Since Microsoft announced its plans to acquire Activision Blizzard, the publisher of Call of Duty and Overwatch, for $68.7 billion, it’s been grappling with legislators around the world to gain permission to close that deal.
Currently, the company is facing scrutiny from the American Federal Trade Commission in court, with the proceedings having already revealed some interesting behind-the-scenes information about Microsoft and Activision, as well as PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan’s thoughts on Starfield’s exclusivity.
Yesterday’s court session was equally eye-opening, with one of the biggest bombshells to come out of it being that Microsoft once considered acquiring Square Enix.
Do these freshly revealed plans from Microsoft surprise you?
As reported by The Verge, during day four of the Microsoft/FTC hearings, some new internal documents released to the court revealed that, back in 2019, Microsoft deliberated attempting to add Square Enix to Xbox’s portfolio of studios and publishers.
While it wasn’t made clear how far these discussions got, the documents did reveal that Phil Spencer gave some feedback to the internal proposal at some juncture, suggesting that the idea definitely got beyond the stage of being a simple pipe dream.
In terms of what a deal might have meant for the Final Fantasy publisher, the version of it proposed in the documents would have kept Square Enix’s established titles on all of the platforms they’d already been announced for, while future games would launch on Xbox Game Pass on day one and “preference” the Xbox Series X|S.
When it comes to the reasoning behind Microsoft's desire to make such a deal, the documents cite the desire to boost the general appeal of Game Pass, strengthen Xbox’s presence in Asia, and possibly fuel an expansion of Game Pass into the mobile gaming sector.
Given that some other documents released earlier in the trial shared details about Microsoft considering the acquisition of several studios including Sega, Bungie, and IO Interactive, it’s fair to say the company has had expansion on its priority list for a good few years.
As proceedings between it and the FTC continue, it’s important to remember that July 18, 2023, the date that would see Microsoft and Activision Blizzard forced to enter proceedings to renegotiate the terms of the deal in order to extend the deadline for it going through, is fast approaching.
If the preliminary injunction is granted, the FTC will be able to bring about a separate legal challenge to the deal, currently timetabled for August 2, before it closes.
Regardless of what you think of this titanic legal tussle, make sure to check out our coverage of reveals from it which involve the Call of Duty series, as well as our array of guides to the latest developments in Warzone and Modern Warfare 2, with Season 4 having recently kicked off in the latter.