Xbox boss talks mergers and acquisitions, says telling studios not to sell is ‘short-sighted’

Xbox hasn’t been shy about acquiring studios in a bid to expand its first-party software lineup. The console maker has signed off notable deals for Bethesda parent company ZeniMax Media, Ninja Theory, Obsidian, Double Fine, and more in recent years, expanding its Xbox Game Studios roster to over 20 internal studios. 

Commenting on the Bethesda deal back in March, Xbox boss Phil Spencer said the mammoth $7.5 billion purchase was “about delivering great exclusive games.” Now, speaking to IGN on the latest episode of the Unlocked podcast, Spencer has elaborated on the role mergers and acquisitions play within the industry, and suggested those who believe studios shouldn’t sell up are being “short-sighted.”

“Starting any small business, frankly, is a very risky proposition, starting a video game studio even more so. And if a team actually takes the risk of starting a new company, starting a new studio, building that over years, building value in that. To say they shouldn’t sell, I think, is just short-sighted,” he said.

“It’s such a risk-filled journey for them to get to the point to create real value. I’m always going to congratulate when teams get to the point where they realize that value through acquisition or just massive independent success.”

The Xbox chief noted that many of those industry leaders who sell up will go on and start other companies and projects in the future, explaining “it’s kind of the natural turnover that happens with entrepreneurs and startup businesses.” He went on to add that Microsoft is continuously looking at where it can continue to bolster its first-party capabilities by acquiring teams and studios that would be a good fit. 

Spencer’s latest comments come after Bethesda global marketing and comms SVP Pete Hines apologized to fans after Starfield became an Xbox exclusive, with some PlayStation owners having voiced their frustration over the decision.

Sony, of course, has also made plenty of acquisitions itself over the years, and only this week purchased Returnal developer Housemarque for an undisclosed fee. To hear more from Spencer, be sure to check out the Unlocked podcast over on IGN.

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