Phil Spencer discussed Xbox acquiring Nintendo or Warner Bros. Games in 2020 email [UPDATED]

Spencer said that acquiring Nintendo would be a 'career moment' for him, and good for both companies.


Updated on September 19, 2023 at 1:52 p.m. PT: Phil Spencer tweeted the following statement on the Xbox leaks:

Arguably the largest leak in Xbox history happened last night after documents relating to the FTC trial were unredacted. Among the leaks were details about an upcoming console and controller refresh for the Xbox Series X, and multiple unannounced titles in development under Bethesda’s umbrella. There was also an email penned by Phil Spencer in which he discussed the idea of Microsoft acquiring Nintendo or Warner Bros. Games.

The Phil Spencer email popped up on ResetEra late last night as a slew of Microsoft documents were leaked. Written to Microsoft Chief Marketing Officer Chris Capossela and Executive VP Takeshi Numoto, the email focuses on three acquisition candidates for Microsoft: Nintendo, WB Games, and ZeniMax/Bethesda. The latter of which was acquired and announced roughly a month after the date of the email.

The leaked email from Phil Spencer.

Source: Microsoft

In the email, Xbox boss Phil Spencer describes Nintendo as “the prime asset” for the company in relation to its gaming business. He goes on to say that he’s discussed having more collaborations with Nintendo directly and that he feels Microsoft is the best-suited company in the US to pair with The Big N. Spencer admits that he doesn’t imagine a situation where Nintendo agrees to acquisition terms any time soon, and that Microsoft is playing the long game on that front.

As for Warner Bros. Games, one of the major roadblocks in that deal was the fact that Microsoft wouldn’t retain the publisher’s most valuable IP. Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, etc. likely would have stayed with Warner Bros. proper.

We know that this story ended with Microsoft acquiring Bethesda, but it’s fascinating to know that the company had serious interest in acquiring Nintendo instead. The FTC leaks also revealed a number of unannounced projects from Bethesda Softworks studios, including Doom Year Zero and Dishonored 3.

News Editor

Donovan is a young journalist from Maryland, who likes to game. His oldest gaming memory is playing Pajama Sam on his mom's desktop during weekends. Pokémon Emerald, Halo 2, and the original Star Wars Battlefront 2 were some of the most influential titles in awakening his love for video games. After interning for Shacknews throughout college, Donovan graduated from Bowie State University in 2020 with a major in broadcast journalism and joined the team full-time. He is a huge Scream nerd and film fanatic that will talk with you about movies and games all day. You can follow him on twitter @Donimals_

From The Chatty
  • reply
    September 19, 2023 7:15 AM

    Donovan Erskine posted a new article, Phil Spencer discussed Xbox acquiring Nintendo or Warner Bros. Games in 2020 email

    • reply
      September 19, 2023 10:19 AM

      I can’t see a world where Nintendo willingly sells itself.

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        September 19, 2023 10:42 AM

        There's no way the japanese government would ever approve that

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          September 19, 2023 7:17 PM

          Let's pray that is they case and nothing changes that. Honestly the only issue Nintendo has in weak console hardware(the internals: GPU, CPU, amount of memory, storage, etc, that sort of stuff), if they ever changed that mentality they would be untouchable.

          Anyways I hope they stay independent forever, the only thing I love them to do is release PC ports, if they did it be perfect!

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            September 20, 2023 12:48 AM

            Everything you mentioned is an advantage not a weakness. If you can sell your system for a profit, at a lower price than competitors, and your games cost less to develop because they require simpler assets, and you still outsell the competition you have a good thing going on.

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      September 19, 2023 7:14 PM

      I am going to keep it real, I think I am starting to hate Phil Spencer.

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        September 19, 2023 10:19 PM

        Why, because he is a business man doing what a good business man should do? Exploring all options? It’s what ms pays home to do.

        Seems like a crap reason to hate him.

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          September 20, 2023 12:20 AM

          A CEO doing what's good for business isn't a very defensible position nowadays. As gamers we should care more about what's good for gamers and gaming in general.

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            September 20, 2023 12:42 AM

            100% this, it would be horrible is MS ever bought Nintendo and would be very bad for the good for gamers and gaming in general(if not totally catastrophic for the whole industry). I could care less if Phil has his picture on the wall for employee of the month and really that should be the last thing any of us are concerned about.

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          September 20, 2023 12:38 AM

          I will start off by saying I am probably one of the biggest MS fans on this site(you can look at my logs). After reading the email -> what is there to like or respect about that type of mentality? To each their own I guess but for me personally I don't respect that way of doing business, there are better options.

          Instead of a hostile take over I would rather see him try and get Nintendo's blessing to release certain games on the PC and Xbox. The lack of respect toward Nintendo is just odd to me and especially at that level within MS. To me a good business man does not focus 100% on bottom lines and does anything to get there, that mentality will ruin any company in the long run.

          Having said that, let's not pretend Phil is righteous, his goal is literally cloud gaming and Game Pass conversion. If you are a Xbox fan how can you respect or love him for that?

          Do you actually think he is doing a good job and his long term vision is good or healthy? What are your thoughts on his stance at saying "there is no need for a mid-generation refresh" and then we get the slides leaked today and there is a mid-generation refresh? Or what about snuffing off the PS5 Pro and saying that the current XBSX has a lot of head room with "There's a bunch of things that go into what makes a game look and feel great. And we have a ton of headroom as an industry there." yet all the new games on the XBSX that are AAA are locked at 30 FPS at dynamic 4K and struggling? Just look at Starfield on the XBSX. Won't even bring up the XBSS into the equation. There is a lot to be upset about if you are a Xbox fan.

          Then you have the whole comment he made that if Game Pass Subscribers don't increase at a certain percentage for his projected targets MS may exist from the gaming business all together. Who can respect or like him for that comment and leadership if that is his stance, that is pretty much a KO? Also I won't even bring up the Redfall interview. If your mandate is to put all your eggs and insight on the success of one thing and it is Game Pass... I don't really have to say anything else, it is what it is and who would like him for that?

          Anyways, that is how I feel and I am genuinely concerned for XBox's future and I wish it was not so. Basically there are a lot of reason to not like him and that email is only one of them.

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          September 20, 2023 1:03 AM

          Microsoft is incapable of building a viable entertainment business so their path is to buy an entire industry instead.

          Its what a businessman with trillions in capital at his back can do, which is rational for someone in his position but it is by no means respectable.

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      September 19, 2023 9:28 PM

      Pfft. Yeah. That isn't happening...ever.

      I dont even know if Japan would tolerate Sony acquiring Nintendo let alone a foreign competitor.

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      September 19, 2023 11:13 PM

      That email is just corpo speak "keep up the good work, but no". You don't buy Bethesa and Activision without looking at hypothetical situations for every other gaming company that exists.

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        September 19, 2023 11:34 PM

        good guy Phil

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          September 20, 2023 12:22 AM

          It's an interesting email to leak, but I don't really get the story here, does anyone actually think from that exchange that MS was trying to buy Nintendo?

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