Updated Sep 19, 2023 - Technology

Leak: Microsoft board supported buying Nintendo

New Super Mario Bros. U. Screenshot: Nintendo

Microsoft's board of directors was "fully supportive" of a potential purchase of Nintendo if the opportunity arose, according to a newly leaked email from the company's head of gaming.

Why it matters: The merger would be the largest in gaming history, but Nintendo would have to be a willing participant.

  • As of summer 2020, it was not, according to the email from Microsoft executive, Phil Spencer.
  • The company did not respond on Tuesday morning to Axios' request for comment on the leaks.

Details: In an August 2020 email to Takeshi Numoto, Microsoft's commercial chief marketing officer, Spencer pondered the possibility of Microsoft buying Nintendo.

  • Spencer noted that Nintendo was sitting on enough cash that it didn't have to make many deals. He said a large stockholder might push Nintendo toward dramatic business deals.
  • "Without that catalyst, I don't see an angle to a near term mutually agreeable merger of Nintendo and MS and I don't think a hostile action would be a good move, so we are playing the long game."
  • Spencer wrote that Microsoft's board is "fully supportive" of a bid for Nintendo or PC powerhouse Valve.

Zoom in: The Spencer email was included, possibly by accident, as part of a trove of exhibits uploaded to the website of the U.S. District Court of Northern California as part of the Federal Trade Commission's lawsuit to block Microsoft's $69 billion bid for Activision Blizzard.

The bottom line: As of 2020, Spencer still held out hope that the merger could happen someday.

  • "At some point, getting Nintendo would be a career moment, and I honestly believe a good move for both companies," Spencer said. "It's just taking a long time for Nintendo to see that their future exists off their own hardware."

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