Microsoft Considered Buying Nintendo at One Point, Court Documents Reveal; Unannounced Bethesda Games Leaked


Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer considered buying Nintendo at one point, a leaked 2020 email revealed. Multiple documents from Microsoft’s trial with the US FTC were leaked Tuesday, with one showing a casual discussion about buying the Mario maker, where Spencer called it a “career moment” and implied that a collaboration would be a ‘good move’ for either company. It’s worth highlighting that this conversation happened in August 2020, before Microsoft acquired Bethesda’s parent company ZeniMax Media for $7.5 billion (about Rs. 62,431 crore). The leaks also disclosed Bethesda’s release schedule, alongside details for Microsoft’s planned mid-generation console refresh.

“I’ve had numerous conversations with the LT of Nintendo about tighter collaboration and feel like if any US company would have a chance with Nintendo, we are probably in the best position,” Spencer responded to Microsoft executives Chris Capossela and Takeshi Numoto in the email (via The Verge). He then went on to list some hurdles in the acquisition, starting with Nintendo happily sitting on a ‘big pile of cash,’ which makes any hostile buyout moves futile. He claimed that it’s taking a long time for Nintendo to realise that their games would flourish better if they weren’t just exclusive to their own platform. In the same email, Spencer also touched upon acquiring Valve Corporation — whose president Gabe Newell previously worked at Microsoft — noting that Microsoft’s board of directors would be fully supportive if some positive actions arise.

In addition to ZeniMax, it would seem that Microsoft was actively engaged in buyout discussions with Warner Bros. Interactive, which published Hogwarts Legacy, earlier this year. However, that interaction raised issues about IP ownership — as in, Microsoft wouldn’t hold the rights to DC Comics characters and such, in turn hurting “long-term flexibility.” Meanwhile, with ZeniMax, the issue was more money-based, in the sense of what its founders were expecting from the acquisition.

The leaked documents also revealed a list of unannounced Bethesda games, which include remasters for Fallout 3 and the Cyrodiil-set open-world RPG The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. The chart of planned titles was put together in July 2020, and as such, there are several changes in the launch timelines. The Oblivion remaster was originally slated to release in 2022, but the only update we’ve heard so far stemmed from a rumour claiming that Virtuous Games was working on it. That studio is currently co-developing the Metal Gear Solid 3 remake with Konami. The Fallout 3 remaster was planned for next year, and the list obviously mentions a Starfield DLC for 2022. Of course, the game got delayed and so the timelines drastically differ now.

According to the chart, the long-gestating Elder Scrolls VI was initially eyeing a 2024 launch. But it just recently entered the early development phase and isn’t expected to release until 2026 on PC and Xbox. Other major releases on the horizon include the Indiana Jones game from MachineGames, a Ghostwire: Tokyo sequel, and Dishonored 3, marking Arkane’s return to the stealth franchise following Deathloop and the poorly-received Redfall.


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