Take-Two Interactive announced plans to buy Zynga in 2022, but Xbox boss Bill Spencer revealed that Microsoft had seriously considered buying the mobile game company before then.
During his cross-examination at today’s Microsoft FTC trial, Spencer talked about the struggles in the mobile game business, saying Xbox has “no strategy to win organically in mobile gaming.” Spencer said mobile gamers don’t want traditional Xbox console experiences, and console gamers aren’t asking for that exclusive experience on mobile.
Spencer revealed that Microsoft tried to buy Zynga to solve this problem, but the developer was bought by Take-Two for $12.7 billion. At the time, it was the largest sports company acquisition in history. Spencer admitted that Microsoft had spent “some time” on a potential Zynga acquisition, but it turned out that Microsoft wanted something bigger to start with in the mobile business.
“I have a lot of respect for the people at Zynga and what they’ve built. Ultimately, for our opportunity, we thought we needed to have something bigger than what we gave Zynga from our very small startup space in the mobile gaming business,” Spencer said.
In November 2021, Microsoft’s focus turned to the Activision Blizzard acquisition. Spencer noted that Activision is the largest publisher of mobile content outside of China, thanks to King’s existing franchises such as Candy Crush.
“I spent time with Amy Hood, the CFO [Microsoft], to see the mobile opportunities that existed in the market, and Activision was the largest publisher of mobile content. And it’s a partner we know very well, with a long history of working together, and we both feel comfortable with studios and teams. But more important is their portfolio and their commitment to mobile.
Microsoft also said Considered buying Zynga in 2010When Don Mattrick still ran the Xbox business.
Also, see everything that happened in Microsoft’s FTC trial, including how Starfield skipped Xbox entirely before Microsoft bought Bethesda.
Logan Plant is a freelance writer for IGN covering video game and entertainment news. He has over seven years of experience in the gaming industry with bylines for IGN, Nintendo Wire, Switch Player Magazine and Lifewire. Find him on Twitter @LoganJPlant.