Last month, leaked emails by Microsoft Gaming CEO in 2020 showed Phil Spencer thought buying Nintendo would be “THE prime asset” for the Microsoft Gaming division. He added that getting the Japanese company would be “a career moment” and a “good move for both companies.”
These emails were part of leaked documents from the FTC vs. Microsoft lawsuit. While we heard many comments, articles, and opinion pieces regarding this idea, the Financial Times went a step further and published an article detailing why Japan (as if Nintendo was a company owned by the government) should sell the Big N.
Here’s an excerpt from the article:
The first is that for Japan as a whole, the intensely high profile of a Nintendo sale would finally crystallise the sense of how undervalued many of its crown jewels really are — and how many smaller jewels are being sold to private equity and others at bargain prices. Microsoft would merely be one of many potential buyers: it is easy to imagine Disney or Apple stepping in, followed quickly by Google and Sony. Activision’s deal valuation would look small by comparison.
But the greater reason is that Japan may itself need the sort of moment that it foisted on the US in 1989 when Sony bought Columbia Pictures. That acquisition, in all its boldness and ferocity of ambition, was disruptive in a way that was ultimately as valuable to a then-chagrined Hollywood as it was to Japan’s sense of achievement.
In its article, not only does FT mention that Microsoft should acquire the company if the chance ever arrives, but that Apple or Disney would be a perfect match for the Japanese company. FT ignores the implications behind this impossible deal, how Disney is rumored to be planning to sell parts of its business, and how Apple is very unlikely ever to make a significant gaming acquisition like this.
I don’t even plan to list all the reasons why Nintendo wouldn’t make a deal to any company at all, but one thing the writer got it right: Nintendo owns many jewels, and if the company hadn’t fallen apart during the Wii U era, it’s not now when it’s selling consoles and games like water in a hot desert that the Japanese company will think about saying goodbye to its treasured property.
At the end of the day, it’s not even about the money but how these other companies don’t understand the concept behind the Big N. Nintendo doesn’t make powerful consoles, but the stories told by its numerous franchises can’t be made by Microsoft or Sony, with their big studios filled with money.
While reading his story, I could only think about that Bloomberg article where Kevin Bachus, a director for third-party relations on the Xbox project, said Steve Balmer made some Microsoft executives meet with Nintendo, asking if they would consider being acquired. Bachus, reminding this episode, said:
“They just laughed their asses off. Like, imagine an hour of somebody just laughing at you. That was kind of how that meeting went.”
This is how I feel whenever I read a piece about Nintendo possibly being sold to another company.