Zynga, Playrix and Niantic were all potential entries on Microsoft’s shopping list

News comes as part of the revelation Microsoft considered buying Sega

Zynga, Playrix and Niantic were all potential entries on Microsoft’s shopping list

As a result of the FTC lawsuit against the Activision Blizzard acquisition we’ve had unprecedented access to the inner workings of Microsoft, including the news that they previously considered buying some very familiar names in the world of mobile gaming.

As reported by The Verge, the revelations come as part of an email to Microsoft management in 2020 as part of which the possibility of purchasing Sega’s gaming division, Sega Sammy, was floated by Xbox boss Phil Spence. It’s not clear whether the talks that Spencer requested permission for ever took place, but the emphasis on improving Microsoft’s standing in Asia and his description of the potential benefits give insight into the trajectory of mobile intent that the company commenced and where the company’s priorities currently lie.

However, it’s a follow-up document from 2021 reviewing their M&A options where we see even more familiar names emerge from the world of mobile gaming. Scopely - which was recently acquired by Savvy Games Group - Niantic, Zynga and Thunderful all fell under Microsoft's microscope. In particular the emails note Playrix and Zynga’s “strong franchises and content breadth”, and both Niantic and Scopely for their “very strong tech infrastructure”.

We’ve got options

Of course, since 2021 a number of these companies have already undergone acquisitions themselves, as perhaps testament to Microsoft's skills in picking future winners.

Most notable are Zynga, who were acquired by TakeTwo, and Scopely who were acquired by Savvy Games Group. The former has proven to be a major benefit to TakeTwo, and questions may now be asked about the wisdom of Microsoft’s decision to pursue the massive Activision Blizzard King trifecta instead of acting upon their earlier thoughts, aquiring more focused mobile companies in order to improve their standing on the platform.

As of 2023 we're at a position where Microsoft's targets are no longer on the table and their biggest win - purchasing Activision Blizzard in video gaming's biggest deal ever, thereby aquiring both King's assets and the small matter of Call of Duty in one fell swoop - has turned into a costly, legally fraught gamble.

It remains to be seen as whether their earlier intentions or their big Aquiblizz power move will prove the wiser choice.

Staff Writer

Iwan is a Cardiff-based freelance writer, who joined the Pocket Gamer Biz site fresh-faced from University before moving to the editorial team in November of 2023.