Microsoft considered purchasing Sega and Bungie to expand Xbox content offerings.
Microsoft may now have their sights on Activision Blizzard, but according to recent news reports they had previously considered purchasing multiple game developers such as Sega and Bungie instead.
Last year has brought forth many juicy details regarding Microsoft, Xbox and the games industry overall thanks to scrutiny surrounding Activision buyout proposal. Regulators have attempted to determine whether going ahead would give Microsoft an unfair market advantage and, given that UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) blocked it earlier this year and Federal Trade Commission of U.S. has since sought temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction orders against it, things haven’t exactly gone to plan for Microsoft thus far.
Microsoft and the FTC have been engaged in court battle over its proposed Activision acquisition for some time, with an interesting document coming to light as part of evidence during that trial. Reported by IGN, this document details Microsoft’s acquisition strategy as of May 2021 – eight months prior to Activision being acquired – suggesting they considered purchasing around 100 developers (franchises with strong communities and deep engagement as well as casual, social and cross-generational franchises) prior to choosing its top eight (Sega, Bungie Supergiant Games, IO Interactive and Niantic).
Additionally, Xbox boss Phil Spencer appears particularly intrigued with Sega. According to emails dating back to November 2020, Phil approached both Microsoft chief financial officer Amy Hood and CEO Satya Nadella requesting approval to approach Sega and potentially acquire its gaming studios. Phil wrote in one such email “we believe Sega offers an attractive portfolio with global appeal that would support Xbox Game Pass both on and offline console platforms”.
Sony acquired Bungie last year, so Microsoft is unlikely to acquire it in the near future. Irrespective, Microsoft could still possibly have interest in any other of the developers listed – I think everyone might just be preoccupied with dealing with Activision for now?