bros.
“I can tell you confidentially that we are discussing the acquisition of two companies that are quite active in the gaming market at the moment, Warner Brothers Interactive and ZeniMax. I brought ZeniMax to the board of directors last week, and before addressing the issue I asked Emy and Satya if they wanted me to slow down, but they both gave me an emphatic ‘no’.”
“They’re fine with doing all three if the deals make sense. I’m not going to say Warner Bros. or ZeniMax are Nintendo, but both are for sale and we can buy them if things line up. The biggest obstacle at WB is IP ownership, as we won’t own any and this affects long-term flexibility, while for ZeniMax we have to deal with the valuation expectations of the company’s founders.”
“But I think it’s likely that one or both of those things will happen, which will help us continue to double our relevance in gaming. To give you an idea of the scale, ZeniMax is as large as our current group of first party studiosso it would double our content catalog.”
“The downside is that this is a more central, less broad, non-mobile, more North American/European business, etc. Either way, I appreciate this discussion and the fact that you have considered these opportunities.”
“At some point, the acquisition of Nintendo would represent a career-defining moment and I honestly believe it would be a good move for both companies. Except it’s taking Nintendo a long time to realize that its future exists beyond hardware. A lot of time. :-)”