Take-Two Interactive announced its plans to acquire Zynga in 2022, but Xbox chief Phil Spencer revealed that Microsoft had seriously considered buying the mobile game giant before then.
While being questioned at the Microsoft FTC beta trial today, Spencer spoke about the difficulties in the mobile gaming space, saying that Xbox “doesn’t have a strategy to win organically in mobile games.” Mobile gamers don’t want traditional Xbox console experiences, Spencer insisted, and console gamers don’t demand that customized experience on mobile.
Spencer revealed that Microsoft tried to acquire Zynga to solve this problem, but the developer was acquired by Take-Two for $12.7 billion. At the time, this was the largest game company acquisition in history. Spencer acknowledged that Microsoft had spent “a great deal of time” working on a potential Zynga acquisition, but it turns out that Microsoft wanted something bigger for the mobile startup.
“I have a lot of respect for the people at Zynga and what they’ve built. Ultimately, for our opportunity, we thought we needed something even bigger than what Zynga gave our very small starting space in the mobile gaming business,” said Spencer.
In November 2021, Microsoft’s interest turned to the acquisition of Activision Blizzard. Spencer noted that Activision is the largest publisher of mobile content outside of China thanks to existing King franchises like Candy Crush.
I spent time with Amy Hood, CFO [Microsoft], to look at the mobile opportunities available in the market, and Activision was the largest publisher of mobile content. And he’s a partner we know very well, given a long history of working together, so we felt very comfortable with the studios and the teams. But most important was their portfolio and mobile engagement.”
As reported by Microsoft I considered buying Zynga in 2010Back when Don Mattrick was still running the Xbox business.
For more, check out everything that happened in the Microsoft FTC trial, including how Starfield apparently passed Xbox entirely before Microsoft acquired 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 minor lines at IGN, Nintendo Wire, Switch Player Magazine, and Lifewire. You can find him on Twitter @LoganJPlant.
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