Xbox boss Phil Spencer has claimed Microsoft was heavily considering the purchase of mobile games company Zynga before it was acquired by Take-Two in 2022. The move would have been part of a major push into mobile games for Microsoft, which remains a minor player in the steadily-growing market.
Spencer admitted this was the motivation behind company plans to purchase Zynga, and ongoing plans to acquire Activision Blizzard. Xbox had ‘no strategy to win organically in mobile gaming’ according to Spencer, and struggled to find a path forward as Xbox players didn’t want mobile experiences, and mobile players didn’t want console experiences.
Per reporting from IGN, Spencer claimed Microsoft had spent ‘quite a bit of time’ working on a Zynga acquisition before it was off the table – but eventually, the company realised it needed something ‘even bigger’ to get a head start in the mobile market.
‘I have a lot of respect for the people at Zynga and what they’ve built. In the end, for our opportunity, we thought we needed to have something that was even bigger than what Zynga was, given our very small starting space in the mobile gaming business,’ Spencer reportedly told the FTC.
This need to pursue a larger entity led the company to Activision Blizzard, as it had been making great strides into the mobile games space via its subsidiary, King (Candy Crush). Microsoft has particularly interested in Activision’s capacity as one of the largest mobile game publishers outside of China.
Spencer reportedly spent time with Microsoft CFO Amy Good, discussing the mobile opportunities presented by Activision Blizzard, and how its portfolio could transform Microsoft. This was reportedly the primary motivator for Microsoft’s purchase of Activision Blizzard – as was originally detailed by Spencer in interviews leading up to the CMA investigation of the merger.
As the FTC investigation continues, it’s likely Microsoft will continue detailing its ambitions in the mobile games space, as a means to justify its planned acquisition and provide alternative discourse around the investigation, which has so far focussed on the company’s capacity to make upcoming blockbuster games exclusive to Xbox and PC.