Microsoft submitted a new internal document in the FTC federal case vs the Microsoft Activision deal. In it, they discussed the game companies they were interested in acquiring, and the companies they looked at are the stuff of legend. You can download and read the document yourself here, which was dated April 2021, but we’ll talk about the big revelations below.
We’ll talk about the big studios everyone is talking about first. Microsoft was seriously considering acquiring Sega, a onetime player in the game console market itself. This rumor had picked up steam because it had always been rumored for years.
The other company was Bungie, which is ironic in so many ways. Microsoft acquired the studio in 2000, to serve as developer of the Xbox’s marquee franchise, Halo. Bungie would then go independent in the years 2007 to last year, when they were fully acquired by PlayStation.
But these are not the only companies that Microsoft looked at. In fact, they started out by looking at the pool of studios and publishers that were doing well under Game Pass, and under Steam metrics. Factoring in their existing relationships, they came up with this list of 250+ companies, as found in page 9 of the document.
Note that some of those companies include publishers like 505 Games, Focus Entertainment, and Digital Devolve. While these publishers would not have been as big as Sega, they would also guarantee a steady stream of A and AA games that could release more frequently on Xbox.
On page 11 of the document, they rounded down the list to 17 companies, which still has some surprises. Among those surprises was Housemarque. Housemarque was acquired by PlayStation the same year they made this report. However, they have had a close relationship for over a decade, making console exclusive arcade style games like Resogun, Nex Machina, and most recently Returnal for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5.
Their broader list just boggles the mind with just how open they were with acquiring everyone possible. They were looking at major game companies like CD Projekt RED and IO Interactive, Japanese companies like FromSoftware and Level-5, and even Minecraft’s big competitor Roblox Studios.
Missing in the document is Activision Blizzard King themselves. Microsoft did not know that the company was up for acquisition at all.
But when Microsoft received word that Sony was about to sign Starfield as a PlayStation exclusive, the company took decisive action, to bring us to where we are today.